School Daze

The 2 1/2 yo and his trusty backpack, ready for the first day of preschool.

The 2 1/2 yo and his trusty backpack, ready for the first day of preschool.

My head has been in a total fog all day… I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around the fact that my youngest child just started school. Okay, granted, it’s just preschool, and it’s only two mornings a week, but, still… I have three kids who are all old enough to be IN SCHOOL. Which means, I finally have (hold on, let me get my fingers out… that’s one, two, three hours each day… times two days a week, that’s…) SIX WHOLE HOURS A WEEK WITHOUT KIDS. My head is spinning…

Now, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t sign my 2½yo  up for preschool just so I could finally get rid of all my kids at the same time (not that I either judge or begrudge any parent who does so just to get some alone time!). Indeed, I worried a bit that he’s still too young; with the other two kids, I waited until they were a bit older before enrolling them in school, and I really do prefer (most days anyway) having them home with me while they’re little. No, I decided that Broder, who absolutely adores his 10yo sister and 6yo brother and does absolutely everything they do – regardless of whether or not he’s old enough to, say, walk out the front door without a parent (oh yeah, he pulled that one over the weekend… while I was oh so conveniently downstairs folding laundry; luckily, Liam saw him head out and chased him down the sidewalk (he’s fast!!), dragged him back in the house kicking and screaming, and then quickly tattled on him – that’s what I call a goooooood big brother) – could benefit from some time with kids his own age, and engaging in a bit more of, shall we say, constructive play than oh, I don’t know, beating on his (very influential older) siblings with a Jedi sword or two (and I haven’t even let him watch Star Wars yet!).

So last week we went to visit the small Montessori preschool where three of his friends already go. It’s nothing big or intimidating, just the daylight-basement of his teacher’s home; very inviting and comfortable, full of fun toys and pet fish and various projects and happy kiddos going about their work. He seemed enthralled, and explored the place like he’d been there every day of his life, happily eating some goldfish crackers right out of one of his friend’s bowl (naturally!). So far, so good…

But having gone through two “first days of school” already, I had enough experience to know that it wasn’t going to school that’d be the issue. It would be me leaving the school that could potentially bring on the drama-slash-waterworks. So, all weekend I reminded him that I’d be saying “bye-bye.” Was he going to be okay with that? And every time I asked, he’d happily nod his consent. Hmm. I’d believe it when I saw it.

I woke up this morning, his first day of school, both excited and a bit conflicted; I knew preschool would be good for him, but I am really (really really really really) sad that my baby (my baby!!) is “leaving home” already! Broder, on the other hand, was only excited when I brought out his backpack. NO nerves there! He put it on right away, and ran downstairs to – very proudly – show it off to his big brother and sister, turning for them like a model on the runway (I’m not kidding, he even sashayed!). They, of course, being very smart siblings, applauded and cheered for him, and he quietly beamed with pleasure. Bill left with the 10yo to take her to school (recall, Paisley has an 8:30am drop off time), a few minutes before our own scheduled departure, and Broder stood at the door, with his cute backpack on, staring outside, ready to go. I gulped down – I mean, delicately sipped – the last of my coffee and hoped his positive attitude would last…

Broder leading the way to his new school. He's running, if you can't tell. RUNNING. What a tease!

Broder leading the way to his new school. He’s running, if you can’t tell. RUNNING. (What a tease!)

We arrived at the school and were the first ones there. He walked in like a boss, ready to own the place. It was awesome. I literally had to hold him down to get his coat off, and then had to chase him down again to get his shoes off (which, by the way, his papa had put on the wrong feet – I only mention this in retaliation for some text messages said Papa sent my way this afternoon; I’ll get to those in a minute…). His enthusiasm didn’t wane as some of the other kids came in. I chatted with his teacher for a few minutes, and all looked very promising for an easy drop off (Wait – did you just snort with laughter?! Not nice! Not nice at all…). As he darted by me on his way to the next shiny item that caught his eye I said “bye-bye” – and watched him stop as abruptly as if he’d hit a brick wall. Oh, dear… He spun around on his little sock-clad heel and walked to the door, ready to go with me. His hand was on the door knob when I reminded him of all our conversations over the weekend and how Mama had to say “bye-bye” and take Liam to school (recall, Liam has a 9:30am drop off time – Broder’s drop off is 8:45am; and yes, I want to stab myself in the temple with a fork whenever I think of trying to juggle three different drop off times – and three different pick up times – at three different schools for the next several months). Apparently he didn’t remember us having these little talks. “Me go,” he claimed. “Me go, too! Go go go!!” And his “Go go go!” just kept getting louder as I pried his sweet fingers off the door handle, gave him a kiss and passed him off to his (thankfully very calm and been-there-done-that) teacher and walked out the door…

And listened to his “Go go go!” all the way down the sidewalk…

Feeling like the WORST MOTHER EVER.

Of course, I’d felt this same truly terrible feeling twice before, on my other kids’ first days of school, but when it comes to saying good-bye to your child (whether they’re crying or not) for an extended period of time, well, let’s just say practice doesn’t make perfect. The first day of school (or daycare or nanny-care or any length of time that will persist for several days a week for what feels like eternity) is ALWAYS HARD, for everyone involved. I felt so bad for Broder, and for myself!, and I don’t even know how I got Liam to school; I can’t remember which route we took or how long it took. I do know we got there on time, and that I actually deposited my child in the right place (thank goodness!), because as the final bell was ringing I had a total mini PANIC ATTACK (yes, yes I did) as I looked around for Broder, my suddenly missing constant companion, before I remembered that he was at his own school. Heart still racing, I was in a total daze by the time I walked through the front door after dropping off both boys.

At which point, realizing I didn’t have a child to feed, entertain, or put down for a nap, it finally dawned on me that I had THREE WHOLE HOURS (okay, really two and a half, given the driving time to and from, but still!) without any kiddo interruptions. W. O. W. What to do, what to do??!!

What I should have done is gone upstairs and jumped on the bed in excitement (though as I’d already made my bed this morning, this might have been quite the psychological struggle, and I confess, I don’t think I could have done it had I thought of it); or have called a friend to meet up for coffee (there must be someone I know who doesn’t have to work or take care of their kids… though, I can’t think of anyone right now); or gone grocery shopping all on my own (truly, as anyone who’s taken three kids – or heck, even just one kid – grocery shopping can attest, shopping all on your own is a little slice of Heaven on Earth); or gone shopping-shopping (wow, what a novel concept: actually browsing in a grown-up department store, where I can find clothes in my size, and without getting bashed in the face, over and over again, by the free balloon from the kids’ shoe department – which for some reason I’m always carrying, what’s up with that?! – the balloon which I freely admit I use to bribe my child/ren with whenever I attempt to shop with any of them in tow; it’s a stupid idea shopping with your kids, I know, but sometimes it must be done); or just curled up in my big comfy chair with a big delicious cup of coffee and a big thought-provoking novel (I’m thinking it’s about time I actually managed to finish a book for Book Club again; just a thought …); or, if I wanted to go the responsible adult route (I know, I know; who wants to be a responsible adult?! Boo hiss!), started on some of the large-scale work projects that are lurking on the horizon (like a complete web site redesign; can we say “hours??”); or even tackled some of the pesky “spring-cleaning” (okay, fine, “year-round”) tasks around the house (all of which feel rather Sisyphean in nature, but at some point I actually *do* need to sort through all the kids’ clothes and shoes – as I’m pretty sure my 10yo hasn’t worn the size 4T dresses still hanging in her closest in, oh, you know, a couple of years – nor is my kitchen pantry going to rearrange itself into a more useful organizational system no matter how many times I beg it to); or (perhaps the very best idea), just TAKEN A NAP (sigh… doesn’t that sound ridiculously decadent??)

And I would have happily done any and all of these should-have-dones (well, I wouldn’t have happily started organizing my kitchen pantry – that just sounds horrible – but I would’ve at least enjoyed the satisfaction of having an organized kitchen pantry…), IF my brain wasn’t still with my baby boy… Three measly miles away. So, instead, I cleaned the breakfast things from the table while fretting about whether or not my little guy was still crying; and constantly checked my phone to see if the ringer was on; and checked again that the ringer was turned up loud enough so I could hear it in case Broder’s teacher needed to call me and tell me to come pick up the UNHAPPIEST CHILD ON THE PLANET right away; and texted my husband when the phone didn’t ring (which totally didn’t help comfort my jittery nerves, as he simply said that Broder would be fine, if maybe a bit mad at me, and reminded me to not forget that Broder likes to throw things – like his very hard plastic tippy-cups – at those unfortunate souls who do make him mad, and maybe I shouldn’t turn my back on him this afternoon; thanks for that, honey – really, thanks! – kisses!!); and basically watched the clock slowly slowly slowly tick-tick-tock its way toward the time I could get back in the car and drive to the new school and pick up my little sweet pea and hug him and hug him and hug him.

And then come home and put him down for his nap.

So I could finally get some work done! Assuming that my brain would no longer be in a worried fog…

I was ten minutes early picking him up. I tried to stay in the car, but I had a hard time concentrating on people’s Facebook posts on my iPhone… so I gave up and went inside…

To be told by my love bug, my youngest child who had cried and cried and cried and WAILED and broke my HEART into itty bitty little pieces when I left that morning, that he didn’t want to go home.

Are you KIDDING me??

What a stinker!!

And that’s when my brain finally started kicking in (well, what’s left of my brain, anyway; after 10 years of parenthood, we’re not talking Mensa-quality here, but, hey, it’s all I’ve got). Well, fine! Two can play at that game…You had fun? Fun?! Now it’s Mama’s turn…

That’s right, baby. Time to take a nap (sigh…). Time to read some (what I call) Bad Mama Books (yeah, you know the ones; the books, sanctioned by Book Club or not, that you can’t put down even if your kids are clubbing each other with a baseball bat you mistakenly forgot to put back in the too-high-to-reach-even-if-they’re-standing-on-a-chair-hiding-spot while in the same room in which you’re sitting and reading). Time to email the graphic artist and web programmer (done!) about that new web site design and skip off to Nirvana, aka Nordstrom’s shoe department (I’ll even take a balloon for myself, thank you!). Time to forget about getting this house in shape (because, like, that’s going to happen!) and even forget about going to the grocery store and head off, instead, to find the perfect Americano.

So, who wants to meet me for coffee? I’ll see you on Wednesday morning…

Right after I get done jumping on the bed.

5 thoughts on “School Daze

  1. Can you imagine the fun he will have when Braden and Charlie are there. We are in trouble Jill! It warms my heart that all of them are together.

  2. I’d meet you! Give me a couple of days though, because it’s a really long drive. That sounds like my experience with my son in his preschool and will probably be very similar to my experience with him next year as he starts Kindergarten. Ack.

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