Just as we were getting used to our summer routine at home after vacation, it’s time to disrupt it for yet another major life event – Little Miss started Kindergarten! I don’t know who was more excited, her or me. I admit, I don’t seem to be plagued by the worries and pangs of first-day-of-school parents; many years of preschool took care of that for us. She’s a pro in making friends, finding her way around, and impressing her teachers, after all. She’s got this.
One thing that did get me worried is how the rigid schedule will affect our family. We’ve never really attended a preschool with a strict time policy, so on most days, we’d saunter into class when we’re good and ready. Which could be anywhere between 8AM and nearly 10AM. Now, with a 7:45 start time for girls who often wake at 7:30, it’s going to be interesting.
But what’s more interesting is that, for someone born and raised in Malaysia, the American school system is completely new to me. I have no idea what it’s like for the kid or what to expect as a parent. My Guy provides the occasional insight from his experience in a suburban school, but mostly, I’m winging it, like I do with much of this parenting gig. As a half work-at-home, half stay-at-home parent, I knew I could afford to be more involved in my girls’ school, but it wasn’t until Kindergarten orientation that I realized just how much more I needed to do to step up my game.
School pickup and dropoff. After-school activities. School lunches. After-school snacks. Homework. Packing the bag for the next day. Not to mention PTA meetings, volunteering in school, and the occasional playgroups.
Holy cow, that alone feels like a full-time job. And that’s just one kid.
But I can do this, I tell myself. In fact, I’m excited to get involved and find my place in Little Miss’ new world. I’ve complained about my girls orbiting around me every time we’re together. They like staying close, playing near me, seeing my shadow in their periphery. Now that Little Miss is in school, that centrifugal force that tethers us will soon lose its power. My influence as a parent will soon be usurped by that of her friends and teachers. I know, I’m being dramatic, but it happens, and while I want to see her find her place in the world, I also want to be close enough so she knows she has the space to grow but she can still always count on me when the need arises.
And so i figuratively fold my sleeves up and get down to this elementary school business. It starts with the school lunch, which, out of my own excitement, took me an hour to prepare as I had to be creative with what tools and materials we had in the kitchen to make it fun for her. It still wasn’t Pinterest worthy, but hey, I had to work with what I had. My Guy made fun of me when he saw me making her a card so I could slip in a note for her first lunch at school. Hey, she’s my first baby! Shut up.
After the painstaking planning of her lunch, I went to bed, eager for the next morning. We set our timer for the coffee, ready to conquer Kindergarten as a family. Except we forgot one thing: we forgot to set our alarm. And that’s how the girls found us the next day, still sound asleep. Probably drooling. The moment I heard them and saw the morning light in my room, however, I leapt to my feet. I knew something was wrong. I checked the time: 6:55. Arrgh! How the hell did that happen?
However, something magical happened. Even though we’d planned on waking at least 30 minutes earlier, having only 20 minutes to do everything kept us all, especially the girls, laser focused. We neither needed to plead with them to finish their food nor coax them to get dressed. They were amused by our panic. Perhaps seeing us in a comical state inspired them to cooperate, like implicitly agreeing together, all right, let’s help these clowns out.
In the end, we still somehow made it with 10 minutes to spare. They both had breakfast, they brushed their teeth, and Little Miss even had her picture taken. Booyah! I felt really bad for screwing up, and I apologized repeatedly to Little Miss, who was just thrilled that she got to “save the day” by unexpectedly and miraculously waking earlier than usual. Luckily, we get to redeem ourselves as we get a do over – again and again, for everyday for the next 15 years. Surely we’ll get some of those days right.
But just in case…I’ve already set my alarm for the next morning.