In my neck of the woods, today is The First Day Of School. (Perhaps I should have put that in all caps.) My Facebook feed is alight with pictures of smiling/nervous children, all of them super cute. None of them are from our household – our 3-year-old doesn’t start preschool until next week. To mark the occasion, though, I thought I’d write up a few my thoughts, provide a couple of links, and ask all you good people for a little advice on sending off my own little one next week.
1) I never gave too much thought to it before, but now that I’m looking at this first-day-of-school thing from a parent’s perspective, it’s dawning on me that it sometimes if not most-of-the-times has a greater impact on the parents than it does on the child. I know, all of you experienced parents out there are saying, “Umm… of course it does. How could you have missed something so obvious?” But I did. I’m having a little “aha” moment right now and wondering how I’ll be feeling in two year’s time when my big boy goes off to kindergarten.
2) Given all the angst and worrying that my friends seem to be going through right now, I think someone should initiate the tradition of the First-Day-Of-School-Brunchtime-Happy-Hour. Who’s in?
3) Kathryn Whitaker over at Team Whitaker had a post last week called To The First-Time School Mom. She offers some great words of advice/comfort, which can be boiled down to two phrases: “Be proud of your kid.” and “Chill.” And she also confesses that she messed up her own first child’s first day of school – by dropping him off at school 30 whole minutes late. And crying about it to her mother on the phone as she drove him in. So, perk up, friends! From what I’ve seen so far on Facebook, your kids all got there in time.
4) My friend Krista, who just sent her first child off to kindergarten, had a sweet post yesterday on the momentous occasion. The Soldiers Marched to War – check it out.
5) Given all the Facebook chatter about the beginning of the school year, our own preparations for preschool, and all my Catholic mommy blog reading, I’ve been thinking a lot about what kind of educational experiences I want for my boys. My husband and I have a lot of thinking to do in the next couple of years: public schools, Catholic schools, homeschooling? Which is going to be right for us? So much to think about…
6) For the past month, my own little guy has been insisting just about every single day that this is the day he gets to go to “freefool.” “No, not yet,” I’ve had to reply each time: “Not for another month,” or “Not for a few more weeks.” But now that I’m saying, “Next week!” I’m starting to get a little jittery. Is he ready? In some ways, he’s readier than most – he’s dying to go, he loves being surrounded by people, and he’s not afraid of new experiences. But in other ways, I’m not so sure. Does the kid have his ABC’s and numbers down pat? Nope, but I’m not too worried about that. He’ll figure it out.
What’s worrying me more is, how will he handle unpleasant interactions with his classmates? The child is pretty sensitive, and though he regularly engages in vigorous tussles with his brother over toys and games and me, he’s had very little experience of conflict with other children. The few times that other children on the playground have spurned his efforts to play with them, he’s burst into heartbreaking, pathetic tears. So yes, I’m a little nervous about how this is going to go.
7) On a more practical level, I’m looking for some ideas and words of wisdom from you more experienced parents on the things that we need to work on this week, in anticipation of next week. Here’s what we’re already working on:
- His name. We call both of our boys by their middle names, so the poor kids hardly (or don’t at all, in the case of the little guy) know what their real first names are. Lately we’ve been pounding away at it with our 3-year-old: “What is your whole name? No, your whole name?” I’m sure somebody’s going to call out his first name at some point and he’ll think to himself, “John? Who’s that guy?”
- Our names. It’s occurred to me that as he’ll be spending his first regular, substantial time away from us, he should know what his parents’ non-“Mommy” and “Daddy” names are. So we’ve been doing a lot of “What’s Mommy’s name? What’s Daddy’s name?”
- Our address. What do you think about this one? I’ve done a bit of it, but I’m not convinced it’s as important as the above.
- Morning routine. We’re late risers here. Apologies to all of you whose children get up at ungodly hours, but my boys regularly don’t rise until 8 or 9 or (ahem) 10:00. As school will start at 9:00, we have a major adjustment to make. This week we’re practicing getting up at 7:00 and being ready to leave by 8:30.
- Bathroom routine. The little guy is potty-trained at this point, but we’re working on the (shall I say) finishing touches. He’s got to know how to do everything by himself and he’s almost there. Almost. But not quite.
- Eating. My friends and family already know that my boys have a strange gagging thing that prevents them from eating the types of foods/sizes of bites that 12-month-old babies in other families have already mastered. I can’t tell you how worried I am that somebody will give my boy a carrot stick at snack time and he’ll proceed to choke on it. So I’m working on teaching him to chew, chew, chew; to take small bites; and to refuse foods that are too difficult for him to eat.
8) That’s it! That’s all I can think to work on. Oh, you more experienced parents, what else should we be working on right now?
Thanks for your input! Have a great first week of school, everyone! (And let me know, anybody who wants to take part in the First-Day-Of-School-Brunchtime-Happy-Hour, 2015. We’ll start planning now.)