One day, after the hustle and chaos of a class holiday party our daughter walked out the front door of the school with a parent of one of her friends. She made it maybe fifteen feet before school staff had her in the office and me on the phone. They are *that* good.
One day my kid had an argument with a friend and they survived it (and so did their moms).
One day my daughter mistakingly got on the bus after a change in our normal routine and we all panicked just the right amount until she was home safe.
One day my husband lovingly brought a pair of pajamas to my nephew at the school because my sister in law had forgotten to remind her son it was PJ day. When he got to the office feeling like Uncle of the Year, the hero, the White Knight, he offered to take the PJs to his classroom and help him change. The staff insisted “Sir, really, we will make sure he gets them. Just leave the pajamas here.” Important detail: he was wearing a hoodie and backward hat with just enough facial hair to look like a creep. It was the beginning of the school year, so the office staff didn’t know my husband yet. We still crack up about it and we are thankful for the staff’s heightened CREEP ALERT now even though that day he walked out like a puppy with his tail between his legs.
One day a friend told me she was disappointed she was asked not to go outside for recess with the kids when she was at the school volunteering. You’ll soon learn that the playground is busy, like really really busy, and I appreciate that only background checked adults are out there with our kids.
One day my kid finally went “big potty” at school and the world kept turning. I know you people are worried about it.
Tip 1-Stuff will go wrong and you will get through it.
The sooner you as a parent realize the school staff has anticipated every possible danger and put things in place to protect your kid, the better. They have planned for intruders, ill willed family members, and mishaps with transportation so that your kid can be safe and feel safe. Kids that don’t feel safe, can’t learn.Teachers that don’t feel safe, can’t teach. Assume the best of intentions with their policies and procedures and be thankful you aren’t responsible for keeping that many people safe.
Tip 2- If you or your child need help ask for it!
I called our School’s Psychologist with an SOS tone in my voice to ask why in the heck my kid was having a melt down on the way home from school each day! HELP ME! I’ll save her some calls by relaying some tips she gave me.
When you see your child after school plan for your child’s synopsis of their day to be 2 minutes long. If they talk longer great. I know you’re dying to know every detail of their day. Don’t fish too hard though. A simple “I’m so very happy to see you!” is most effective. Badgering them with questions right off the bat is asking for a meltdown. They have been -on- all day, for most of them they are still building up the stamina needed for full day school, so they are ready to be hugged and loved and eat all the things. In our experience, we found that we ended up hearing more about the school day at dinner or at bedtime but if we pushed for it at pick up then we usually just heard about the one or two hard moments in the day followed by tears. If you MUST know then asking specific questions like “I know you had P.E. today, what did you play?”. When a developing Kindergarten brain gets asked “Did you have a good day?” in order for your child to answer it they have to file back through the day’s events to decide. They usually end up reliving the grouchy moments on their way back through hence triggering their meltdown.
Another meltdown trigger was the dang seatbelt. Don’t hesitate to pull out of the line and park for a second for your kid to spaz out because “I can’t buckle” even though they’ve done it 9,000 times. “Here DRINK THIS. Here EAT THIS.” …. “now can you try to buckle?”. Another Mom and I frequently met in the “seat belt spaz” area of the parking lot for an exchange of a smile or an eye roll to get us through. Our kids are going to first grade and are no longer seat belt spaz’s. HOORAY!
Psychologists call Kindergarten the “blow up year”. Your kid is going to try their hat at many different behaviors before they find their school kid persona. Hang on tight.
Tip 3-Just know, gossip is not advocating for your kid.
I have noticed that parents feel this brand new right to gossip when starting the school kid journey, using the excuse that we’re looking out for our kids. I fell in that trap a time or two. Most of your child’s day is going to be a mystery to you and that is really hard. I still struggle with this so much. Make sure you are creating your own opinions of your kid’s teachers and staff and your own opinions of the other kids and their parents. Opinions based on your own experiences. If your kid needs advocating for because their needs are not being met then, by all means, ADVOCATE. Call their school, call their teacher, take a close friend to lunch and eat fried things and talk it out.
Raising kids in this district is a choice and a privilege. As parents with a shared interest, your little humans, decide right now to take care of each other. None of you know what you’re doing and it just has to be okay.
Look at me, all smug sending my kid to First Grade like I have all my stuff together. Ha! If you only knew…
Plan for drop off tomorrow: waterproof mascara and sunglasses for the ugly cry AND sports bra and tennis shoes for the FREEDOM sprint to my car. It will still be hard, but now I know it will be okay.
Parents of the Class of 2029, We did it once already surely we can do this again. Right? Don’t leave me.