Saturday, September 6, 2008

School days, school days

(Sorry, I've been meaning to post about the big First Day of School, but Kiddo and I both have been battling a pretty congestion-filled head cold - thanks, recirculated airplane air chock full o' germies! - and I haven't managed to finish this 'til today.)

So, the first two days of kindergarten are over. I must report that there were, in fact, tears on the first day, but I survived! Isn't that what you wanted to hear about? Oh, no? You wanted to know how Kiddo did, didn't you? She did just fine - I was the one who was crying!

Here she is, heading off for the school bus....

...and with barely a pause to say goodbye to Mom and Dad (photographing and videotaping, respectively), off she scampered onto the bus as soon as it pulled up to the corner.

She returned in as ebullient a mood as ever, bursting at the seams with tales of her first day. Friday was a repeat of Thursday, with great joy and excitement over school and sadness and disappointment that she doesn't get to go to school again until MONDAY. (Apparently, Kiddo thought kindergarten was a seven-day-a-week thing, not a mere five days like preschool was last year.) I wonder how long this "I LOVE school and can't wait to go back again!" mindset will last - sadly, I'm guessing not for the next thirteen years...

Also, on the first day? I followed the bus. I told you I was one of those mothers. I should point out that I wasn't the only parent following the bus - there were at least three cars behind me and one in front for the five minutes it takes to get from our street to school. Now, when I got to school, I didn't want Kiddo to see me. This was not the case for a lot of the other parents, who were forming a crowd to one side of the entrance that rivaled the crush of reporters covering the red carpet at the Oscars. One dad even had his video camera set up on a tripod on the sidewalk, all the better to capture his child getting off the bus and heading in to school. Seriously, it was nuts. I used the throng of camera-wielding, madly waving parents as a cover and watched Kiddo happily hopping off the bus and greeting one of her summer program friends, who is in the same homeroom, and then skip merrily off into the building.

I was pretty okay for this whole portion of events. I teared up as the bus first pulled away from our corner, but recovered quickly as I hopped in the van to chase the bus. I was dry-eyed on the sidewalk at school. I got home and walked into the house, and that's when it hit me. First of all, the house seemed somehow quieter and more empty than usual, which I know was entirely in my mind as I have been home alone without Kiddo many, many times before (every morning last year while she was in preschool, for example...) But it struck me as being different yesterday. Then, I spotted this:

Kiddo's teddy bear (the most beloved, since she was a baby, of all her stuffed animals), sitting forlorn and alone on the couch where Kiddo had abandoned him as she dashed off to school.

That's when I started to really cry. I cried for a good five minutes, truth be told.

But by Friday - Day 2, I was over it. Totally fine and dry-eyed as I waved Kiddo's bus off into the distance. I still felt at loose ends with so much time to myself, but I thought of it as a sort of vacation day. I mean, last year, I'd get home from dropping her off at 9:30ish and then would have to be back on the road to pick her up at 11:00, so it wasn't really all that much time to myself. Yeah, I'd work in some errands or hit the gym - I was efficient about it and had things timed to the second - but now? I'm back in the house at 8:12 and the whole day stretches out before me, since I don't need to be back at the corner until 3:05. It felt weird and not as liberating as I thought it would. I suppose I ought to kick my job search into high gear, so I have something to occupy my time more productively than browsing the stacks at the library (I came home Friday with five new books to read) or sitting and reading blog after blog after blog and playing game after game after game of Wordscraper over on Facebook. (Not quite as wondrous as Scrabulous, but I'm getting addicted to it nonetheless.)

It has been a long time coming, this first day of school - five years, in fact. But while I know in my head that it has been five years, in my heart it still seems like yesterday that Kiddo was still this small:

So, while I know that this BIG kid will come bounding off the school bus and into my arms every afternoon, I can't believe that this BIG kid was my tiny peanut not all that long ago... All this time, the First Day of Kindergarten has been this distant dot barely looming on the horizon, even as this last summer flew by to its end. Although I was preparing for it - buying the backpack, the lunch bag, the school supplies - and talking to Kiddo about it, when the day arrived, it still seemed to have snuck up on me, somehow. Now, I'm just relieved that it is behind me, and ready to hurl myself headlong into the next chapter of parenthood. I've already joined the PTA and if Kiddo wants to do Girl Scouts this year, I'll volunteer with the troop, too. As much as I looked forward to and enjoyed being a stay at home mom of a little kid, I'm looking forward to being the mom of a school-aged kid, too - the field trips, the sporting events, the dances and plays and recitals and later, the dances and proms and college visits. Okay, maybe I'm not looking forward to the college visit trips just yet.... One year at a time, right?

Now if someone could just tell me how to get my kindergartener to actually eat her food in the 25 minutes they allow for lunch in the cafetorium (auditeria? I know it is a combo word for the multi-purpose room, but haven't gotten down which combo it is), I'd be all set. Kiddo is skinny enough without skipping meals. (Seriously - I have been able to find exactly TWO pairs of jeans that fit her this fall - Children's Place "Skinny Straight" and Target's Circo brand "Slim Boot Cut" in size 5 are the only ones that don't make her look like she is an "After" picture in "Before" jeans in a weight-loss ad or go four or five inches past her feet. What's up with that?!) We had better success with Friday's lunch than Thursday, when 90% of the specially-requested bologna and provolone sandwich, grapes and Cheerios-Chex mix came home untouched (not to mention the mini-Milky Way bar - what kid skips the chocolate? I've got to work on her priorities, clearly). Friday, I'd say she ate more than 75% of her food, and she reported that she wanted to finish her mini-pizzas but the lunch lady told her she had to stop eating and go line up right away, so she couldn't. Maybe we should practice speed-eating at home? Kiddo is fond of dining at a rather leisurely pace... Any hints or tips would be welcomed!


Veggie Mom said...

Pop'rs might do the trick! They really give some zing to yogurt, and the taco flavor is HEAVEN on pizza! We're having another giveaway in October, so stay tuned!

leezee52 said...

Thanks so much for visiting me on my special day when I was the featured blogger at SITS…I could hardly sleep the night before I was so excited!

Lee :)

Cristin said...

Awwww..... love the teeny baby pics.

Sorry, I have no eating advice for you... my kid literally doesn't eat.

Iota said...

If you can find a school that makes it a priority to help kids eat properly at lunchtime, you're a better woman than the rest of us.