I should start by saying we are only a week into school. I fully realize my list will expand as the days go on. For now, these are the things I didn’t realize or expect would happen. Also, I should mention this is our first experience in a school, so I’m completely clueless. Maybe there will be a few other clue challenged moms out there reading this. For the experts, you can just have a good giggle.
1. I feel lost.
We both survived the drop-off that first day. The next few were a blur of tears and frantic texts to friends and my husband and scrubbing of bathtubs, which passed the time. Then came the first day of less tears and no plans. I just paced the kitchen in a perpetual circle wiping a clean counter and thinking, What is this new life? What now? I knew I’d miss him. I knew life would be different. I didn’t know I’d feel so lost. It will get better, or so I keep telling myself.
2. They smell different.
The first two days were uneventful in the stained clothes, dirty kid department. I was fully expecting to need to torch his clothes each night. Then day 3 happened. I picked him up and when we got home his face and clothes looked like they lost a fight with a pizza monster. He also smelled funny. Like wet dog meets baby skunk meets something my olfactory hasn’t yet discovered. It hasn’t happened since (yet), but I’ll always be curious about the day 3 stink mystery.
3. I have no idea what he does all day.
I’ve been with this child daily for his entire life. At one time I could tell you about every second of his day. Now, I leave him for way too many hours and when I can finally retrieve my boy, he magically has no idea what he did. Is it school day amnesia? Does he just want to relax and not answer 100 questions rapidly fired on the drive home? I’ve been ready to burst all day to find out what he was up to. The questioning just shoots out like a tennis ball launcher, I cannot stop it. Yesterday I had him role play being my teacher. That helped. I learned so much more about his day. I occasionally snuck in the, “is that what you do at school?” Not too often though, for fear he’d stop playing.
4. Walking away wasn’t the hardest.
This part I knew and dreaded. It’s hard to leave him, but I was able to hug him and walk away without screaming and running back for another kiss. I was actually worried that might happen. For me, it was that last look back. Seeing him tiny, scared and alone in the big world without my hand to hold. That is what pulled the tears from their little storage cubes deep down in my heart. I still walk to my car reaching for his hand and looking for him. It will take time, or so I keep telling myself.
5. The sibling left behind is sad too.
I tried to prep his younger sister. She’s only known life with her big brother right there. They are close in age and had finally started playing well together. She has cried for him every single day. Big tears. My heart is already breaking missing him, now I see hers is too. We’ve tried to keep busy. We’re learning this new life together. I’m discovering even more how she’s a quirky girl like her mama. Maybe we’ll spend the days giggling over silly things.
6. Teachers work extremely hard.
I knew this. I even have somewhat of a teaching background. Seeing the time and effort the teachers at his school put into teaching these kids makes my heart want to skip around and do a heel-click. I’ve gone into the school several times to walk him in or do volunteer things. Every door I pass, I look in and there’s a smiling teacher busy getting ready for the day. I know they got there much earlier than the kids. I know they’ve prepped a lot over the summer, they’ll stay after school and even do things on weekends. Not to mention, having the energy and heart to maintain a whole room of small kids all day. It’s just amazing to me and I’m so grateful.
7. The car rider lines.
Where do I start? Since I am currently staying home with my kids, I thought it would work best to take and pick up vs. the bus. This has proven to be one of the most stressful ventures of my life. I first realized one big issue way too late. He can’t buckle/unbuckle his seat. I barely can some days and I have giant thumbs.
It’s against the law to get out of your car in this line. Not really, but on the second day a man in front of me got out. The car rider helpers faces went pale, they started to quickly scatter around. It looked like an ant line that got off track. It was 2 minutes of sheer panic. I crouched down and glanced around for blue lights. They never came but I knew then we had a problem. It’s a tuck and roll situation folks.
We worked over the weekend on buckling and can now avoid the stepping out of the car stress. I always give big hugs before we leave the house and try not to linger too long. It’s hard to stop watching that backpack on teeny legs walk up to that great big brick wall and out of sight. It gets too blurry anyway, with the heart tears trickling out, so I force the gas pedal and the sobs down.
8. They grow up the first day.
I knew he’d gain a lot of independence and learn so much going to school. What I wasn’t prepared for was the immediate change. I took in a little kid. He has always been smart and mature for his age, but that first night at dinner I felt the need to light him a cigar and top off his coffee. I looked at him eating his mashed potatoes and talking about his day and I saw my husband. The way he held himself, the words he used, his mannerisms. Though I never mentioned it to anyone else I was screaming inside. Mourning my innocent little boy I held just that morning. Now, I’m seeing a good middle ground of the two. It sure caught me off guard that first night though.
I know there will be so many other things to learn and experience as the days and years fly by. For now, I’m just trying to enjoy the ride. It will get easier, or so I keep telling myself.
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