First day of First Grade

Oh, bloggity blogosphere. Hold me, for I am wrecked.

I wanted everything to go right today. Yesterday Peanut was terrible to his brother, and confessed when I asked why he seemed to bent on emotional destruction that “I’m worried about school tomorrow.”

Of course you are, I said. New people, new classroom, new things to learn. But you know, I reminded him, some of the people will be familiar. We checked the class list together right before dinner and he very much likes three of his returning classmates. We’ve seen the classroom before. And they won’t expect you to be in high school yet. They know what you learned in kindergarten, and they’ll start there for first grade.

It’ll all be okay. Uncomfortable in the beginning, but just fine once you get rolling. Hang in there. Newness fades fast.

And then I set out to make the day a success.I packed his favorite lunch. I gave him his backpack early enough that he could accessorize it with all his hoarder packrat-y bits of fluff and string and old raffle tickets. (Seriously, the kid’s middle name should have been Templeton.) I calculated and recalculated how long it would take us all to get ready, get the bikes out, and ride to school. I checked air pressure and helmet status and bike locks.

I woke early (I swear to Aphrodite, Butterbean, if you keep waking up so early and shrieking at me to get you vitamins, I’m selling you to the gypsies before you have a chance to unleash the Threes on me) and brewed some chamomile for the adorable little cautious and easily unsettled first-grader. I made a lovely breakfast. I kept Butter out of his face.

We made it ten minutes early and met the LOVELY teacher who fawned all over Peanut. Then I walked off with Butter for our first solo date in over a month.

And a few blocks later I sobbed. Walking down the street, toddler in my arms, I was more than a little surprised that I bawled to the tune of “I left my precious baby with someone else. Someone new who didn’t even know yet which of his resistances were based in fear, which stemmed from shyness, and which from assholishness.” Tears streamed down my face as I ordered coffee and a cheese roll for my littlest Little.

I got Butter to nap a bit late, but figured I’d wake him early to get his brother. First graders are important, and we must be on time. Don’t forget: first grade gets out later than kindergarten. Don’t forget.

The phone rang half an hour before I was to wake the little guy. (Why do phones only ring REALLY loudly when a small person is napping?)

“Did you know that today was an early release?”

My heart just fell to the floor, bounced twice, turned to crystal, and shattered down the stairs.

“Today is WHAT?!”

Every child in the first grade was taken into the safe, warm, loving arms of a caregiver, except mine.

The new teacher, who knows nothing of my commitment to family, learning, and being ten minutes early to everything, reassured me that Peanut was fine. In the office with our delightful secretary.

I grabbed the sleeping toddler, my keys, and the backpack I needed for our bike ride home. I walked as fast as a human has EVER walked the almost-mile back to my little boy.

Twenty-five minutes late the first day of school. His first experience of being a really big kid. And I screwed it up. Beyond screwed it up.

While I stew in that, I’ll add this tidbit for your information so you can help me pick out the right hair shirt for the next twenty years of self flagellation: Closing up his lunch this morning I wanted to add something extra, in case he was first-day-of-school hungry. Something easy, somewhat healthy, and adored…

A lovely, locally grown, organic apple.

For the kid with *three* loose teeth.

Effing parent of the century, don’t you think?

27 thoughts on “First day of First Grade

  1. Well, what the friggin hell? Early dismissal on the first day of school? That’s a way to really confuse everyone, adult and child alike! That’s just stupid and pisses me off. Things like this feel so shitty, I know. But, I’m certain it was all much more magnified in your head and that today will gloss it over just a bit, and the next and the next, until those teeth come out and you all can celebrate with a quarter (or a twenty? what’s the going rate these days?) under his pillow.

    And FYI, these mishaps seem to only happen to those that are hyper conscientiousness parents, meticulous about planning ahead and assuring all goes perfectly for such monumental occasions. I don’t know why. They just do. So congratulate yourself for being in this extra special awesome parenting category. (no sarcastic tone should be inferred)

    • thankfully, we are total killjoys about the whole tooth fairy thing. He wants to keep all his teeth because their part of the body and he refuses to give them up, and we refuse to pretend there are things that fly into his bedroom at midnight, because he’s prone to nightmares. So he gets to pick out a small toy for each tooth, the latter of which he keeps in a little pirate bottle cork to buy his bedside.

    • Thank you, Stacie. I actually understand why they start mid weekend have a short day the first day, and it’s all about building up tolerance after a long summer with no school. bill, they could have foreseen that would totally ruin my relationship with my child for ever. .

  2. truly loved this post. My only babe is just turning one next month but I’m already having anxiety about her school days. And you, trying so hard to get it so right, pour out your human-ness in this most fitting blog post. loved it! (also, so true about the damned phone ringing during sleepytime. I may or may not be a complete asshole to the telemarketers on the other end of the line).

    • Thanks, Sheri.

      Infancy has its glories and frustrations and sadness. So does toddlerhood. And moving into full childhood is just so fraught with landmines of beauty and of sorrow.
      I always tell telemarketers, “This isn’t your fault, but please, please, please never call here again. And consider a new career.”

  3. Oh dear. How was he when you got there?

    I’m the third child. I don’t know how many times me mother forgot about me at soccer practice/Girl Scouts/ whatever (more than once), but it obviously didn’t result in any lasting emotional damage.

  4. Oh heavens I’m crying over here. And not just because you said apples are only somewhat healthy. Because we try so hard and they try do hard and we fail them and they fail us. It’s beautiful and devastating all at once. You will all bounce back, and be the better, but those moments when I know I dropped the ball slay me.

    • Amen. SO hard. So beautiful, so fail-y.

      (Yeah, apples are pretty much just fiber and sugar. Other fruit are much more useful nutritionally, but apples have that dont’t-cut-yet-survive-lunch-bag-travel duality that I dig.

  5. I will hold you.

    I am holding you.

    Because I remember JUST the way I felt when one of the parents who were there ON TIME for their child’s early release let my 7-year-old son call me on their phone. Because they were there with their child, while they watched my lonely child stand outside of the school alone.

    “Mama? You’re really late. Are you coming?”

    So many things to do first. Poop in my pants, vomit, cry, hit myself in the head? I decided to go with jump in the car and break the law getting there, two screaming babies and one bawling mother at the helm.


    • Ah. I have to pause to cry for a minute.

      Because if The Empress did it, too, I might be okay.

      I considered vomiting, too. And screaming. But neither would have helped.

      And if I’m searching for silver linings, Peanut has bonded to his new teacher since the event. He wrote her a love note and gave it to her the morning of Day Two.

      And she wrote him back and put it in his backpack the afternoon for Day Two.


  6. OMG. Early release is the devil. At least your kid was safe with the secretary–mine had to stay on the bus until it wended its way back down to our neighborhood while I hyperventilated after missing the bus because one never knows how long it will take until they get to the bus stop on an early release day, as opposed to a regular day, where the timing is downright precise compared to early release. Was that sentence long enough?

  7. Guilty of same! I grabbed the sleeping baby out of her crib (in diaper only) and ran to school to pick up my kindergartener. Kindie-kid is now going into 4th grade, and baby into 2nd grade… neither was a bit scarred. It is the millions of caring things you do every single day, layer upon layer of love, that they will remember. I hope :)
    P.S. I have also sent dumb food choices incompatible with loose teeth. Again, no one starved to death.

    • Oh, thank you. Not for the heart attack you had when your kindergardener was alone, but for telling me they’re okay, you’re okay, and we might be okay. Seems like loose teeth (whichare a problem for, like, three years?) are why applesauce is such a big seller.

  8. It’s heartbreaking to read in part because I can imagine doing the same. But hey – my mom was ALWAYS late to pick me up and I turned out ok. Maybe just prepare yourself that he may blog about this incident someday. ;) I saw your comment above about the note from the teacher – that is so sweet, and sounds like a nice silver lining if it created a level of trust and comfort between them.

    • Hi, Amy. Thanks for being another voice of the “yeah, my mom screwed up but I’m not broken” chorus of bloggers who…heeeeey, wait a minute. Why are we all presuming we’re okay? ;-)
      Yup, silver lining was pretty cute.

  9. oh nap, there should be a whole section in the sympathy card aisle for times like this. mine to you, with a sappy watercolor bouquet on front, says “you’ve cleaned his butt, wiped his snot, chased away monsters, fed him, repeatedly, good, whole food, sang the same damn song every night for years and maintained a shred of your sanity…(now inside) a punch out medal for mother of the year, cause you still deserve it.”

    this motherhood gig ‘aint for the weak. i didn’t even send mine in on early dismissal days, none of us can handle it, not for half day kindergarten. first grade starts on wednesday, thanks to you i am checking the dismissal time right now!!!

    hang in, breathe. there are worse things, it just doesn’t feel like it today.

    • Tara, tara, tara.
      Hallmark must hire you now.
      And not just because you remembered the song. (gads the song…I still have five little ducks PTSD.) Because you mentally gave me a cardboard gold circle for remembering to feed my kid. Every mom should get that.
      Thank you.

  10. Best LOL of the day! I’m gonna fall asleep giggling, my friend. I can picture you, the late crazed lunatic, walk-running up the street to get Peanut.
    The apple was the cherry on top of the crap cupcake. Gee, thanks mom.
    I love his teacher already.

    • Glad I bemused you, Unicorn. There were a few sideways glances as I hustled a half naked sleeping toddler up the street, sweating like a politician in an elevator of Daily Show viewers.

      And when I tried to reconnect by asking about lunch and got the loose tooth answer, it was totally beer-o-clock.

      His teacher is the single best thing about my year. Seriously. Your visit *was* first, but she’s here for the next ten months, so…

  11. Pingback: Back to school « Pics of Then

  12. I was going to wait to comment until I read to the most recent blog post, but I cannot wait any longer. I. Love. You. Seriously. I can’t remember how I found your blog, but am so thankful I did. As a mom to a 16 month old, I cherish your wisdom and humor, and am so thankful to have found someone who articulates so much more cleverly than I ever could how I feel about this full time mom gig. From reading this blog start to finish (or thereabouts), I believe we could be best friends in real life. I apologize for how stalker-y that sounds, but you really get me. Your children are lucky they have you.

    • That is one of the kindest things I’ve heard in a long time.

      Thank you so much.

      So glad I’ve made even a little of this amazing, beautiful, dreadful, fascinating, infuriating phase feel a little more…what…normal? I started this blog to see if anyone else felt as I did about the ups and downs. And I found you! Yay!

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