3:20, 4:10, and 5:26 a.m.:
Wake up in a cold sweat convinced you're going to single handedly ruin your child’s first day of kindergarten. Obsess about everything, from the morning routine, the lunch you packed, getting to pick up on time. Worry about your child’s adjustment and well-being. Feel certain that he will spend the day lonely, bewildered and physically uncomfortable, like a ward in a 19th century orphanage.
Prepare your child a breakfast worthy of a gang of lumberjacks. How will he survive over three hours without a snack?
Panic because your kid is treating breakfast like a lady of leisure partaking of High Tea. He’ll be late and the whole day -- if not his entire school career -- will be ruined.
|Just wear the #&@%ing shoes, kid!|
Have one of those I-should-be-picking-my-battles-but-I-am-PISSED arguments with your son over his refusal to wear the brand new red Nikes he INSISTED you buy because he wants them to stay clean! Beg and plead. Argue that the first day is for nice new clothes and shoes! Reluctantly give up and let him wear the hand me down white sneakers that make him look like Jerry Seinfeld.
Assemble the $237 worth of school supplies you were asked to bring. Wonder if next year you’ll have to provide your child’s desk, chair and a new outfit for the teacher. On foot, struggle to manage your mobile Staples outlet while your child and his neighbors ride their bikes like they're chasing a suspect. Arrive at school looking like you just finished a death march.
Try to keep tabs on your child who is running around like a madman in a schoolyard filled with every child in the state. Try to have conversations with other parents, while your eyes dart about looking at everyone and trying to keep tabs on your kid.
Convince your child to stand in line with the 87 other children in his public school class and their parents. Wonder what each child will represent in his life. Who will be his close friends? The troublemakers? Start getting emotional.
Be relieved that parents will be able to come up to the classroom to get the children settled and drop off the school-supply haul. Take 739 photos. Try not to show a shred of anxiety, even though you’re almost convulsing with nerves. Kiss your kid goodbye as though you’ll see him again when he’s 15. Be proud that he is doing a great job being brave. Think about how you wanted him in school most of the summer and now have an urge to grab his hand and sprint out of the building.
Chat with some other parents about drop-off. Commiserate with another mother who is crying. Take in the vibe of another friend who has done this first day of kindergarten thing three times and is as emotional as someone clipping her toenails.
Finally break down crying. For the fact that you made it this far. That you no longer have a little kid. And most of all that, in good ways and in bad, your sphere of influence will diminish rapidly from now on.
9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Think about your kid throughout the day at work, especially at lunchtime, where the kids are given 20 minutes to eat. Imagine your son having four pretzels and a sip of milk before he is firmly told to pack up his lunch box and move it to recess.
Reunited at last! Be surprised that your son is very blasé about seeing you. Offer him a snack because everyone said that he’d be eating his hands after almost five hours since lunch. Be surprised that he doesn’t seem famished at all. Be eager for an outpouring of the day’s events. Receive a dazed hug, grunts and a blank stare.
3:45 – 8:00 p.m.:
Hear the good, bad and the ugly about school. (I made something – here it is! Someone pushed me and said bad things to me.) Hear about a child shoving, a non-responsive PE teacher and a boy using language perfect for a 50-Cent song but not a five year old. Decide that, yes, you will be that parent who emails her concerns on the first day. Assure your son he did nothing wrong. Welcome to kindergarten!
Fall into bed exhausted and with a pounding dehydration headache. Congratulate yourself on having made it through the day. Steel yourself for the tough times and the great moments to come. Fear for yourself when your kids go to college, knowing you’ll be under the table rocking and drooling on yourself.
Know you’ll get over that too.