My posts have been few and far between since summer. And so it goes when you go back to Kindergarten. Forget how my child is handling the rigors of a new classroom, classmates, and teacher. This business has been tough on this mom!
As the days wind down and winter break approaches, I’m getting perspective on this whirlwind. The school year that started with a Perfect Storm – the start of kindergarten, a husband in surgery, and an international visitor – has quieted down to smooth sailing, more or less. My daughter and I have established routines for the morning to get her to class on time. I am more prepared to deal with her post-school grumpiness. We pick out clothes after dinner for the next school day, and sleep in on the weekends.
I’m still feeling my way around in the dark, but I have a few friends with flashlights now. I joined the PTA and forced my introverted self to attend meetings. I tried to remember other parents’ names. I did the occasional favor for the main secretary to keep in her good graces. When I need a question answered, I now know who to go to.
I was leery of being that parent who inundated the teacher with a plethora of questions about every little detail of my child’s experience in school, but I think I started out that way. I had to. My daughter was the only child attending school half-days in a full day program. I wanted guidance from her teacher on what I should be covering at home. By time the mid-quarter round-up rolled around I realized that my daughter simply was getting much less exposure to the concepts covered in class – from writing practice to free art time. Her work folder was empty, and my parent guilt grew fierce and ugly. All of the teacher’s general class comments just didn’t seem to apply to my daughter because she was having a different experience from everyone else in her class.
My daughter was feeling this separation and started to retreat. She had a hard time doing everyday things like putting on her socks. She was moody. I Googled “five year old attitude” and every possible variation to get advice. It took my husband and I sitting down repeatedly and talking through our observations of her days to get to the heart of it. Think of how it must feel when you are asked to try something completely new with little preparation and no support from the two people who have held your hand for the past five years, knowing the stakes are high. And just as her emotions hit an apex, the school district announced that full day Kindergarten at our school would now be completely subsidized by the state. While my husband and I still had reservations, I knew that we had to try it.
When I asked my daughter if she would like to attend full day, she had no hesitation. The following day she adopted the new schedule. The transition was extremely positive for the most part. She was getting fearful of certain details she could not control in her day and it was over-amping her, and I couldn’t summon the patience she needed to get past these things. Then I saw my husband in action as we dropped her off at her classroom one day; he talked to her slowly and moved her towards our destination using baby steps. I need this exact thing to make genuine progress, so why wouldn’t she?
Her teacher has warned us that the post-holiday return to school can be stressful. I am willing to work with that. For now, I am looking forward to sleeping in and snuggling this little girl who has shown such courage at trying something new.