CONFESSIONS OF A (ROOKIE) KINDERGARTEN MOM

I knew that sending my firstborn to kindergarten would be a big change.
 
But as the first day of school approached, I mostly worried about the transition for my son:
  • Would he have enough time to finish his lunch?
  • Would his teacher know when he needed to go potty?
  • Would he make friends?
  • Would he be able to sit and listen for longer stints?

What I thought about much less is how I would fare during this big adjustment. After years of having my sidekick every day, we would be going about much of our days separately. 

And, friends, I never knew how much of a learning experience becoming a kindergarten mom could be. Some days, I feel like I’m actually the one who’s walking into a new school lunchroom with a food tray wondering who will sit with me. 

We are about a month into this new stage of life, and my son seems to acclimating a lot better than his momma. While he is mastering sight words and recess politics and music class, I feel like I’ve been catapulted into a world I just don’t understand. 

In short – I’m a card-carrying rookie.

Where’s the parent’s guide to having a child in elementary school?

(I’m not joking. I would like it in writing.)
 
Here are a few of the things that I still haven’t mastered. (Someone please tell me I’ll get the hang of it before he graduates high school.)

The pickup and drop off lanes.

My palms are sweaty just thinking about the lines of cars before and after school. It’s true. I am intimidated by the pickup and drop off lines. There are obviously a litany of rules and regulations of which no one notified me. It was not in the kindergarten packet. (Trust me, I’ve looked.)
 
The first day, I showed up 20 minutes early and I was behind approximately 492 other cars. I didn’t realize this was like the line at Best Buy the night before Black Friday. I guess I’m supposed to camp out all day? Do I bring my meals and a sleeping bag? (Pssst: Veteran mom Laura just shared some ideas for passing the time in the carpool lane. I took notes.)
 
Additionally, no one told me that you get just about 2 grace seconds before you get PASSED in line by parents who just simply don’t have time for you to take note of what’s happening around you.
 
Did you sneeze? Too bad. Drop your sunglasses? Tough luck. When the car in front of you moves, you have to move. Immediately. Like a ninja.
 
Last week, I pulled behind a parked car (which I thought was another parent waiting). When I didn’t realize the line was moving in 4.5 seconds, I was passed. By two cars. There were also dirty looks involved.
 
Rookie move, man. The stress is real.

The school lunch.

When you send your firstborn to kindergarten, there is very little you can control. In my case, I determined that lunch would be the one thing I could control. 
 
I may not know how his entire day goes, but I could at least know that he ate carrots and grapes at lunch. 
 
But then, nope. He actually throws all the extra food away after lunch. I was informed by my son that he really only ate the cookie and the cheese stick because he didn’t have time for the rest. 

The papers.

Do I have to rent a storage unit for all the artwork and worksheets that come home everyday? 
 
I’m not joking. I’ve already exhausted my (rookie) expanding file for papers and artwork. And we’re only five weeks into the school year. 
 
I need some sort of a method for sorting and purging papers. Because right now, I’m worried that I will throw away something really important. I mean, if he grows up to be famous (the most likely scenario), someone may want these papers for a museum exhibit in Washington D.C. or the MLB Hall of Fame. Or the American Academy of Accountants. (I don’t know. Just covering my bases.)
 
I can’t take the pressure of being held responsible for throwing away a piece of artwork that perfectly reflects my son’s early penchant for future occupational mastery. (I’ll bet no one threw away Tiger Woods’ first golf drawing. Am I right?)

The school pictures.

 Y’all. I was sweating on school picture day. My kid wanted to pick out his outfit. And do his hair. And practice his smile. Which is really great. It really is.
 
But I was spending a small fortune on all those pictures – without even KNOWING if they would turn out. And I saw his practice smile. It looked less like a happy smile and more like he was getting stitches removed. 
 
But on the plus side – I guess I’ll have 142 wallets for posterity’s sake. (Can anyone just tell me why I can’t just order a picture CD without ordering prints? Anyone?)

The homework.

At the kindergarden parent meeting, we were told there was no homework. But now I know that was a dirty lie. Because papers are coming home every day that look suspiciously like homework. 
 
And while I don’t always have to send those papers back, I am beginning to realize his teacher will KNOW if we don’t practice those sight words every night because my son gets quizzed. And strangely enough, it feels like I’m the one being tested.  And I really want us both to pass!

The inability to let go – at least not completely.

It’s true. I’ve become a crazy person. Something about sending your child off into the big, bad world (of elementary school) will do that to you. I mean, I’ve read all the articles (on Facebook) about the dark side of school.
 
I’m terrified. 
 
When he was little, I never considered myself a helicopter parent. I tried to let him learn his lessons and choose his battles. I tried to give him space and let him grow. But now, I’m hovering like some sort of military aircraft. I literally can’t help myself.
 
That means that sometimes after drop off, I pull off to make sure my son is getting out to the playground the way he should. (I promise. I don’t holdup the drop off line. Because that could get a person killed.) And then I just watch him for a few minutes little while. 
 
Pro tip: If you want to stalk your kid on the playground, dress him in neon colors. 
 
I think after birthing and getting him this far, I have earned a little time to stalk him. I just have to get it out of my system before he goes away to college. (WHICH I CANNOT EVEN THINK ABOUT RIGHT NOW. Reading Sheri’s post comparing kindergarten to college makes my heart ache.)
 
I think hovering outside his dorm room could get awkward. So now it the time.
 
The truth is, being a first-time kindergarten mom comes with its own set of challenges. (And these are only the tip of the iceberg. Trust me. I’m a mess.) But every day, I’m learning and growing – and I know he is, too.
 
And I just keep reminding myself what a joy it is a parent to see your child thriving! 
 
He’s rocking this transition with a lot more style and grace than I am. He looks like a seasoned pro walking into the school each morning with barely a second glance.
 
But I’m still a rookie – hoping for one quick look back and wave from this growing dude.
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