I knew school was on the horizon; I had been researching schools in our area and making plans with my boss a full year in advance. I knew it was coming, and I was actively helping it to arrive. I was prepared. I really was.
:::rocks in corner repeating “but I was prepared… I really was… I was prepared”:::
Two months before school, no paperwork in the mail. One month before school, no paperwork in the mail. Two weeks bfore school, still no muthafugging paperwork in the mail so i freaked out and called central office.
One address correction later (they were off by ONE digit) and a stop by the actual school’s now open office, because it was now ONE WEEK before school, and all I got were two pieces of paper with very little information.
“I’ve been planning for A YEAR, and I’m just supposed to hand my baby over to these ill-prepared freaks???”
Yep, my mind went there. Having worked in several schools in the past I was absolutely appalled. But mostly, really, I was scared. What if I missed something? What if I didn’t know what to do or where to go? I was suddenly feeling not-so-prepared, and it was all their fault.
In the mean time, excitement for school waxed and waned in the head and heart of my little one. It was a rough summer with many changes that were out of my control, and starting scool was one more thing on his little plate. He decided it had to go.
School orientation night was a disaster – he locked himself in my car. Once in the classroom, everyone fawned over him as his natural outgoing personality hid behind defiance and a bit of sadness.
“Oh, is he shy?” they cooed.
“No, he’s the world’s first K4 drop out.”
My plans had been ruined. But then we worked through it and managed to leave on a happy note…
Over the next few days, my little guy’s anxiety and sadness about school rose and fell like tidal waves. One minute he was excited, the next he was willing to sacrifice his 5th birthday in order to not go to school. I just wanted off this boat we somehow got on. We started on a cruise ship, and somehow we ended up in a ratty life boat with both of us fighting for the only paddle.
The first day of school wasn’t waiting for either boat, though, and we had to just get in there and get it done. My son’s grandparents and auntie showed up on the playground with a brand new build-a-bear, cameras and photo ops galore, and a delicious fruit roll-up for him to devour while waiting for the bell. The pictures are so deceiving!! It looks like everything is going so well!! Ha!
The bell finally rang and, strangely, all the parents lined up with their kids. What. The. Fugg? There I was trying to leave my little guy in line, but all he could see were the backs of the adults in front of him. The backs of the adults who had received that same one of two pieces of paper that I had received that specifically stated you were not supposed to follow your child into school.
This was not in the plan.
So there my child stood… until he no longer was. Suddenly, as his class was walking into the building, he was attached to my leg, crying and pleading “I WANT TO GO HOME WITH YOU!!!!!!!!”
My heart just broke! This wasn’t how it was supposed to be!!! I didn’t sign up for the terror and trauma plan!! I WAS PREPARED!!!!!!!!!
So, I did what any other loving, devoted, and concerned parent would do – I pushed him through the school doors and ran like hell.
All day long I worried he would totally hate my guts, but in the back of my mind I knew that I had dutifully peeked into the hallway about 15 seconds after I shoved him in and there were absolutely NO screaming, crying, and spasming children on the floor. None. He had made it!
The child I picked up that afternoon was initially very happy to see me and proud of his day, but he quickly, before we got out of the school doors, turned into a blubbering puddle.
“THEY BROKE MY BABY!!” I screamed inside… but… upon further investigation… I discovered he was just thirsty, hungry, and very tired.
Each following day the tidal waves got smaller and smaller, and each day I got smarter and smarter. I learned to bring a drink and a snack to pick-up, and that seemed to solve the after school puddle. We did the whole Kissing Hand thing before he got in line. We were on a roll, slowly figuring things out! Hooray! I could see the cruise ship returning in the now not-so-foggy distance.
And then this morning, the Monday of the second week of school, someone crept into my bed 15 minutes before we were to wake up and asked “Am I going to school today?”
I panicked as I slowly answered “Yes…”
“Hooray! I am so excited!!”
Wait, what?? OMG, yes! Score! Score! Wooooooo hooooo we are back baby!!!!!!!!!!!
Everything went so well. We got to the playground and he spent some time playing but then wanted to get in line well before the bell rang. Once the bell rang, he stood up so straight, so proud. My heart swelled and I thought, “This is it!” And then he caught my eye and mouthed four little words with a matching hand gesture:
“You. Can. Leave. Now.”
Seriously?? I just… but… WHAT??!!!!!!!
Yep. He kicked me out. He was so ready and things were going so well that he just didn’t need me anymore.
“He doesn’t need me anymore!!”
Now I know that this isn’t entirely true, and I also specifically remember my mother lamenting about my first day of school and how I just ran off and threw her the dueces, but still. I thought it would be different. I thought… wait… what the hell did I think?
Cruise ship has sunk. Life boat is in the garage. I think we are now on a pontoon, and I think I’m ok with that. I mean I knew he would be in someone else’s care for 7 hours a day, and I was ok with that, and I wanted him to be ok with that… but maybe I wasn’t ready for him to be SO ok with that, nor for me to be so uncertain or unprepared regardless of how much I tried to prepare.
I had always known that some things just aren’t in our control, but I always thought kid stuff was the exception. Everything around him, on him, in him, and about him has been in my control for over 4 years and now I am handing him off to other people and experiences.
So I’m learning to let go of way more than I had prepared to let go of. In return I’m seeing him use all the tools I have knowingly and unknowingly given him over the years, and I can honestly say it feels great to know he really is prepared for anything, even if I feel like I’m not.
Maybe the best plan is to just prepare for what we can and deal with what needs to be dealt with as it comes? Ha! For me, that is an ok motto. For my child? Not so much.
I will work on it, though. I really will.
At least no one can ever change the fact that he is mine…