Thursday, August 29, 2013

On the Fourth Day of Kindergarten...

It is the fourth day of kindergarten, and my mental dust has finally settled on the logistics of the whole drop-off, pick-up thing.  I've now turned my attention towards the aspect of Jack starting school that's a little more global.  It is so disconcerting not to see him all day long for five days a week.  I am enjoying my me time, don't get me wrong.  I love having several hours a couple days a week when both kids are in school and I can be on my own.  It's something I've missed lately.  But for seven hours a day, I don't know at all what Jack is doing.  Intellectually I know this is not bad.  This is the natural first step towards Jack growing up.  Kids get a little bit of independence at a time, until one day, they are truly ready to leave the nest.  This is a good thing.  This is the whole end goal of parenting - raising children to be independent responsible adults.  That's what I believe in my rational thinking mind, but my heart is crying out, "nooooo!  I don't want him to leave me!"
I am happy when I see how comfortable Jack already is in elementary school.  Today I walked him in through the parent pick-up door, instead of the front door so he could see where I'd pick him up in the car (for the first time) today.  He walked in that building ahead of me, confidently lead me on a detour past his classroom so he could show me some art they had in the hallway, and then strolled right into the cafeteria as if he owned the place.  That kid knows what he's doing, and he's come a long way from the toddler who hid behind my legs every time he encountered an unfamiliar, or sometimes even familiar, person.  I am happy, and I am relieved, because I truly did not know how well he would take this transition to kindergarten.  I am sad, though, because my first little boy is leaving me - not now, not next year, but this is the first step in the process.  One day, he will pack up his car and head away from our house for his own adventures in the world, and even though he's only five now, I can see that day coming way sooner than I'd like.
This is what I was thinking about a lot of the day yesterday.  Then Jack came home from school, and he was elated to find out I'm volunteering in his classroom once a week.  He also asked me to come eat lunch with him some day at school.  This morning, he sat in my lap and told me he was sad we couldn't have Jack and Momma day anymore because of school.  I reassured him we would find Jack and Momma time somewhere in our busy week, no question.  So, he's on his way to growing up, right on schedule, and some day he will be gone, but he's not quite done with Momma yet, and I am so very glad.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Kindergarten and Logistics

Today is the first day of kindergarten.  I dropped Jack off at school.  We were later than I wanted to be and got there at 7:40, instead of 7:35, like we were supposed to to meet the other kindergarteners in the cafeteria, so Jack and I walked to his classroom ourselves.  He was light and happy all the way there, until it was time for me to leave.  He hugged me tight and didn't seem to want to let go.  He did, though, and as I left, he had that serious, slightly worried look he gets.  I waved and smiled.  I left the building and walked back down the hill to my car.  I drove home,  I walked in the house, where Gage and Jason were waiting, and I burst into tears.
Jason went to work, and I got a hold of myself, but the rest of the morning, I was on edge.  My mind was going a mile a minute with questions.  What happens tomorrow when they won't let me walk him to the classroom?  Should I drop him off in the car or walk him into the cafeteria where we've been told the kids will wait until their teacher takes them to the classroom?  How am I going to pick him up?  Will Gage walk fast enough with me?  Do I take the stroller?  What if Jack gets nervous because he's not sure how it works?  Where do I park?  How's it going to work when we start car pooling next week?  Oh, yeah, I need to buy booster seat for that...My mind is going in all different directions.
Then I realized what was upsetting me.  Yes, I was worried about Jack, but really I know he'll be okay.  I'm pretty sure he'll enjoy kindergarten after he gets used to it and knows the routine.  Yes, I feel a sadness at my first baby going off to big bad, stay-all-day everyday public school.  Yes, I'm going to miss him.  But what really had me all fit to be tied was not knowing the logistics.  Mmm, I wonder where Jack gets his attachment to routine?  We had a great little schedule with preschool three days a week.  We all knew how that worked, but this is something brand new, and despite having taught elementary school in this very district, I feel like I don't have a clue how best to do things like drop off and pick up, and that seriously stresses me out.
Yes, I went to kinder camp with Jack, and yes I listened, but during that time, I got a call from the preschool saying Gage was acting weird, and since he'd fallen and hit his head pretty badly that day before school, I was concerned.  So I spend a good deal of kindergarten orientation either out in the hall on the phone or sitting in the meeting distracted by my worries about Gage.  I'm sure this contributes to my feeling of being not at all prepared.
I know this feeling will pass.  We will get used to elementary school just like we got used to preschool, but for some reason knowing this does not get me to relax right now.  I am a planner, and it puts me out of sorts when I feel like I can't totally plan ahead for something.  We really just need to go to school for a couple of weeks, try a couple of different transportation/parking options and figure out what's best, but I don't like that. I want to know what's best RIGHT NOW!
Anyway, this rant really doesn't have a point.  I just needed to vent my frustration, and now I feel better...well a little better.  Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Advice Overload

I just read a parenting article that made me feel like a failure as a mom.  I know I'm not a failure, but many times, when I read articles about how I should not rush my kids, stop and smell the roses, nurture their artistic side, take them on amazing vacations, teach them math facts, be sensitive to all their many emotions, listen, don't yell, be authoritative, and on and on, I feel overwhelmed.  It's not that I don't think most of theses things are pieces of good parenting.  It's that I am human.  I am a real woman with a personality, and it is flawed.  I don't like yelling at my kids.  I don't do it often, but every now and then, the mommy bomb goes off because I just cannot take it anymore.  The thing about reading parenting articles is, it makes me uber-analytical about my own parenting.  I start worrying that I've permanently scarred my kids because I am an imperfect parent.  I know this is not the intent of the articles.  They are meant to be helpful, and I wish I could just take them as possibly useful little nuggets of information without obsessing over whether or not I measure up to them for days on end.
I did come up with a thought recently, though, while on vacation without the kids - just about the only time I am capable of original thought.  I am not one hundred percent responsible for the adults my kids will become.  Maybe some of you are thinking, "well, duh," but it was nothing short of epiphany for me.  There are their own genetics, which come from Jason and me, but are hardly within our control.  There will be school, friends, teachers, jobs, random circumstance.  It's not all on us as parents.  When I think about it, the one thing I could do to improve my parenting would be to freaking relax a bit.  When Jack was born, I was a ball of stress.  I was so afraid something would go wrong or I would somehow mess him up.  With Gage I was better, but there's still that whisper saying, "You've been doing it wrong," almost every time I read an article with parenting advice in it.  I don't know why I'm convinced article writers know how I should be raising my children necessarily.  I mean, they're my kids, right?  I know them, and I even have an actual degree in child development and family relations, so I should basically know what I'm doing, even if I'm not perfect.  Sometimes, I actually think if I knew less about child rearing, I'd be happier.  Ignorance is bliss, right?  So since I can't manage to take parenting advice from the experts lightly, I think I'll stop reading the articles.  It's just like when I was fourteen and stopped reading Seventeen magazine, because leafing through it and seeing all the stick-skinny models made me feel bad about myself.  Don't get me wrong; all the information available to parents these days can be great.  It can give you ideas about how to solve problems with your kids, and it can make you realize you're not the only one experiencing something.  I just wish there were a few more articles out there telling us parents, it's okay if you're not perfect.  Your kids are not going to grow up to be serial killers because you yelled at them one time for dumping a whole box of Cheerios on the floor.  They may be serial killers, but it won't be because you yelled at them.