Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A few thoughts on this kindergarten thing...

Like many other parents, I am preparing to send my first child off to kindergarten in a matter of days. I have seen so many other mommies (mostly) posting on Facebook and other news related articles popping up regarding this subject. There are tons of tidbits on advice on how to prepare your child and how to keep from losing all your marbles and looking like a big cry baby on the first day. 

I am very bipolar on this major life event. One part of me is jumping for joy. I know I'll get to spend some one on one quality time with my almost 3 year old, who still naps. And you know what that means?! Mommy time! For things like working out, working on organizing my digital photos, writing my blog, running my home businesses, and maybe showering. I also know that my kindergartener is more than prepared for this big year. She can read, write, do some basic math, shares most of the time..you know...kindergarten stuff. She can't tie shoes yet, but like all the articles I've read, I'm taking their advice. Ever hear of Velcro?
 On the other end of the spectrum...well, it isn't as pretty. It is actually kind of messy, drippy with tears, a little angry, disappointed even. I'm getting real here. 
The common feeling of 'boohoo, my baby is going to school' is there, sure. But I am also dreading getting her to bed at a decent hour every night, and getting two, very picky dressers ready to go out the door for our mere 10 minute walk to school, in probably what will be rain about 80 % of the time. We live in the Nethrrlands, you know? The younger one is especially picky. This kid changes her clothes at least 4 times a day! Now, after all my research, I have anticipated this dilemma and have a plan, for the older one at least. I may need to implement this for the younger one if necessary.
The plan: a hanging organizer with 6 slots. One for each day of the week and one extra. On Sunday evening, we will, together, pick out 5 outfits and place one in each slot. Now, to empower and still give the power of choice, I am going to tell her that she can choose any outfit from any one of the slots for the days outfit for school. Now if I could get away with taking the youngest one in footie pajamas every day, that would be awesome, but chances are she is going to want to wear something just like her sister, even if she isn't getting out of the little bike pod I have so cleverly purchased to cart them to and from school. Maybe I can make up time getting to school after wardrobe meltdowns, by pedaling really fast! I also know Mia, is going to miss her big sister and I am going to miss how they keep eachother occupied and entertained for hours on end. I'm not really going to miss tearing them apart when they've had enough of eachother. 
     I am also a bit angry about this whole school thing. I'm angry because, this kindergarten thing is going to take my baby and change her. She is going to grow up so quickly and learn at the speed of light, and that ain't right people! 
I'm disappointed. For quite sometime, I thought and prayed long and hard about homeschooling. I figured I couldn't screw kindergarten up for a kid who is already reading chapter books and spelling things out to me so her little sister doesn't understand. 
"Momma, can I have some B-u-b-b-l (pause) -e?" I nod
" I can?!" 
" No, I was just saying yes to the "e" not to the 'b-u-b-b-l-e g-u-m." 

I wanted to be able to travel and take advantage of our living situation here in Northern Europe, and not have to worry about pulling her out of school. I remember it being pretty strict when I was in school and my parents wanted to take us to Disney, or the Bahamas. I'll never forget the solemn, disapproving head hang my geometry teacher gave me for going on a vacation the week before finals. She was just jealous.
Now I know it is slightly different in elementary school, but I still hear horror stories about taking your kids out of school and it will be especially different at a private school in which you PAY to go to their school. I also wanted to just be able to be home with her another year or two. I'm pretty sure I'd screw up from 3rd grade on. My art skills haven't progressed since then, and I'm not sure much else has either. 
     With the small amount of research that we did do to look into making this happen this year, there were more closed doors  than open windows. And everything seemed to be saying it wasn't going to happen. So, needless to say I'm a little down about that, but excited for her as she is going to get access to lots of things I couldn't provide for her and if I did, it would take a lot of work and energy, and I do mean a lot, to giver her the same opportunities she is going to have at this great school. Even the opportunity to build up her immune system. I don't look forward to the runny noses, fevers, and doctor visits that I know come along with being around other germy little people all day. There is nothing worse than a sick child.

Speaking of germs, we had an appointment with the school counselor and the school nurse so we could all meet them and feel comfortable should the time come we needed assistance from either one of them. We took our seats in the elementary sized chairs at the kidney shaped table in the counselor's office, equipped with a laptop and a box of tissues. Germs! Those must be for the sneezy ones, I thought. Where is my hand sanitizer?
A weird feeling washed over me as we walked in. I've been to counselors before, mostly when my parents divorced, so I put on my best counsel-ee hat and let her ask the questions and let Mallory answer. 
Reading from our child inquiry form we had filled out, the counselor says in a sweet, motherly, smiley, voice, with her eyebrows raised really high,
"So Mallory, I hear you like to dance and sing and that you love to read! Is that right?" 

I stared at my baby girl, tears filling my eyes as she began to have a very adult conversation about singing and dancing to Frozen and her love of reading.
I did the whole eye widening thing, trying to give my tears more room to go, trying to buy some time before they eventually fell from my eyes to my cheeks. Then it occurred to me........DANG IT! Now I know why those tissues are there, and I WILL NOT grab one. Maybe I'm not the only one who has come in here a blubbering mess. The counselor asks me a question. What exactly, I don't remember. But I look up. Eyes all watery, can't see a thing and stumble through an answer. I also happened to look at Josh, and he too looked a little glassy eyed. 

I confirmed with Josh that he would be coming with me to take Mallory to school on her first day. He assured me that of course, he would be there. I know Mallory will appreciate him being there, but I'll certainly need him to hug me after she leaves. I'll also need dark sunglasses, and waterproof mascara. Maybe I should go see the counselor :)

In these weeks leading up to school, I've been more aware of the conversations and behavior going on around the house. Things that may seem funny and innocent at home, might be taken...ummmmmm, the wrong way. Here are a few examples. 

1. We teach proper body part names mostly. One Mallory loudly proclaims is Nipple. We talk about how I nursed both her and her sister and how that works, and we've talked about cow udders being nipples for baby cows and that is where milk comes from. She gladly points hers AND mine out, as casually as she would say," momma you have Ears! Ears, ears ears, ear, ear, ears!" in a sing song voice. Now replace ears with Nipples. Now you know why I am a bit nervous. Ha!

I can hear the conversations in kindergarten now....
Mallory might say or do....... And here is why.
1." Well, my mommy and daddy are naked ALL the time"
She might say this because, she sees us naked for one, and two, the one day we were both naked in the hallway outside of her room. "Why are you both naked?" She questioned with a grimace. 
"Uhhhh....well mommy was about to get in the shower and daddy hadn't got dressed yet, and the hot water wasn't working so daddy came up to show me where to go to push the button for the hot water to work, and we are just....here.....naked. That is why." True story. 
2. "Poop scoop!" "Crapuela!" "Crapballs"  "crapbuckets"
These things may or may not come out of her mouth. I don't usually say "bad words" and most certainly never in front of my children, but this is what I DO say instead. Im not sure what would be worse, MY curse words or the real four letter words.
3. Mallory will be hanging upside down off her chair with her feet on the table in the cafeteria at school. Every kid does this at the dinner table right? We don't condone it, and we most certainly tell her to sit up and keep her buns in her chair, but despite our best efforts, she ends up hanging upside down which then for some reason the force she exerts to sit back up straight in her chair, pushes out a toot or a string of toots, to which she then starts giggling uncontrollably, because the sound they make reverberating off the wooden chair, well you just can't help but laugh at those. And again, although we do not condone farting at the dinner table, it happens. I hide my face behind my hand and try not to laugh as well, but encourage her to excuse herself if she must pass wind and to at least say 'excuse me.'  We had the conversation, that although that might be funny at home, other kids may find that gross, so we should be respectful and try to keep our tooting to bathroom areas, or cough loudly to cover up the noise. Haha. Just kidding. 

Are any embarrassing things coming to mind that your child may blurt or do at school, I'd love to hear them! 
Best of luck to all of you moms and dads out there doing the back to school thing. Hang on it is going to be a wild ride!

Until next time, 
Ps. I promise the next blog will have pictures, and maybe even cute back to school pictures from a very creative photo shoot I have up my sleeve! Thanks for reading.

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