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Posts Tagged ‘kindergarten’

  1. Crappy Valentine’s Day

    February 20, 2011 by Wendy

    Valentine’s Day used to be my favorite holiday. Ever since I was little, I loved everything about it—the conversation hearts, giving and getting the tiny little cards folded over and sealed with a heart sticker, pink frosted cookies and the heart-shaped boxes of waxy chocolate pieces filled with orange or pink fluff.

    Then, as a married grown-up, it was fun to do cute little romantic things like have a picnic dinner in the living room or a hike in a pretty spot and give each other corny cards. (We always thought it was too mundane to go out to dinner at a nice restaurant just because everyone else was.) Whatever we did, it was always fun and romantic.

    And then we had kids.

    When they were babies and toddlers, it was just nuts and I don’t even remember what we did for Valentine’s Day. It got worse as soon as the twins hit school age.

    That’s when Valentine’s Day became a job. There were cards to write for the entire class (times two), class parties to plan and help out at, cutesy breakfasts to make, little treats to tuck in school lunches and special dinners to prepare.

    I remember when the twins were in kindergarten, we took a 10-day trip to Walt Disney World at the end of January. Knowing it would be Valentine’s Day when we got back, I had them work on their Valentines on the plane on the way there. All the flight attendants were so impressed, and kept coming by to comment on how cute the girls were, and what a great mom I was for having them work on them so early.

    I was pretty impressed with myself, too, having packed the class list, the two sets of cards, the pencils, stickers, etc.

    I don’t know what happened to that mom.

    Fast forward to seven years of Valentine’s Days later, with our third daughter now in kindergarten, and all I can say after this Valentine’s Day is:

    I suck.

    Maybe it’s the fact that Little Miss is the second go-around for me, or maybe it’s just that life has become too busy, but that mom on the plane who had it all together? She must’ve taken a solo vacation this year, ’cause she was nowhere to be found this year.

    Several weeks prior to the holiday this year, Little Miss’s teacher sent home a note instructing parents to help their child make a mailbox out of shoebox, and to not write individual names on the Valentines, so as to make delivery easier and more efficient during the class party.

    Knowing how difficult it is to prod a 5-year-old to write 26 Valentines, I intended to get an early start, buying the Valentines a full three weeks ahead of time.

    That doesn’t mean we wrote them out that early.

    No, we waited until the weekend before, during which there was a birthday party, double-header basketball games, grocery shopping and a bunch of other weekend tasks thrown in. By Sunday night, Mommy lost all her patience after the 149th time of telling Little Miss to stay at the table until all the Valentines were written. Plus, Little Miss liked the ones she picked so much that she wrote out six for herself, which meant now she didn’t have enough for everyone in the class so she had to borrow some from her sisters, but then we discovered those had Bible verses on them and because you never know if that will offend somebody these days, I had to run out to CVS to buy another box. (I would’ve let it go, but I had to run out anyway because we were out of Scotch tape, which we needed to tape the Valentine pencils and lollipops to the card.)

    Earlier in the week, Twin B helped Little Miss decorate her shoebox. The first-time mom of seven years ago might have looked in dismay at the crooked patches of pink construction paper, bubbled up from way too much glue, and the “Happy Birthday!” stickers and hand-drawn peace symbols on top of the box. But the practical mom who’s been there, done that, cringed just a little and thought, “Well it’s just going to get thrown away anyway, what’s the difference?”

    When I walked her into the classroom the next morning to help her carry in her box and Valentines, I saw the difference.

    The back table was already filled with boxes that I might buy at a fine stationery boutique if I ever had a need for such a box. There was the large round hatbox adorned with Marabou feathers and pink glitter, another box had the child’s name spelled out using cutout letters each mounted on a stick, another was covered in a scrapbook layout of photos of the child. And here was “ours:”



    Already feeling bad for my numerous “FOR THE LAST TIME, CAN WE PLEASE FINISH THESE VALENTINES BEFORE I REALLY FREAK OUT” outbursts, I felt even worse walking back to the car. “At least I put red bows in her hair today,” I thought to myself.

    I came home and told the Mr., describing in detail all the fancy boxes, and all the presents piling up on the teacher’s desk. (We gave her a giant Hershey’s kiss that said #1 Teacher, which I thought was nice until I saw the elaborately wrapped gifts, flowers, plants and chocolate-covered strawberries other kids were bringing in.)

    “So what?” said the Mr., who incidentally, had taken the day off to spend with me only to find out that I had to volunteer later that day at the class party. “There’s no value in that! Do you really wish you would’ve spent hours putting feathers and glitter and crap on a box, just so she can bring it home and throw it away?”

    Well, yes, I kind of do.

    I sulked about it for a while, vowing to do better next year. Later, we went back to the classroom for the party, where the teacher got annoyed because the other room moms and I didn’t know how to make a bouquet out of the pile of paper hearts, pipe cleaners, doilies and tissue paper she left out for us while she was in a meeting.

    Even my rocket scientist hubby–who came to the party, because, well, we were spending Valentine’s Day together— couldn’t figure it out, so there. Sheesh.

    The party was chaotic and stressful, the kids were all wound up and sugared up, and we were glad when it was over.


    Just as the bell was about to ring, and the kids were all lined up at the door holding their fancy mailboxes stuffed with Valentines, I noticed something in Little Miss’s cubby: The gallon-sized Ziploc bag full of all of her Valentines carefully taped to the pencils and lollipops sitting there, just the way I left it in the morning. They never got passed out. I wanted to cry. No, I did cry. In a mad scramble, we started handing them out to kids as they were filing out the door, stuffing them in as many hands, backpacks and boxes as we could. Some kids got two or three, some kids got none at all.

    All that prodding, all that erasing, all that taping, all that yelling. All for nothing.

    But then after we got home and I was emptying her backpack, I saw a pink foam heart stuck to a pink lace doily  peeking out of her folder.

    “Aww, did you make me a special Valentine?” I asked Little Miss. But then I turned it over:


    “I love you Cheerio!” it said in her kindergarten scrawl. Yup, it was for the dog.

    The dog—who, in the chaos of everyone coming home and sorting through all their cards and candy—somehow got a hold of the paper heart bouquet that Little Miss made. The complicated craft that we room moms apparently couldn’t figure out was now a pile of soggy, shredded tissue paper lying in the middle of the living room floor.

    I found this hilarious.

    Wanting to salvage what was left of our day, the Mr. suggested we all go on a long bike ride in the desert. I ran into a cactus and got a roofing-nail-sized thorn embedded into my thigh, but that bike ride turned out to be the highlight of my Valentine’s Day.

    When we got home, the Mr. threw some lovely tenderloin steaks on the grill, and by total accident, one of them came out into the perfect shape of a heart, which we enjoyed by candlelight as a family. So it turned out to be a pretty nice Valentine’s Day night.




    I got a bad stomachache from the rich meal, after spending all week eating only salads, turkey and fruit. But it didn’t end there.

    When I put the load of laundry I had just washed into the dryer, I discovered that I had washed the Mr.’s cellphone that must’ve been in his shorts pocket from the bike ride. It’s been nothing but a dead black screen ever since.

    And that was my crappy Valentine’s Day. If anyone sees that mom on the plane patiently helping her daughters make their Valentines, please tell her to get her sorry butt back home. Her family needs her.

  2. “Not the really bad ‘S’ word”

    February 18, 2011 by Wendy


    Last week, Little Miss’s kindergarten class celebrated Arizona’s birthday. All the children were to dress up in their finest Western wear (because that’s how we all dress here in Aree-zona). We dug out some old boots from when the twins took horseback riding lessons, picked out her most Westernish dress and found a safari hat we got at Disney World that Poppy fashioned into a cowboy hat by curling and tying up the brim overnight. A little ghetto, but it worked.

    I don’t know if it was the outfit or what, but later that evening, Little Miss casually mentioned to one of her sisters that “Today, Peter called me and another girl the ‘S’ word, but not the really bad ‘S’ word,” she said, all wide-eyed and reassuringly. (The “really bad ‘S’ word” is stupid.)

    “Well what word did he say?” her sister asked. (This is the same boy she had a crush on in the beginning of the year, but she has moved on and there have been two others since.)

    “The ”S” word that all the singers say, like Ke$ha. Ke$ha says it all the time.” (This is what happens when you have a 5-year-old with middle-school sisters—forget cutesy sing-along songs; she listens to their music.)

    And then she spelled it out for us: “You know, S-E-K-S-I.”

    Ohhhh, that “S” word.

    I think I would’ve rather he called her S-T-U-P-I-D.

    Why in the world is a 5-year-old boy is saying this, and how in the world does my 5-year-old know it was kind of a not-so-nice thing to say? (Unless you’re my age, of course, then, bring it on!)

    The next day, I repeated the conversation to the teacher. She didn’t get it when I spelled it the same way Little Miss did. So I had to say it: “SEXY. He said she was SEXY.”

    “Ohhhhhhh,” she said. And then her expression changed from confusion to horror. And then she said something only a teacher would say:

    “Well at least she spelled it correctly phonetically, I guess I can be happy about that!”

    Yes, me, too.  Her father and I are thrilled.

  3. Kindergarten Crush

    September 15, 2010 by Wendy


    Well, it’s been over a month now since the Little Miss has begun her school journey and all I can say is this: She is in love. Like, really in love. With a boy.

    The object of her affection is a cute little red-haired boy named Peter, and I’m pretty sure it was love at first sight. At least we started hearing about him from Day One.

    “He has these orange eyebrows and they’re just so, so cute!” she’d say. Or, “Peter is just sooooo funny!” Or, “Guess what Peter did today!”

    Whenever somebody asks her how school is going, she’ll tell them about Peter.

    “I’m so, so totally in love with him,” she’ll say emphatically.

    Every day when I pick her up, anticipating stories of what she learned or what she did, I’ll hear stories about Peter instead. How funny he is, what he said, what he did, how he chased the girls on the playground.

    From the beginning, I really wasn’t getting a picture of what was going on day-to-day in the classroom. Other than what Peter was doing, of course. I knew that Peter used the blue scissors one day to cut out his triangles. (OK, so they’re cutting shapes.) I knew that he told a funny joke in Spanish class. (“Oh, you went to Spanish today?”)

    I figured I’d have a better idea of her day after attending the school’s Curriculum Night, which is when the parents go to the classroom and listen to the teacher talk about classroom expectations and what lies ahead.

    So there we were a few days later, squished in the kindergarten-size chairs, listening to the teacher talk about the daily schedule, how bright all the children are, how she can barely keep up with the speed at which they want to learn, etc. Then she started talking about how all the children have been bringing in so many interesting shapes from home, and I’m all, huh? The Little Stinker Miss never told us she was supposed to do that! She went on to say that one boy even brought in an article from Architectural Digest that showed the most interesting shapes!

    OK, that’s it. I felt like the biggest slacker, and we are not slacker parents.

    I nudged Hubby, and whispered, “She didn’t tell us she was supposed to do that! But we sure do know all about Peter!” Of course, I said this quietly, seeing as Peter’s mom was sitting across the tiny table from us.

    I am and always have been a school-rule follower, an extra-credit doer even when I have an A+ in the class, and well, yes, I sort of expect my kids to be kind of the same. So if they were told to bring in shapes from home, well by golly, we’re going on a hunt for the coolest, most obscure shapes and they’ll be in the backpack before night’s end.

    But no, she didn’t say a word about it.

    Oh, we’re so going to have a talk when we get home.

    Sitting in that classroom, I felt like we were in the middle of an Everybody Loves Raymond episode. I never really watched that show, but the few times I did, it always seemed to showcase them failing as parents. And there we were. Failing as parents.

    All because of Peter.

    In fact, I almost raised my hand and said, “Um, we didn’t know anything about this. Was there something sent home about this?”

    Except I had already raised my hand about 26 times to ask questions, undoubtedly earning the title of That Annoying Mom. I wasn’t about to become That Clueless Annoying Mom, too.

    As soon as we got home, I asked Little Miss if she was supposed to bring in some shapes from home.

    “No,” she said. And then a few seconds later: “Did you tell Peter’s mom that he’s the cutest boy in the class?”

    “No, of course not!” I said.

    And she was disappointed! “Awwww, why not?” she said.

    We went through this same thing with Twin B when she was this age, with yet another redhead, only his name was Reed. While doing a deep clean of her room recently, we unearthed a note that had the words, “I ♥ REEB” scrawled across it in her backwards kindergarten writing. Today’s seventh-grade version of her just slapped her forehead with embarrassment and crumpled it up. That should be reassurance to me that Little Miss, too, will get over this crush in time and focus more on her kindergarten studies.

    And while I don’t want to encourage this infatuation, I also don’t want to tell her to “not like” someone. After all, she sees something in this boy and it’s kind of sweet. Curious if this crush was two-sided, I asked her one day, “Does Peter seem to like you as much as you like him?”

    “Well, when I hug him, he says, ‘Stop that!’ and runs away,” she says with a laugh. “But then Clara tells me to keep doing it anyway so I do! He doesn’t like when I hug him at all!”

    Mmm hmm. Ya think?

    That prompted a little talk about respecting people’s personal space, and that if he doesn’t want her to touch him or hug him, she shouldn’t. (Wait, as a mother of three daughters, shouldn’t I be having this talk the other way around?)

    “But his hair is just so cute, I can’t help touching it. Can’t I rub his head?” she asked.

    She told me that during story time on the carpet, she likes to sit by him and then demonstrated how she scoots her head under his face so that she could look up at his “cute, cute eyes.”

    Oh, my. I’m waiting any day for a phone call or email from the teacher saying that this has become a problem.

    Last night as I was giving her a bath, we had an interesting little conversation.

    “Tomorrow for school, will you do my hair in a bun, but not all the way up, like Belle’s?” she asked me as I washed her hair.

    “OK,” I said, thinking the hairstyle idea must’ve been inspired by the tea party we’d just had with all her Disney Princess dolls.

    “Because then I think Peter might say I look cute!” she said, with that adorable chubby-cheeked smile and giggle she gets when she, well, talks about Peter.

    Oh man, is she setting herself up for a day of disappointment, is what I’m thinking.

    “I will do your hair like that, but don’t be surprised if Peter doesn’t say anything because boys don’t really notice those things,” I said.


    “They just don’t,” I said.

    Keep in mind, this is about 8:30 p.m., the time when moms are just sooooo tired and just trying to get through the nightly duties.

    “But why?” she persisted.

    “Because boys are just different. They don’t notice those things, and if they do, they don’t always say so, now come on let’s get out and get dried off and put your pajamas on and brush your teeth and pick your story so you can go to bed.”

    There. No room for questions.


    “When we have a wedding, we’re gonna hug and kiss, right?”

    Now it was my turn for the questions.

    “When who has a wedding?” I said, blowing right past the hugging and kissing part.

    “Me and Peter,” she said.

    “Peter and I,” I corrected. “Wait, now you’re going to marry him? We’re talking about a wedding?”

    “Yeah,” she says, with the Peter smile. “But I don’t think he’s gonna be too happy about that.”

    “Why not?” I ask, wondering if maybe, just maybe she picked up on his nonverbal communication cues that I picked up on when I visited her at lunch one day. As in, he shirked away from her as she attempted to reach for him. And then the shirking turned to running. Away. Fast.

    “Because he doesn’t like hugging,” she said. “And I don’t think he’ll like kissing at all. I think he’ll run away as fast as he can,” she said with a laugh.

    The  girl is 5, and yet she could be writing articles about committment-fearing men for Cosmo.

    Last Friday, I went through her school folder and found a blank white envelope. It was an invitation to Peter’s birthday party, obviously handed out to the whole class.

    “Oh, you got a birthday party invitation to Peter’s party,” I said.

    “Whaat??” she shriek-inhaled, then ran squealing through the house as if I just told her Justin Bieber was at our front door. (Yes, unfortunately, she has a little crush on him, too. Who is this child?)

    Immediately, she began working on a card for him. The party was weeks away and no one even said she was going but that boy was getting a card from her.

    She gave it to him on Monday, after which he said, “Is that for me?” and then turned to his friend and said matter-of-factly, “She’s in love with me! I really think she is!”

    She thought that was hilarious and repeated the story several times that evening.

    Recently in the middle of the night, I heard her calling out to me that she had to go to the bathroom. Blearily, I stumbled to her room to assist her. As she stood there washing her hands, she chatted on loudly, as if it were 1:30 in the afternoon instead of the morning, like it was.

    “When I get home from school tomorrow, I’m going to make Peter a picture with Legos and crayons!” she said cheerily.

    “OK,” I said, trying to mentally process Legos and crayons, Legos and crayons? Huh? Is she making him something with Legos? Or with crayons? Is she making Legos out of crayons? Or crayons out of Legos? Oh, forget it, it’s too late for this.

    But sure enough, on the way home, she said, “As soon as I get home, I’m going to change out of my uniform because my rump always feels hot in it, then I’m going to wash my hands, get a drink, and make Peter a picture of Legos with crayons.”

    Oh, so I wasn’t dreaming. Here’s what she drew:


    That’s Little Miss, lounging atop the Legos, and that’s Peter on the right in his red uniform shirt, and then there’s a mouse.

    While she was drawing it, more details of her day began to emerge, which is what usually happens.

    “Hannah and I got into an argument at lunch today,” she said.

    “Why did you argue?” I asked.

    “Because she said that she was going to marry Peter and I said that I was going to marry him!”

    Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me. Now we’re fighting with our girlfriends over this boy? Sheesh, when they say kids are growing up too fast, they’re not kidding!

    “You and Hannah are going to change your minds about a thousand times on that in your lifetime so don’t even worry about,” I said. “Besides, Peter might not even want to marry either one of you!”

    Without skipping a beat, Little Miss said, “Yeah, he might want to just marry his self! He might want to just hug his self and kiss his self!”

    Wow, this girl’s got it all figured out already. Forget phonics and shape cutting! She’s got an article to write for Cosmo right now. Better yet, I hear Oprah is leaving…

  4. First Day of Kindergarten

    August 10, 2010 by Wendy

    first day

    So, we survived the first day of kindergarten! (I say “we” but really mean “I,” since it was, as expected, more traumatic for me than for Little Miss.)

    I have been dreading this day for five years. Really, five years. I knew from experience how quickly my time with her would fly, and I held on to each day we had together as tightly as I could until the inevitable school years snatched her away.

    I knew the day would be hard. I knew it because, well, I’m a mom, and because I’d been through it years before with my older girls. I still go through it, every year on the first day of school.

    Last spring, the school had a “kindergarten buddy day,” in which incoming kindergarteners visit the classroom of outgoing kindergarteners, while the parents go to the library and listen to the principal talk about all the things to come. That was the day when the lump in my throat began forming, and as I watched a boy take her hand and lead her away from me and toward the classroom, that lump evolved into full-on tears, causing the other parents to glance at me uncomfortably. After all, it was only a half-hour, and we had four months before the real day came.

    Still, I barely got through that 30 minutes, which is why I knew the first day of real school would be so, so hard, and which is why it put a huge damper on my summer that even a week on the beach couldn’t lighten.

    Thankfully, Little Miss didn’t pick up on any of that, and has been beyond excited to begin this new chapter of her life.

    Over the weekend, we bought her an alarm clock of her very own, and she was so excited to wake up to it on Sunday morning at 7:45. (This, from a girl who’s been luxuriously sleeping in until around 10 all summer instead of getting dragged out of bed every morning to accompany me on the drive to her older sisters’ school.)

    When the “night before” finally arrived, she was bathed and brushed and in bed by 8:30, with her alarm set, uniform laid out and a pile of school-themed books picked out as bedtime stories. Of course, we read The Kissing Hand, and I almost made it to the “I love you” without crying. Her sisters and I put kisses in her hands, and she gave us some of her own. Poppy presented her with her very first Twist-Erase mechanical pencil, a requirement for all students in this household. (Remember, Poppy is an engineer, and is highly OCD about mechanical pencils. I can’t stand them. Mechanical pencils, that is.)




    kissing hand


    She had a hard time falling asleep, despite having gotten up early and despite having swum all day at her grandparents’ house. I had an even harder time of it, and literally watched the clock change hour by hour, until finally 7 a.m. came and there was no more postponing it.

    The day had come.

    Why did this have to go so fast? Why does this have to be so hard for us moms? I know it’s hard for dads, too, but I think it’s a different kind of sadness. For them, it’s hard watching their kids grow older, which means they’re growing older, too. For me, that’s a component as well, but it’s more about letting go of and missing this little person that’s been attached to me, day after day, all day long for five whole years.

    Her teacher understands this apparently, as when we met her on Open House night a few days before school was to start, she looked at my teary eyes and handed me an envelope that said “Open at 9 a.m. Monday morning.” Sensing it was probably something that was going to make me even sadder, I decided not to wait and opened it right away when we got home that night. I’m glad I did that.

    Inside was a tissue, a cotton ball, an herbal tea bag and a poem that put the tissue to good use. Here’s what it said:

    The First Day of Kindergarten

    I know it was hard for you to leave today
    And know your child must stay.
    You have been with her for five years now
    And have been a loving guide,
    But now alas, the time has come
    To leave her at my side.
    Just know that as you drive away
    And tears down your cheek may flow
    I’ll love her as I would my own
    And help her learn and grow.
    For as a parent, I too know
    How quickly the years do pass
    Not so long ago, it was my turn
    to take my children to class.
    So please put your mind at ease
    And cry those tears no more
    For I will love her and take her in
    When you leave my door.

    And beneath that, she wrote, “Thank you for entrusting your child to me. I will try to do my very best to be your child’s guide in learning and exploring this bright new experience in Kindergarten. Enjoy the nice cup of tea. Put up your feet and relax. Then hold the cotton ball in your hand. The softness will help you recall the spirit of your child.”

    Of course, the floodgates burst, right there on the kitchen rug. Twin B came to comfort me, and I handed her the poem. She read it and shed a tear or two of her own, passed it on to her sister to read, who tearfully passed it on to her father, who got a bit misty himself. Luckily, Little Miss was oblivious to all of this, happily chattering about her new school, without a worry in the world. I’m so grateful for that. I will take care of all the worrying and nervousness. And I do a great job of it, too.

    I worry that she’ll get hurt or sick at school, or that she’ll get her feelings hurt, or that she’ll feel awkward or lonely on the playground, or that she’ll feel uncomfortable about using the school bathroom. I worry that she won’t be able to poke her straw through her juice box, or open her string cheese by herself at lunch.

    She is the baby of the family, and as such, always has four of us looking out for her, doing things for her, telling her what to do or what not to do. And yet, this child is extraordinarily independent. She loves nothing more than to shut her bedroom door and play with her dolls, talk to her Disney Princesses and Polly Pockets, listen to music, read a book or color.

    So I knew she’d be fine after we said goodbye on that first day. In fact, when we discussed it earlier, she said, “How about if you just say goodbye at the door and then leave, OK? But make it a quick goodbye because I don’t want to be late.”

    And that’s pretty much what we did. All four of us. Poppy took the day off for the occasion, and we all walked her to her classroom, the very same classroom that we had tearfully dropped her older sisters off seven years ago. I was stronger than I thought I’d be, even with the flood of those memories coming back.

    It wasn’t until the first bell rang and all the kids  lined up with their giant backpacks on their tiny backs that I started to cry. Our Little Miss just looked so tiny standing there, even tinier than the rest of the tiny ones. When the second bell rang, she jumped out of line and ran to her father, cheerfully saying, “Bye, Poppy! I love you!” Because of the throng of paparazzi parents shouting and waving to their kids, I could only reach her hand. I gave it a squeeze and said, “Have a good day, sweetie!” And then we watched her go in. And I cried. Like, almost the ugly cry. A mom next to me looked at me and sympathetically said, “Oh, it’s OK!” and patted my arm. This poor mom, probably sad herself and comforting her own child, now has to worry about comforting me? I was so choked up, I couldn’t even respond to her. I hope she doesn’t think I’m rude.


    bye poppy


    As the four of us walked back to the car in the searing heat, it felt so strange. Someone was definitely missing. That feeling got even stronger when I glanced at her empty booster seat when we got into the car.

    After we got home, we all got busy. Poppy made espresso, the twins got busy making the homemade pink cupcakes they’d been planning to make Little Miss for an after-school surprise, and I wrote this blog post, while my eyes got some kind of repetitive-motion injury from looking at the clock so many times.

    Because Little Miss turned five only a week ago, and because she had never been in a preschool setting, and because I think a six-and-a-half-hour day is ridiculously long for a little person like herself, I’ve opted to pick her up early after lunch for now. Of all three kindergarten classes, there’s only one other mom doing this that I know of. (I was really pulling for the half-day kindergarten measure to pass in our district but I won’t get political here.) The school is supportive but I think not thrilled about this, and I know neither will Little Miss be, once she finds out what she’s missing: free choice, buddy reading, specials (art, music, P.E., Spanish), and naptime, in which they all rest on beach towels on the icky floor. (Poppy calls this “Lice Time.”)

    We’re taking it day by day but my guess is she’ll be going full-time sooner than I wanted.

    We arrived after lunch to pick her up. Shortly after I signed her out, she burst through the office door, holding her teacher’s hand and said, “I met a girl and I asked her to play Tag and she said, ‘No, let’s play Hide ‘N’ Seek instead!’ so I did!” We don’t know this girl’s name, but Poppy branded her Miss Bossy for the remainder of the day.

    I looked at her peanut-butter-and-jelly-streaked face and her sweaty, disheveled pigtails and saw the same pure joy and excitement that I saw in her sisters’ faces every time they came home from school in those days. (Middle school is a little different. Unfortunately.)

    She had a great day.

    end of day


    Of course, we all bombarded her with questions that she couldn’t keep up with, and when we got to the car, I said to everyone, “You guys, one at a time, let’s not bombard her with questions; let’s let her tell us about her day as she feels like it.”

    Me, two seconds later: “Did you eat all your lunch? Were you able to open your drink and your string cheese? Did you have snack time? Did you use the bathroom? Did you wash your hands before lunch? Who did you play with?”

    Immediately upon coming home, she went to the bathroom (no, she didn’t go at school) and wanted to take a shower. Then her sisters surprised her with the pink cupcakes, inspired by her current favorite book, Pinkalicious. (Thank you, Kennah!)

    Bit by bit over the next several hours, we got more information from her about her day, especially when grandparents and aunts called to see how her day went. We learned that:
    • She dropped her granola bar at snacktime and was starving by lunchtime.
    • She dropped her string cheese somewhere and didn’t eat it “cuz it touched the dirty floor,” even though it was still in the package when it was dropped.
    • Someone named “Crab Box” helped her open her drink and read her the note I put in her lunch box.
    • A boy hit his head on the playground.
    • A girl in her class had really fancy shoes on.
    • A boy tried to sit in the teacher’s chair before storytime.
    • She got to help do the calendar with a zebra pointer.
    • A girl asked her what kind of berries the champagne grapes she was eating were.
    • Her teacher read The Kissing Hand to the class.
    • They made raccoon masks.
    • A girl at her table has really red eyes, “not pretty red, like a crayon, but red, like she cries all day.” (She whispered this part in my ear.)

    When bedtime finally came, she was so wound up and excited and could not stop talking. But for me, that was relaxing. It reassured me that she did not get sick or hurt at school, nobody hurt her feelings, she didn’t feel lonely or sad and she had help at lunchtime.

    It was a good day.

    Like Mrs. Raccoon says to her little Chester in The Kissing Hand, “Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do,” she told him gently. “Even if they seem strange and scary at first. But you will love school once you start.”

    And I know I will, too.


  5. Letting Go of My Little Larva

    July 9, 2010 by Wendy

    Earlier this year, when winter turned into spring, I decided to give Little Miss a lesson on life cycles.

    You see, instead of sending her to preschool at age 3 and 4, I had kept her home, where I taught her the early stages of the three R’s, plus things like life cycles and a whole lot more. (I think, anyway. We’ll see when she gets tested in the fall.) The reasons for keeping her home were many, but the main one was, I admit, purely selfish. As my last baby, I wanted to keep her home with me as long as possible. Having seen her older sisters sail at supersonic speed from kindergarten to middle school, I am all too aware of how fast it goes. And I am all too aware of the feeling that once they start school, you lose a huge part of them as they’re sucked into schedules, routines, homework, projects, contagious viruses, a whole new social group—all of which are pretty much out of your control.

    I will be losing my Little Miss exactly one month from today to the public education system.

    My mother-in-law once told me that you start letting go of them a little each day from the minute they’re born. (This from a woman whose two out of three grown children live within 20 minutes of her, but whatever.) That was hard to imagine back in the days when I was their only source of nutrition for the first six months of their lives, and then as their only “beverage” for another year beyond that. That didn’t feel much like I was “letting go,” especially when it was two at a time.

    I miss those days.

    But that’s just the way it goes. It’s the circle of life. (Go ahead, sing The Lion King theme song here if you must.)

    Oh, yes, back to teaching the life cycle. So I ordered one of those butterfly kits and a frog habitat, in which you have to send away for the larvae and the tadpoles. While we waited for our “babies” to arrive, we went to the library and got lots of books on life cycles, butterflies and tadpoles.

    A couple weeks later, our “babies” all arrived on the same day in our mailbox: two tadpoles and six butterfly larvae. The tadpoles were easy. They just needed to put in some spring water, fed every other day and observed for signs of changing into frogs. The butterfly larvae were even easier. They just hung upside down in the little cup for about two weeks, each one slowly forming into a chrysalis. At that point, we observed more closely and actually got to witness four of the six emerge from their cocoons and unroll themselves into butterflies. As soon as they’re “born,” you feed them some orange slices and sugar water for a few days.

    And then you let them go.

    And it is beyond sad as you watch your child say goodbye to their beautiful Monarch friends, and you explain over and over why they have to be let go. And then you wonder why you ever did this project when it brings so much pain, especially when you’ve done it before with older children and heard the same wails and saw the same agonizing tears.

    This is what it looked like, from the beginning to the end:








    kiss goodbye


    getting ready

    getting ready2




    So by now, you must see where I’m going with this post. Yep, the old butterfly-gets-its-wings metaphor.

    In college, for an English class assignment, I wrote an allegorical poem about leaving home, and I used a butterfly as a metaphor. My professor wrote “Cliche!” and “Overused!” in big fat red ink all over it. Gah! I cringe when I think of that awful poem. At the time, I was offended, but oh, how right he was. How could I have not seen that back then? Did I really think that was a good poem? And here I am again with the butterfly metaphor. But I don’t care. No one’s grading this, and right now, with my Little Miss one month away from starting kindergarten, it couldn’t be more appropriate.

    How did this happen so quickly? Please excuse the use of yet another cliche, but it literally seems like I just had her. I can picture myself lying in that hospital bed, doing that final push despite my case of sudden-onset reflux. And then the doctor held her up and I saw her little girl parts and I realized then that despite the fact that I’d been saying I didn’t care what we were having, that I really, really did want another daughter.

    And she was perfect. Her proud father kept saying her head was shaped like a trapezoid, but I never saw that. Not even in pictures to this day. In fact, she came out so clean, so pink, so chubby, and just so everything a baby should be. And I loved her immediately and deeply.

    We got home from the hospital and settled into our easy, snuggly routine. And then I blinked my eyes and it was time for her to start kindergarten. Yes, really, just like that.

    That’s how fast these almost-five years have gone. (She turns 5 exactly one week before the first day of school.)

    Of course, I’ve been through this before, with the twins. And yes, that was doubly painful. But kindergarten was only half-days back then, so it was a teensy bit easier. It was when they started full-time 1st grade that I really had my breakdown. But being pregnant with another little one at the time made it a bit easier, and I started to enjoy my “me” time that year, knowing it would be my last for a while.

    But this time, it’s different. I knew all along how fast it was going to go, which is why I tried to make the most of each day we had together, and why I kept her home with me. But just because you realize it, doesn’t mean time slows down. I wish it worked that way.

    And by the way, those two tadpoles I mentioned we sent away for in February? They were supposed to turn into frogs in two weeks. It is now almost six months later and they’re still tadpoles. One of them hasn’t grown a bit, and neither are even close to losing their tails or growing legs. I even emailed the company to find out what’s the deal.

    If only our children could be more like the tadpoles.

    When I think about how fast my girls have grown and are growing, I get like a hot flash, a lump in my throat and a stabbing pain in the gut, especially when I realize that with the twins turning 12 later this month and starting 7th grade in the fall, it means they’re only going to be home with us for another six years before they go off to college.

    Go away, lump, hot flash and stabbing pain, go away!

    I get that same hot flashy, lumpy, stabbing-pain-in-the-gut feeling when I imagine the first day of kindergarten one month from today. I’m dreading it more than anyone could know. I’m dreading it as much as I’m already dreading the walk back to the car after we leave her older sisters in their dorm rooms at college.

    But I can’t go there right now. That’s an entirely different post. Heck, that’s an entirely different blog.

    If you look at those last few pictures of Little Miss after having kissed her butterflies goodbye and letting them go, you’ll get an idea of what I will be looking like at 9 a.m. one month from today. And the day after that. And probably the day after that. And then, after a few more days like that, I’m sure I will enjoy the few hours I’ll have to myself to “get my groove back.” I’m looking forward to the day when I look at the clock and go, “Oh, man, it’s time to pick them up already?”

    But until then, I’m holding on to my little larvae.

    P.S. If by some chance a bald and probably retired college professor who looks like Paul Shaffer happens upon this blog, please refrain from writing “Cliche!” or “Overused!” in the comment box. I already know it is and I don’t care.