It’s Kindergarten (Or, Where’d the Time Go?!)

Life As Mom Thursday, August 28, 2014

It just didn’t register. When people would ask me whether I was emotional or excited it, I kept saying the same thing: I’m in a state of disbelief. I repeated this line because it was the truth.

That The Youngster was heading off to kindergarten this school year simply didn’t seem real to me. It was just March yesterday. How is it we’re talking about fall and big-kid school and the riding the bus and packed lunch today? I know we grown-ups say it a lot, but, seriously, where did the time go??!

Welcome to Kindergarten | Ms. Mary Mack

A few other parent friends sending their young’uns into this new world for the first time told me that they expected to be a complete mess on that First Day. Some got teary just talking about getting teary. I didn’t, though. And it’s not because I’m some hardened Hulk. (Listen, a well-placed iPhone TV commercial can get me a little verklempt in seconds. Since becoming a mother, I think the volume has been jacked up to 20 on all things sweet and sentimental.) For some reason, I just wasn’t feeling the swell of bittersweet about this big transition in my kid’s young life.

I was definitely proud and excited for him. He’d been going to preschool and Pre-K over the last couple of years, and moving on up to the real deal with lockers and a cafeteria and school supplies and other big kids felt like progress.

Back to School | Ms. Mary Mack

Then late last night, I figured I should make the guy’s lunch in case we’re rushing around in the morning, trying to make the school bus on time.

Uh … wait. The school bus.

THE SCHOOL BUSSSSSS! ACKKK! HE’S GOING TO BE RIDING THE BUS, THE KIND WITHOUT SEAT BELTS OR CAR SEATS OR … ME!

This is when it hit me. It all started to come into focus: my little guy, who was just a sweet little cinnamon bun a few weeks ago, is growing up. And it’s happening so very fast.

As I made his sandwich and sliced up his apple, I started wondering what I should do about the big bus moment going down the next morning. I wondered out loud on Facebook, as one does. I asked: Should I follow the bus to school or wave goodbye and let go? I already knew which way I was leaning, but it’s always interesting to hear from other mothers — moms who are old-hat about the whole school bus thing, after doing it for five, six years now, like my older sister Yvette who said, plainly, “Do NOT follow that bus.” Ha!

So I finished making the lunch, went to bed and had a good sleep. I wasn’t anxious or frazzled. This morning, we all woke in good time and had a smooth start to the day. The Youngster was clearly excited, and chatted his way through breakfast. We did a quick review of what’s what: the bus trip, what goes in his locker, making sure his listening ears were on and secure, etc.

We did the photos on the front step, with the fun “First Day of Kindergarten” sign. I asked him what he wanted to be when he grows up — a tradition I’d like to continue on the first day — and wrote it on the sign for our family pictures. (He said he wants to be an astronaut-construction worker, which means he’ll “build things in space.” Make room, Neil deGrasse Tyson!)

Then we walked to the corner to wait for the bus.

First Days | Ms. Mary Mack

Two neighborhood kids, 5th graders, were as sweet as can be to my son, with the young girl asking if he wanted her to sit with him. The bus arrived. I introduced myself to the driver, snapped even more photos, gave The Youngster a hug and a kiss … and then waved goodbye.

That’s when I felt the squeeze on my heart and my throat got scratchy. My eyes were welling up and I was going to let it all happen.

But then a new neighbor, who had just moved in a month ago, re-introduced himself to my husband and me, and like that, we were pulled into a nice conversation with him, and away from staring at the tail lights of the bus with out wet eyes.

When we got back into the house, my husband and I hugged and congratulated ourselves on the nice-and-easy morning and for raising ourselves a delightful little kindergartener. Hand-claps all around, I say.

But I wanted more. I wanted to see more. I didn’t follow the bus, Yvette, but before I went off on my morning run, I passed by the school, staying far enough in the back of the parking lot that I couldn’t be seen. Fine! I was totally lurking. I saw him stride off the bus and into the line-up with other tiny people and then into his new domain.

And I said it out loud, there by myself: Wow. Look at my big boy. There were tears gathering in the corners of my eyes and my lip did that quiver thing, but I was happy, smiling through this incredible memory in the making.

The 7 Indisputable Rules of Little Kid Fashion

MMM Showcase, Parental Intel Friday, August 22, 2014

Good news! I’ve been asked to join Mom.me’s writers’ circle. This means I’ll be posting more regularly on that lovely site. I dipped my toes back in those waters last month when I wrote about my daily morning debate between motherhood and runner. Then I got into talking about my recent awkward encounters with other people’s kids (and the parents, too!). This time around, it’s all about the “rules” of dressing them kids! Have a read, and let me know what you think. And, if you feel so moved, please share the link in your circles. Thanks!

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Balance | Ms. Mary Mack

The days of dressing my 5-year-old son are over. Actually, they came to an end a few years ago, when speaking in full and clear sentences was no longer a mountain he needed to climb. He was there, at the summit, expressing how he really felt about the clothing choices I’d been making for him. No more cute, fly-guy fashions and themed outfits, like super-mini skater kid, tiny Harvard preppy, or the “Mad Men” Casual Beach thing I was getting away with for a stretch. Once this kid was able to express his likes and — as was often the case — staunch dislikes, the couture was cut down to a set of very basic rules. Rules that may not be bent or broken, for the retribution would be steep … and bloody annoying.

I learned the hard way and endured the battle of the morning get-dressed scene, and have come out on the other side. So, in the interest of each one teach one, I present to you the 7 Rules of Little Kid Fashion, as told to me by my son — who, for this exercise, we’ll call Maester ICanDoItMyself.

1. Band-Aids Take Priority. If there is ever a bandage covering a bump, scrape or cut [Parent edit: real or imagined ones], be sure that socks and sleeves do not cover this important plaster. Unless, of course, these things bring added protection to this most necessary tourniquet. In that case, pull the socks up all the way to the knee, making doubly sure they stay up, and drag those sleeves or pant legs carefully over the important bandage. Failure to comply will result in certain grumpiness and more than a few Band-Aids wasted in the “reapplication” process.

2. Tag, You’re Not It! No matter how much I claim to like a shirt, if the tag scrapes or tickles the back of my neck, even just a little, we will have a problem. I will not think twice to demand that the offending tag be completely removed. It’s lay flat or go home. (Home being the garbage bin here.) And, Parent, it’s probably a safer bet that you memorize the wash and care instructions of all my shirts, as I have a zero-tolerance policy about tags that don’t follow the clear rules.

Read all 7 rules here on Mom.me.

Unplugged and Gone Fishin’

Life As Mom Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hi there! Guess what? I’m on vacation.

Go-Gos Vacation | Ms. Mary Mack

Well, staycation, to be more precise. Taking some time to enjoy summer as it runs on out the door. So, in order to do the staycay right, I’m unplugged and offline and singing this song all week.

Back soon.

Until then, enjoy this, because owls don’t play (but careful, some spicy language at the end):

And this, because #thembabies will figure it all out:

And this, because it’s old school YouTube and never fails to make my Mum laugh:

Take care of yourselves, friends.

My Cringe-Filled Experiences Around Other People’s Kids

MMM Showcase, Parental Intel Thursday, August 14, 2014

Good news! I’ve been asked to join Mom.me’s writers’ circle. This means I’ll be posting more regularly on that lovely site. I dipped my toes back in those waters just last month when I wrote about my daily morning debate between motherhood and runner. This time around I’m talking about my recent awkward encounters with other people’s kids (and the parents, too!). Have a read, and let me know what you think. 

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From the minute they bustled through the doors, I started holding my breath. It was a small family — a set of older parents with a 3-year-old child — descending upon the already cramped airport lounge. There was a storm brewing on the East Coast, delaying a large batch of flights out. The benefit of being able to recline in comfy seats with a kind buffet of warm pasta, cold sandwiches and simple snacks, and free Wi-Fi was not lost on me. I was ever grateful, specifically because I had my 5-year-old son along with me on this trip.

Photo credit: Mom.me

Photo credit: Mom.me

We had just tucked into another bowl of cheddar fish when the trio — we’ll call them The Louds — stomped in. Kid Loud was high-octane, just whining and yelling and taking bratdom to the next level. Even my son said, “Mom, that kid is really whiny — way more whinier than any other person I’ve ever seen.” Word, li’l homey. Word.

The child’s parents looked completely exhausted and deflated: The dad proceeded to take out his laptop and fully ignore his kid, while the mother chased after and tried to corral the tiny human.

They picked the row of seats facing us. (Yay.) Kid Loud steamrolled over and started poking, talking, nudging, hugging, yelling, grabbing food and generally bugging my son. The two kids played, as best as they could. I must have heard Kid Loud’s name about 58 times in the span of 20 minutes, as the mother tried in vain to set her child straight. We still had another 90 minutes before our delayed flight was set to leave, yet I seriously considered fleeing the comforts of the lounge and heading to the sweatbox of the faraway, woefully neglected “satellite” terminal just to escape The Louds.

Instead I tried to focus on my newspaper, but ended up going over the same damn sentence on loop. At one point I was even reading out loud, in a stage whisper, to rise above the din of Kid Loud. Then I tried to zone out, get Zen, meditate. No luck. Listen, even Deepak Chopra would have given up and Namaste’d on out of there.

Read the full post here on Mom.me.

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