Today was Rainbow’s first day at Junior Kindergarten. She had some last minute reservations. She was so excited that she had a hard time falling asleep last night, so I wasn’t surprised when she told me she was tired, and felt like maybe she wasn’t done sleeping. She didn’t like the change in our usually leisurely mornings. She complained that there was no time to read or play, as we had to focus on eating breakfast and getting ready to leave. She then tried to tell me that she was sick. That her throat hurt, and she thought maybe she shouldn’t go.
It was so tempting to keep her home. I did have second thoughts later, thinking dear God I hope I didn’t just send her to school actually feeling ill, but I think she just had a bad case of the jitters. I almost wanted to laugh at my four year old pretending to be sick to get out of going to school. I thought you had to be in at least grade one before you started trying to pull that one.
I did not tell her that I would miss her like crazy. I told her that I was very excited for her, and that I couldn’t wait for her to come home at the end of the day and tell me all about it.
On the walk to the bus I had to hold her backpack for her. It was too heavy because of the extra set of clothes and wear-indoors at school shoes she was carrying. She worried that she wouldn’t be able to carry the bag when she got off the bus. Now, since fifteen minutes previous she was lugging it around the house proudly proclaiming how strong she is, I figured she would be ok. I assured her that once the extra clothes and shoes came out and stayed at the school, her bag would be lighter. She then started to worry about the shoes.
“It is very nice out today. I wish I was wearing my Crocs with no socks”. I informed her, not for the first time, that she must wear socks and shoes to go to school. “All day? I can’t wear shoes all day?! My feet will get sweaty!! I don’t like sweaty feet!” I assured her that when she got home after school she could take her shoes off and air out her feet. I told her if she liked she could take a bath, and wash her feet. She wouldn’t be swayed, and continued to obsess over being forced to wear shoes. Of the many things I thought she might get upset over, this I never imagined.
I was so worried about making it to the bus on-time, that we got there about 20 minutes early. I knew which intersection we were supposed to be catching the bus at, but not what side of the street. I was worried we might be standing in the wrong spot, and I was completely paranoid that the bus was going to pass us right by. So when a bright yellow school bus approached and didn’t make to stop, I literally jumped into the street and attempted to flag it down. The driver completely ignored me, and continued on his merry way. Visions of having to take the public city bus, and of arriving an hour late for Rainbow’s first day of school, danced through my head. I checked the time and realized we still had at least 10 minutes until her bus was supposed to be there. What followed was an agonizing 10 minutes, where in I jumped into traffic and flagged down four different school buses, only to have each one turn us away. No. Not the right bus. I go to that school, but she’s not on my list. (Panic: What if they forgot to add her name to the list??) What bus company does she go with? (Panic: They have different bus companies?? ) Is it a short or a long bus? (I don’t bloody know, it’s our first day!)
Finally I saw a mother approaching with two young children in tow. She stopped and stood on someone’s lawn across the street. I grabbed the kids, headed that way and asked if she was waiting for the same school as us, and thankfully she was. The bus arrived within half a minute of our introductions. I held Rainbow’s backpack for her as she went up the stairs, handed her bag over to her and said have a good day. As I started to head back over to where I had left Rocket sitting in the stroller, I turn to see my daughter standing in the bus, just past the driver’s seat, looking utterly lost. I had to go back to her and tell her to go find a spot and sit down. Then I stood and waved and waved as the bus pulled away, though I couldn’t see her looking out the window.
I murmured my thanks to the other mom, turned to walk home, and then I started to cry. I was shaking, and tears were streaming down my cheeks. I was glad that Rocket was down in the stroller, and not in my arms. I bit my tongue and tried so hard not to cry. I felt like an idiot walking down the street barely holding back from sobbing.
As much as I have been hesitant about sending her, worrying over my decision and considering keeping her home… I did not expect to cry. I was shocked to find myself a sobbing mess this morning. I reined it in. I had to. I didn’t want to upset Rocket with a hysterical mother. I hung out with the babe, who seemed to be missing her sister and was being a bit annoying with wanting to nurse non-stop. She passed out on me hours before her normal naptime and I luxuriated in the fact that, with Rainbow gone, I had a chance to Get Things Done.
Though I have to admit, I became anxious and restless waiting for 4pm and bus pick up time to come around. Rocket and I walked down to the bus stop and Rainbow rolled in just a few minutes past when I was told to expect her. She was dozy, half-asleep, wondering where she was and disappointed that she now had to walk home.
I asked about her day and she said it was good. She seemed most excited about the fact that she got to have recess, and three times at that. Her father came walking down the street to meet us, he got a giant running hug. Me? As I later sat on the floor helping her unpack her school bag she randomly blurted out, “I didn’t miss you at all.” in a sort of mean tone. Ouch. Shot down. I mentally counted to three and said, “Well, that’s good. I’m glad you had such a good time that you were too busy to miss me!”
Her father and I carefully tried to pump her for information on her first day, and were stone-walled. There were kids. No she didn’t play with them. Yes, she made some friends, but she didn’t remember their names and couldn’t tell us anything about them. She played. She ate. No they didn’t teach her anything. They just sang a song. It was in French. She said she didn’t remember the words, or even what it was about.
I had concerns over my slow-poke eater and timed lunch periods. She claims she ate until she was full, which just happened to be right when recess started. She told me she ate part of her snack-time apple and tossed the rest, which is fine. I looked in her lunch box and miraculously it was empty! However, she then told me she dropped it and dumped the leftovers on the ground while waiting for the bus home. So I have no way to tell how much she actually ate. She came home ravenous. The moment we set foot in the door she immediately demanded food and drink. Once we were at home Rainbow was hyper, loud and crispy fried. Which is pretty much what I expected from the combination of exciting day plus no nap.
She later said a few things that caused me concern. Things like “I would sneak up and Bam! take the toy and run and Slam! put it in the fridge as fast as I could. I was being a mean monster and sneaking up and stealing the toys. No, it was ok the teacher didn’t say no. Some of the kids were screaming and yelling. Everyone knew I was the bad guy. I was the monster!”. That sort of thing; where her father and I aren’t certain if she is describing some sort of approved play activity, or the most dreadful behaviour problem ever.
The note that came home from the teacher just said that Rainbow had a great day and that we would need to buy her a larger backpack. It sort of kills me; not knowing exactly what she did all day. Can I just attach a micro-cassette recorder to my kid or something. Maybe some serious James Bond type spy-wear, so then I could know what she actually did all day?
I guess the important part is she had a good time and she is looking forward to going back on Thursday. Does it get any easier, sticking them on that bus the second, the third day, and so on? I still get a bit of a lump in my throat thinking about it. Sigh.
(As an aside, re: my morning bus antics – Yes, I know, this is why this have a day set aside for introducing your kids to the bus. A day we missed by waiting so late to enroll. So all this extra stress and panic, totally my fault. Also, the bus drivers were very polite and patient with the crazy lady dancing around in the street and accosting them.)