Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First day of school fail

Well, we did it.  We enrolled Jack in preschool.  Weeks after submitting the paperwork and paying the deposit I'm still having doubts.  I never meant to put my kids in school this early.  Then again, I never meant to have 3 kids under 3.  I just hate the idea of sending him out into the world on his own, I much prefer to keep him by my side for a few more years and under my influence.  And I hate that I'm paying money for someone else to teach my son stuff that I actually know.  I mean Trigonometry is one thing, but the alphabet?  I think I could swing that.  But alas, the mama with a M.Ed. degree is relying on some Miss Maddy to handle her child's education. 

So why are we doing it?  Well, I could use the lighter load three mornings a week for one.  I'll admit it, I'm overwhelmed these days.  Trying to keep up with my job, housework, a boisterous almost 3-year-old and his growingly active/curious/testing-his-limits 16 month old brother, all with a big belly and a baby due in just a few weeks.  I'm coming to terms with the fact that I can't do it all.  Something's got to give.  No, many things have got to give.  And I also am learning that Jack is not like me.  We have very different personalities.  While I am more than content being a homebody - finding a quiet nook to read a good book, putsing around the kitchen with a new recipe, testing out another project on the sewing machine - my son wants to see the world.  He wants to make friends and learn new things.  He wants to test out his new sneakers on a new playground, master every puzzle he can get his hands on, learn how to play tag and count to 10 in the right order.  He's craving a new adventure.  And with sister on the way, I figure preschool is the best we can do right now.

So I'm stuggling.  But I'll go with the flow and play the part of excited mom.  Because honestly, I'm a little of that too.  So Sunday night I brought up school (for the first time since we've learned not to announce things too early).  We emptied the legos out of his Thomas the Train backpack and filled it up with essentials (in this case, a change of clothes and a few spare pairs of underwear).  I laid out his "first day of school" outfit.  We prayed for Jack's big morning before going to bed that night and talked about all the new friends he was going to make.


And then I made sure I was up extra early the next morning to make homemade apple/oat muffins and smoothies.  I wanted Jack to be fully-charged for his big day.  He remembered as soon as he got up and couldn't wait to put on his school shirt.  And his sneakers.  And we took pictures, and I got properly stern when I realized we were running behind schedule.  And then Jude had a blow-out and that really set us back.  But somehow we managed to get in the car and pulled into the church's parking lot with not a minute to spare.


And then I realized the parking lot was a bit too quiet and empty for a preschool.  And then I saw the little white sign on the door announcing that school was closed since the County district was closed.  Oh. Snap.


How do you explain to a not-quite-3-year-old that it was all just a game?  How do you help him understand that yes, 30 seconds ago you were going to school to make friends but now, well now we're just going to go home instead?  Not a good mom moment.  I checked the school website the day before but it was down, and I meant to check it again before I left, but forgot.  I had no idea that several areas of our county were still without power or that so many roads were closed.  I was just trying to get my preschooler ready for his big day. 

Pulling out of the parking lot, I struggled for a good recovery act.  My office was closed for the day, so techincally I had the morning wide-open (other than all the things I was planning on accomplishing with only one child under-wing that a.m.).  So I quickly suggested the park.  That brought cheers from the backseat and off we went in search of some swings and slides.

Am I the only mom that gets extremely nervous at public playgrounds?  As in, I get contractions just thinking about it.  Because no matter how hard I'm trying to keep track of Jack, no matter how the amount of times we've rehearsed "Be nice to others" on the way there, no matter how old or young the other kids around are ... there's always an incident and Jack's usually invovled.  We've got a great playground in our backyard, and Jack has a cutie little playmate named Jude and that suits me just fine.  So I tend to avoid public playgrounds like the plague these days.  But today was special, I had to make it up to the little guy.

And when Jack got a little too excited around a much younger girl and almost knocked her over while trying to get to the slide, and when the little girl's grandma assured me it was no big deal - "She's tough," I cringed on the inside.  It's always the ones that say 'it's okay ... she's used to it" that end up giving me the look 5 minutes later and leaving the park early.

And so of course, within 10 minutes Jack accidentally stepped on the poor little girl's hand while trying to climb the ladder to the slide.  And of course the wee thing was hysterical and grandma could not calm her down.  And of course I had to go through the whole, "I'm so sorry" and make Jack say he's sorry but don't give her a hug because that will just scare her more ...  And then I feel like I need to punish my child to make the other parent understand that I truly am sorry, but really, it was an accident.  Babies that are too young to climb slide stairs shouldn't not be hanging out on them.  I digress.

So that clan left early and Jack was left with the kids in bike helmets.  Who were really fun.  Too bad their mom kept yelling at them for every.little.thing.  "Aiden, stop jumping on the stairs." "Aiden, no hitting." (They were playing tag for heaven's sake!) "Aiden, don't let other kids treat you that way." "Aiden, don't step on the mulch."  "Aiden, don't have any fun, just sit here next to me for 5 minutes."  *sigh*  Poor Jack was so cofused.  Just when he and his new buddy were having fun, new buddy's mom had to go and ruin it.  And from my perspective, it's such an awkward mommy situation.  If "the other mom" scolds her child for walking up the slide backwards, does that mean I have to say the same thing to Jack?  (Seriously, I have so many other balls in the air with this child, walking up the slide just isn't on my radar.)  So here I am, trying to keep up with "other mom's" lectures while also making sure my younger son isn't walking in front of a swinging child or attempting to go down the slide by himself...

Eventually poor Aiden had his last time out and that group headed for home.  And right about that time two much bigger kids arrived.  Now normally I'm relieved with older kids.  Jack seems to do better with them, and I don't have to worry about him trying to be the dominant one.  But these kids were on roller skates.  Yup, their mama was sitting right there, letting them cruise *uncontrollably* around the playground and slide, on roller skates.  With little babies around.  Commence more contractions.  But Jack was thoroughly enjoying watching them skate down the slide.  His laughter set me at ease and I was able to relax a little and actually pay Jude some attention. 

But then "older kid on skates" slipped (gosh, really, how does that happen??) at the top of the playset and got his legs all twisted and couldn't get up.  And apparently Jack stepped on him at this point.  And "older kid on skates" had a major meltdown.  I'm guessing this boy was around 8.  He had many, many years on Jack.  But it just so happens, my toddler got the best of him.  And I'll confess here, I didn't even make Jack apologize.  I didn't see what happened, and "kid on skates" had already put both of my boys' lives in danger on several occasions prior.  At that point, I was just ready to get out of there.  Jack and Jude were not of the same mind.

Silly me, I thought that being 8 months pregnant and carrying two kicking, screaming boys out of the park to the car was going to be the lowest point of my day.  Oh no, apparently I still had to look forward to:
  • Jack refusing to get out of the car once we were home
  • Jude throwing my favorite mug (a wedding gift from friends in England) on the floor and watching it shatter
  • Jude dumping the box of macaroni all over the kitchen (twice)
  • Jude pulling the carton of eggs off the counter
  • Burning lunch
  • Jack going through about 20 pair of underwear/shorts
  • Jack playing in his bed for 2 hours instead of taking a nap
  • Opening the freezer to find everything melted - apparently our freezer is now broken
  • Jude pinching his finger in the door
  • Jude falling down the steps
  • Jack attacking his brother on several occasions
  • Jude running from the backyard, to the front yard, across the street and down to the neighbors driveway ... all before my pregnant, running self could catch up to him
  • Jon working late

 By the time hubby walked in the door after 6:00 I was miserable and completely at the end of my rope.  So I immediately jumped at his suggestion for a post-dinner family walk.  After chasing down boys and shoes we finally got everyone settled in the stroller and out the door ... and then we realized Jude had pooped.  Once we got everyone re-situated and started on our stroll, the rest of the walk was uneventful.  And for that I'm grateful.


Anyway, back to what this post is really about.  Jack had his second attempt at a first day of school this morning and all went well.  I tried not to talk about it too much just in case we were in for another disappointment.  He was too excited to stand still for a picture, we were on time, there were cars in the parking lot and other mama's holding their little ones' hands, Jack properly impressed his teachers with his cuteness, and he gave his Mama a big hug and then went off to play without any tears.  And Jack didn't cry either. :)  Of course, after I got out to the car I realized all the things I should have said: how we're working on being a good listener - the first time, how he needs to be reminded to be kind to to others (all the time), how he generally has "to go poop" right around 10am, maybe suggest they dilute his apple juice so he's not getting all that sugar ... you know, pertinent mom stuff.  It's probably a good thing I was too overwhelmed to remember my list.  The important thing is, I got my oldest off to his first day of school without a hitch (well at least the second time around) and I can officially cross that milestone off the Mommy List.  We're makin' progress!


Teva Beasley said...

I so appreciate you being transparent. You came up in conversation the other day as "super mom". It is nice to know that you have "normal" days. But I do still think you are a terrific mother worth looking up to.

J9 said...

Haha well thanks for the compliment Teva, but if you were only here most days you'd see how very, very normal life is! :) Wish we lived closer!

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