A Tale of Two Kindergarteners

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

Michael started Kindergarten four days ago. It hasn’t been good. There has been crying. And pleading. And death grips. I know this is not out of the ordinary. I know starting Kindergarten can be overwhelming for a lot of kids. I know riding the bus can be downright scary for a little person who still needs me to wipe his rear after #2. I know. I just didn’t want it to be this way.

Let me give you a quick synopsis of the last four days.

Day 1: Michael is in fairly good spirits on the morning of his first day. We snap these pictures for posterity.

But these pictures will forever be a misrepresentation of how his first day really went. The bus pulls up. He takes two steps on, turns around, takes two steps off, then grabs onto me for dear life. My husband picks him up and physically places him on the bus. The bus driver quickly shuts the door and then drives off with my little guy sobbing and searching for a seat on the already crowded vehicle of elementary school torment. Then I cry.

Day 2: The bus pulls up. Michael won’t even get near it. I pick him up and try to put him on it. Larry the Bus Driver tries to get the kids in the front seat to scoot over and make some room so Michael can sit near him. The kids just stare blankly. Michael claws my neck. I apologize and tell Larry the Bus Driver that I will just take him to school. Michael cries when I drop him off at his classroom.

Day 3: We don’t even try the bus. I take him to school. He walks in already whimpering, then escalates to the cry that comes from a place so deep that it doesn’t even make a noise when it comes out. His teacher has to pull him off of me.

Day 4: He starts getting weepy during breakfast. Obviously, the bus is no longer an option I even consider. Upon entering the school, we have a repeat performance of yesterday.

🙁

I hate it. It makes my heart all mopey that his anxiety over separating from me is getting in the way of the sheer excitement he should be feeling about Kindergarten. I know it won’t always be this way. This too shall pass. And I guess I should be feeling very flattered that he loves being around me so much. ..even though I really suck at playing Transformers.

I wish that instead of being the kindergartener who is afraid to go to school, he could be the kindergartener he is at home: the confident, energetic, crazy, fun one. I would love to help those two little kindergarteners change places…and not just because I wouldn’t mind getting a piece of the kid who is apparently really quiet and follows rules.

But no one gets a magic wand when they get their parenting gig; I can’t conveniently “Freaky Friday” the situation. And I am unfortunately not a sitcom parent who just needs to cue the sentimental music and deliver some wise and carefully crafted words that put everything into perspective for my child who is unrealistically mature for his age. It’s simply going to take time, and consistency, and love, and many, many brave faces each time the teacher in the drop-off line has to physically remove my child from my car and walk him into school. And one of these days, those two kindergarteners will slowly begin to trade places, or at least find a way to co-exist with each other. Maybe the anxious, sad little kindergartener will pull a Sydney Carton and allow my little Charles Darnay kindergartener, full of life and curiosity, to be free to enjoy all the bliss that comes with a really great day at school.

In the meantime, if anyone who has experienced this with their child has any suggestions, I’m all ears.

*****

Speaking of school, remember two weeks ago when I posted reasons why it was time for my kids to go back to school? Well, that post is currently being featured on BlogHer!!!! I’ve never been featured before! It feels like my birthday! Oh wait…it IS my birthday! Thanks to BlogHer for giving me a nice little gift today!! You can check out the post HERE…feel free to leave me comments or favorite it there (hint, hint)! I’m trying to be all cool about it like, Whatevs…I’m a pro blogger. This stuff happens to me all the time. But it doesn’t. So I’m going to be all goofball excited about it. I might even do a little dance. Probably the “Roger Rabbit.”


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23 Responses

  1. You poor things. I definitely got teary-eyed over this situation. Even though you’re completely right and this too shall pass, the beginning part sucks. I have no wise words because my kiddo is only 2 and, as long as I play with him for 60 seconds before leaving him at daycare, he’ll wave me out the door. I hope it gets better soon! And YES to the Roger Rabbit:)

    • It’s hard at any age. I know mommas everywhere have experienced this at one time or another. Thanks for the empathy 🙂

  2. sistersara

    yuck. I am sending my #2 daughter off to kindergarten next Tuesday. Just going to the open house included 15 minutes of wailing before we got in the van. I am not looking forward to next week!! Good luck to you!!! Hope he feels better about it by time Monday comes around! 🙂
    (And Happy Birthday!!)

    • Aw. Poor girl. Good luck to you guys! Hopefully by the end of the school year we both have kids who go to school like it’s no big deal!!

  3. Anne Blind

    No wise words from me either… Unfortunately (or fortunately) both Michael and Matthew were eager to leave me standing there without even a hug! Not even a little whimper – guess it was harder for me than them. A happy medium would be nice in both of our cases. I can tell you that when we took Matt to TU for college and leaving him there was the hardest thing I ever had to do – “Just say goodbye , give him a hug and a kiss and then walk away!” He of course acted all brave but had tears in his eyes. I said my goodbye, hugged him and could not look back. And then of course I cried the whole way home! No one ever said being a mother is easy! Hang in there !

  4. 1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!
    2. Holy bananas… the BlogHer spot is AWESOME. I’m doing the Roger Rabbit over here for ya. I personally would have picked the M.C. Hammer… but I won’t be picky b/c I’m so happy for you! (And proof that my little guy needs to go back to school: I want to hop over there and comment right now, but somebody just woke up. Timing is everything.)
    3. I have delved into the separation anxiety stuff myself. And it sucked. And I felt like she was the only one; and that I was the only one. And it did pass. But when it was in the meantime, when it hasn’t yet passed, that I felt sort of helpless and like I was doing the wrong thing trying to push her (off of me) and out of her shell. And bless you for writing about it.
    Not to get on the pulpit or anything, but I gotta share what came to my mind as I read this and everything came back to the forefront for me. God gave Michael to YOU because he knew you were the perfect mom for him. He knew your patience and love, mixed with just the right ounce of mean were perfect to help him weather this storm. Yes, this too shall eventually pass. This too sucks. But you have got what it takes. And he does too. He just needs to have a chat with his at-home kindergarten self.
    4. You rock.

    • I seriously heart you. And I needed to read this because I of course of reading stuff on separation anxiety and it was talking about making sure you spend quality time with your kid because the more secure the child feels in his relationship with you, the less likely he is to be worried about being away from you. Then I went all psychoanalytic (or just psycho) about being a bad mom who doesn’t make my kid feel secure. But then Mags saves the day!!! THANK YOU!

  5. How this reminds me of Jared’s first day of kindergarten only it was me doing the really bad wailing day after stupid day. He went to school two miles down the road and I was bawling before the bus got here. He hopped on the bus with his big sis and I was uncontrollable because I thought my last baby was gone. I picked him up after school and the principal came out because he said he wanted to meet the mother that the bus driver said was running after the bus. True story.
    My daughter is a KDG teacher and she tells me that the little ones that are really scared are her favorites because she knows that they come from love. I wish she was your little guys teacher. It will get better for both of you.

    • Ha!!! So you were famous from the get-go? I love what your daughter says about the scared ones…it makes me feel better. And I didn’t mention this in the post, but his teacher has been FANTASTIC. She has called me each day to let me know how he fared the rest of the school day, and we’ve been working together on a drop-off routine he can get used to. I didn’t even have to ask for her help…she picked up on it on the first day. And the good news is, Michael really likes her. So that can only be helpful.

      • I am glad he has a good teacher. To me that is everything. Those teachers are special to me because I know how much effort Brooke puts into her class and how much her students mean to her.

  6. Coming at this experience from the teacher’s perspective (15 years) I’d say not to be worried that he wants a ride to school. Many parents do that. This is hard,but, just make the drop off short sweet. Don’t feel bad about leaving him crying. I’ve seen tons of kids cry their eyes out for mom, and 2 minutes after she’s gone everything is fine. (This doesn’t happen on day 1 or even 4.) But most kids are done with the big tears at the end of 20 days. After that it’s 2 minutes of tears and then it’s … Where are my friends? It really does pass.

    • Thanks so much for this. I know he eventually moves on, and he was actually really talkative tonight about things he did at school today. So that’s a good sign!!! And love that good, experienced teachers like you know how to handle these kids!

  7. It’ll get better!!! Last year, Alex literally had to be PRIED off my body at times — he wrapped his arms and legs around me and clung like a little monkey!!! I just tried to keep the goodbye short & sweet, with the same routine every day: hug, kiss, “I love you… see you tonight,” then let the teacher pry him off my torso and run out into the hall before he could see the tears in my eyes. He was loving school after a little while, and yesterday, he did an honest-to-goodness happy dance because he was so excited for his first day.

    Hey, we can’t help it we are SUCH AWESOME MOMMIES!!!!

    • So true. We rock 🙂 I LOVE hearing that!! Thanks Korisa! And that’s the plan. Short, sweet, consistent routine. I’m so happy to hear that worked for Alex. And he looked so adorable and happy in his back-to-school photo this year!!!

  8. Oh man, I really feel for you. C is starting in with the early, early stages of separation anxiety, and her new ability to call out MA-MAAAAAAAA when she wants me doesn’t make it any easier. I will watch and learn from you, the master, because as far as I’m concerned you’re a Jedi for being able NOT to cry in front of him when he’s crying. I’m not there yet :/

    • It is hard sometimes, but you will learn to do it too. You just kind of have to contort your face…you look ridiculous, but you don’t cry.

  9. Dang it, I’m so sorry. I know it will pass and you know it will … but still, NOT FUN and I’m sorry 🙁 Keep us updated, ok? And the Blogher thing? I did Roger Rabbit FOR YOU and even threw in some intricate jazz hand action … it was beyond impressive.

    • Aw, thanks!! It doesn’t get better than jazz hands! And thankfully, drop-off went a little better this morning. Baby steps 🙂

  10. […] My baby starting Kindergarten has hit me a little harder than I had expected. Cut to just a few short weeks ago, I was the one listing off the reasons it was time for my kids to go back to school. I was antsy, on the verge of discovering for the first time the freedom that comes with having both of my children educated all day long, five days a week. This was something I had passing fantasies about for the last eight years. So I didn’t expect to find myself grieving when my wish finally came true. […]

  11. Since you were nice enough to engage me in a comment exchange, I thought I’d share a quick ‘daddy story’ with you about our first born and his preschool days as a 4 year old. I’ll keep it short for ‘Comment Efficiency’.

    #1 was a quiet and loving type. He came home one day and told me about another kid who kept hitting him at school. I asked the ‘teacher’ about it and she said that it was true. So I had a good daddy talk with him and told him that we should try to avoid fights but sometimes mean kids only understand fighting. So if this kid hits you again, you can hit him back.

    Fast forward to the very next day and we get a phone call from teacher – Hi Kim. Oh everything’s fine….except your son picked up a chair and threw it on little ‘Billy’……

    Billy never bothered our son again. Neither did any other kids. I like to think of it as it was his way of demonstrating he was capable of delivering a Hiroshima-style punishment….so back off!

    🙂

    (btw – you’re going to find that they’re going to be a goldmine of blogging material for you)

    • They already have been for the past two years! It’s great living with constant inspiration 🙂 Glad your son was able to take care of business! Fortunately, we haven’t encountered anything like that yet. It could have something to do with my son being at least a head taller than most kids his age. Who wants to pick on a kid bigger than you?

  12. […] of trepidation, all the while disguising my own sadness. I lamented about the experience being like A Tale of Two Kindergarteners, where I wished for the confident little boy he was at home to trade places with the quiet, unsure […]

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