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Posts Tagged ‘kindergarten’

In Kindergarten

“I’m going to give back the friendship bracelet.” Miss C’s blue eyes stared at me, wide, unblinking, no tears, just a matter of fact look that defied her age.

“Why have you decided that?” I asked, more as a nosy mum, than Captain Problem Solver.

“She’s not being a very good friend to me.” Her five-year-old mind was made up. Fish or cut bait.

“Alright,” I replied. Miss C was right, of course. The girl in her class was being a little snot. How dare she tell Miss C’s best friend that Miss C didn’t like her any more and that they were breaking up?

Chop that friendship bracelet into itty-bitty pieces and lay it on the liar’s pillow a la the horse’s head in The Godfather.

But I’ve learned in almost ten years of parenting, to let kid problems be kid problems. So I hold my tongue. Miss C said she would talk to her teacher if this kid continued to spew her manipulative venom. I believe her.

When an older boy told Miss C she was cute and that her friend was ugly. Miss C didn’t like how that made her friend feel, so she told her teacher, who gave the friend snuggles after lunch.

It is worth mentioning that Miss S was present for this interaction on the playground and when she was asked why she didn’t tell the boy leave them alone, Miss S replied, “What? Miss C is cute.” Sisters.

But while I’m watching the ins and outs of five-year-old friendship from the sidelines, I have empathy for the other girl. Her parents are going through a divorce. And she probably feels excluded, or threatened. And I hope that Miss C and her friend are being inclusive instead of exclusive. And that the teacher will step in if she notices it getting out of hand. And, and, and…

No more eye-for-an-eye, now it’s eye for rational multi-level analysis and internal reflection. Was my cherub’s halo crooked? Was she being kind? Was the other girl hangry when she tried to break up the band? It was lunchtime.

Modern parenting. Pftt. Listen to us. No, really listen: Are you in control of your body right now? You’re not being very safe. Make sure you’re making wise choices.

Surely beneath the serene faces of mothers uttering these phrases lies a thin-lipped serpent who itches to flick a Because I said so off their tongues.

Recently, I overheard a mum hiss to her three-year-old, “You’re really pissing me off right now.”

Her tone and her words literally made me stop typing as I cast a judgy ear in her direction. A pit formed in my stomach. I felt bad for her child.

But the truth was, only an hour before preschool pickup, I had been wrestling her son into his yellow rain pants. He’d been rolling somersaults into my shins, and almost kicked me in the face with his size eight socked feet. Even though he had a grin that would melt Olaf, if I were in a different decade, my response to his blatant defiance might have been a little less sunny, than, “What’s your favourite thing about going outside?”

As I turned my attention back to the emails in front of me, I wondered if I should offer chocolates to the parents to help regulate their dopamine levels upon pick up. Transitions are hard.

As for my five-year-old, who’s transitioning from prescribed mum playdates to seeking out friends without a safety net?  The friendship bracelet is lost, so she can’t return it. And this week the girl’s been nicer.  And I try not to look amused when Miss C says, “If she’s mean again, she will only have one chance left.  After that…” She shrugs.  And I love that friendship is so cut and dry right now.  And I know this is only the beginning.  And I hope after all our gentle words and talk of kindness Miss C’s generation is more evolved when it comes to loving each other. And, and, and…

love

A bracelet I made Miss C.

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one-cmI was not that mum. You know, the one who was pulled over by the police for smoking a celebratory the kids are back in school joint? Oh, no. I was the exact opposite: mum in a puddle as she drove around singing, “One is the loneliest number…”

Today Miss C started kindergarten. She spent a whopping 105 minutes in elementary school, 9:00 – 10:45am, shorter than she ever spent at preschool, even still, my husband suggested I needed a towel instead of Kleenex.

I’m told it gets easier, so perhaps tomorrow I’ll downgrade to a hand towel, and by Monday, it will be a facecloth.

As for Miss C?  She got sick of everyone asking her if she was excited for kindergarten.Her emotions have ranged from, annoyance, to flashing a sideways thumb, to flat out overwhelmed tears.

Thanks to her ups and downs and in-betweens, my own feelings on the subject have been silenced. Selling this amazing opportunity, has forced me to change the words I use around her.

Of course I’d love for her to continue to be my fearless adventurer, shopping consultant, duet partner for the rest of my life. But in the words of Phil Keoghan, “the world is waiting,” so I suppose it’s time for my cub to start her race… but only for 358 minutes a day, Monday to Friday. Sorry, world, I’ve got her on weekends.

Just as her sisters before her, Miss C has morphed into an inquisitive, too smart for her own good, little girl. This summer we’ve covered everything from why people don’t throw dead bodies into the garbage when they die, to, “It just looks like Prince William and Princess Catherine are going to jail,” when a motorcade passed us on the highway and I told her the police were most likely practicing for the royal visit later this month.

I’ve always said Miss C’s the type of kid who likes a newspaper and cup of coffee in the morning. And watching her shop with her fun money on Wednesday served to confirm how mature her thought process is at 4.5.

She bought nail polish. The first of my girls to ever wander a toy store for forty-five minutes and come out with a, “My sissies won’t ever want to wear this because it’s too sparkly,” bottle of polish. At least it’s functional.

Oh and she now wants a unicorn head mask for her birthday, so at night she can poke her head up from the bottom bunk and scare Miss Q, who sleeps on the top.

Today, with my three girls at the same school, grades four, two and kindergarten, my world has just shifted. I’ve known this moment’s been coming ever since I started having babies. People often told me how amazing it would be, I’d finally get to go back to work full-time, write, workout… In short: have my pre-kid life back.

But the thing is, I never needed any of that. Raising my girls through each of their first five years has been my most favourite thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never felt so whole as a person as when I was trucking off for an adventure with my three girls in tow.

And now, for the first time in 9.5 years, there isn’t a baby to nurse, child to entertain, hand to wipe – okay there was, my husband’s.

After we dropped the littles off, he put his bike together and then asked if I had a baby wipe. “You’re not who they were meant for,” I accused, handing him the package.

So the question remains, now that my littles are on track to leave their marks on the world, what am I going to do?

Once again, as it was ten years ago, the possibilities are endless, though I’ve been told by many a wise been there, done that mama, to keep working part-time as long as I can. Apparently I’ll feel needed again when my girls become teenagers.

Miss C, for the record, let us leave her in her new classroom with zero issues.  She reported school was “good” and when asked for details said, “I forgot.”

How quickly they learn.

nails

Pretty nails for first day are a must for all kindergarteners.

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Well, it’s official. Miss S can now join me at poetry slams. My girl has learned to snap.

Her determination to learn this skill began during music. Her kindergarten class is learning a song for the spring concert. They have to move their arms up and down, snapping on the downbeat.

“I have to do this,” she said, doing three bicep curls.

“And snap?” I asked.

“Yes, but I have to do this too,” she said, doing the bicep curls again. Her fingers were pinched together like two chicken beaks. They didn’t move.

“Try to press the soft parts of your fingers together.” I demonstrated. “Then push your thumb towards the window.”

She watched, placed her fingers and pushed her thumb towards the window, but her fingers were too damp and she wasn’t strong enough to get a true snap.

“Keep practicing,” I told her, wondering how old I was when I learned.

Less than a week later, she proudly showed off her new trick. “I can snap and move my arms. Watch.” There she stood in our kitchen making sounds with her thumb and middle finger.

Miss S is now well on her way to snapping bottle caps, teleportation and keeping a beat during her kindergarten song. But above all that, she’s mastered the art of perseverance and that is the most beautiful sound of all.

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And Then There Was One

Listening to Let it Go as I drove away from the elementary school this morning probably wasn’t the best choice in music.  But there we were: Miss C sitting in the back singing, better yet, allowing me to sing along with her, while Miss Q started her fourth official day of grade two, and Miss S started her first official day of kindergarten. And, as soon as we arrived at the preschool, and dropped Miss C off, the minivan would be empty for the first time in seven years.  Oi, this mama was leak-ing.

These days it isn’t hard to make this mama leak.  My pride swells like the flood tides every time my littles accomplish something, and these days milestones seem to be around every corner.

Kindergarten, for Miss S, took forever to come.  Nothing like being asked by everyone you meet if you’re ready for kindergarten and then being told you’ve got to wait, maybe next week, maybe October.

But it’s September.  Officially autumn.  Miss S now sits among her peers in a kindergarten classroom, ready to take on the world.  Class of 2027 here she comes, even though yesterday she decided to wear only her bathingsuit while we shopped because she really wanted to go swimming.

Miss S has always had a sense of style: monkey socks, ruffled skirts, leggings, gold shirts and Olaf effortlessly swirl together, she never bemoans she has nothing to wear.

Today for her first official day she wore a red frilly dress, brown leggings and reindeer socks.  Once she’d slipped on her hot pink indoor shoes, I kissed her good-bye and she was off: swallowed whole by the classroom.

Of course any parent will tell you five years passes like *that*.  Poof: Miss S has morphed from an infant strapped to my chest in an Ergo to a monkey loving five-year-old who finds humour in practically everything she touches.

Tonight as I drove her home from highland dance she sang Monkey Frozen.  As the CD played, again, she changed every noun to the word ‘monkey’ giggling ferociously as she sang.

Another one  of my favourite moments with Miss S was when we were bike riding this summer.  A hill caught her by surprise.  Instead of frapping, she rode it out, peddling furiously.  All Miss Q and I could hear was her laughing with glee as she speed down the hill on two wheels.

Magical.

This afternoon as I waited for the bell to release my littles back to me, I took comfort in knowing Miss S and Miss Q were at the same school.  Even though I don’t remember ever hanging around my brothers at recess or lunch, and I had three of them there with me, I figured Miss Q and Miss S would delight in seeing each other.

Apparently it wasn’t a complete raccoon love-fest like I’d imagined.  “Well I saw Miss S on the playground at recess and lunch but she didn’t look lonely.”  So Miss Q decided to play with her own friends leaving Miss S all alone for her first recess ever on the monkey bars.

Miss S didn’t mind. She said she almost figured out the rings by herself and she played with one of Miss Q’s old friends at lunch.  Also there was a gingerbread hunt that took them through the school and ended with them eating gingerbread cookies in the morning and music class. The stories kept coming.

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.  And truly, though the lump in my throat threatens my grin, today is one of pride, of overwhelming joy, of celebration.  All those sleepless nights, diapers, tummy time frets, how small should we cut her grapes worries, everything preschool, and everything in between, happened so that this spunky, beautiful girl with a laughing heart could walk into kindergarten and be a-okay.  And you know what?  She absolutely was.

 

 

 

 

 

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“Here come the grade ones,” Miss Q’s teacher announced as the kindergarten class of 2013 exited the blue elementary school door Thursday.  We all clapped as our littles beamed and made their way to us.

Poof.  176 days have passed just like that.  It feels like only yesterday I was speed walking away from the same blue door, for fear the other parents would see me openly weep over leaving my oldest colouring in her new classroom.

I never thought I’d warm to all-day kindergarten, but I think I have.  It still sucks that I’ve been robbed of an extra year of half days with my child, but Miss Q bloomed in all day kindergarten.  Age, ability, zest for life; it was the perfect storm of readiness.

While Miss Q figured out new routines, new friends, and new adults, I had to figure out what kind of parent I was going to be.  Not with Miss Q, but with her teacher.  Should I be checking in every week? Every month? Never?  I didn’t want to be labeled a problem parent, but I itched to know what Miss Q did between the hours of 9 and 3.

In the end I checked in when needed, like when I found out Miss Q and her friends were  licking each other hello, tongue to tongue, like cats.  Never thought I’d be writing that note.  Nor did I think I’d need to figure out how to help Miss Q from afar with boys who were forcing her to run at both recess and lunch. If she didn’t run they’d swarm and weren’t taking no for an answer.  Then there were the older boys who were taking the kindies’ boots as they played on the monkey bars… Too bad mums marching onto the blacktop at lunch and recess to fight their children’s problems is frowned upon.  But we all got through.

For not knowing anything about the elementary school itself, it turned out to be a diamond in the rough.  Small, nice staff, fun traditions, like grandfriends day, where my parents got to go to school with Miss Q, were treated to a concert and then ate a picnic lunch on the grass.

We completely lucked out with Miss Q’s teacher as well, and I’m not just saying that because Miss Q came home with a giant scrapbook of her year in art compiled by her teacher.  Her teacher was truly beyond lovely.

And now, with one year of elementary school under her belt, Miss Q has been returned to me.  She needs new running shoes, new dresses and front teeth, but she knows how to read simple sentences, write simple words and can count forwards and backwards without batting an eye.

Here’s to another twelve years my girl!

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“I think some kids in kindergarten are too excited about growing up,” Miss Q announced this week.

Immediately my mum ears, like satellites, tuned themselves to her voice.  What were we talking here? Drugs?  Sex?  Rock ‘n Roll?  “What makes you think that?” I asked.

I just knew public school was no place for a child.  After all, if Laura had continued being home schooled by Ma, she would have never been antagonized by Nellie.  Okay, that was Little House On the Prairie, but, still, I wondered who the Nellie was in Miss Q’s class.

Annnd, maybe this is why Miss Q banned me from asking her questions after school earlier that day.  Yes, banned.  Me.  I whimper, licking my paw, looking innocent.

We were walking home as we usually do; I was asking questions like, “Did you play outside today?” and “Did you have a good friend day?”  I wasn’t concerned about one word answers, this was the golden hour: after school, if I didn’t ask now, her day’s events would be lost to nighttime activity; besides, she’d want to share, nay be bursting to share… or at least that was what I’d been told.

My little sweet pea turned and said, “You’re not allowed to ask me any more questions about school.”

“But why not?”

“Because (insert exasperated high school-esq sigh) you’re asking too many questions.”

“I’m only asking them because I want to know what you’re doing all day.  Mummy isn’t there to see what’s going on, and I’m interested.”

“Well then,” Miss Q said without missing a beat.  “I’ll tell my teacher and get her to write out what we’re doing each day and then she can put it in my read folder for you to read.”

She would too.  “No, don’t do that.  Your teacher’s too busy.”  And would think I was loooopy.

“Well then when I learn how to write, I’ll write what I do every day and give you the note.”

“Perfect.  I can’t wait.”

We walked in silence up the hill.  At the top, like a bad sitcom, I asked, “Did you play with Miss M?”

“Muuuum.  That’s a question?”

“Sorry, sorry.”  If she wasn’t going to talk to me, I’d just get my husband to ask the questions.  Try to outsmart the fox, she wasn’t.

Life lesson #600,000,001: Patience and timing.

After dinner, Miss Q stood in front of me and declared, “I think some kids in kindergarten are too excited about growing up.”

“What makes you think that?”

“Well, one of the girls in my class said that one of the boys in my class was her boyfriend.”  She giggled, covering her mouth.

“How did she know he was her boyfriend?”  Was that one question too many?  Would my informant be scared off?  Please don’t say they kissed.  Please don’t say they kissed.

“He’s on her list.”

“She has a list?”

“Yep.  And do you know who else is on it?”

“No.”

“A bunch of adults and Justin Bieber.”  Miss Q chortled.  “Isn’t that crazy?”

“Do you even know who Justin Bieber is?”  By this time, I knew we were on a juicy subject, and I was so happy she was finally sharing something about school, that I started discreetly taking notes.  Judge me as you will.

“Yes, he’s on the radio, Mum.  Bet he doesn’t know he has a kindergartener to be his girlfriend.”

“He probably has some idea.”

“(The boy in her class) has a list too.  He was making good choices by pointing to all the girls in class and saying they were his girlfriend.”

“I suppose that would be considered a good choice.  Did he point to you?”  Who was this little casanova?

“He pointed at everyone.”  Miss Q threw up her hands. She was beside herself with excitement.  “If they’re already talking about this stuff, they’re a little young.”

“You’re right, they are.  But maybe they have older brothers or sisters who have boyfriends and girlfriends.”

“(The boy) has an older brother.  I don’t know about (the girl).  But they say they’re each other’s girlfriend and boyfriend.”

“What does that mean?”

“I don’t know.”  Miss Q’s mood was suddenly serious.  “But they’re also a little young to start their choosing.”

One of Miss Q’s favourite books to have read to her is Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder; hence the ‘choosing’ reference… I think.

“You’re right, they are.  You’ll have to point (the boy) out to me.”

“He’s the one with the way different face.”

“What?  Does he have fangs?”

“No.”

“Horns?”

“No.”

Turns out the distance between the bottom of his nose and top lip is slightly smaller than the other boys in Miss Q’s class.

To this non-five-year-old’s eye, he looks like a regular child, albeit his blond hair and blue eyes remind me of a certain classroom heartthrob from 25 years ago – but that was when I was in grade five, not five-years old.

Honey, I don’t think we’re in preschool anymore.

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I don’t have many days left to sleep in.  In less than 48 hours, I will be doing sun salutations with the rest of the world, then twinkling into my daughters’ room singing, “Good morning Mary Sunshine, why did you wake so soon?  You scared away the stars last night and frightened away the moon.”  

My lark-like song will prompt Miss Q to sproing out of bed like Tigger and race into the kitchen where she will eagerly eat whatever the breakfast fairies made, dress in record time, have her teeth brushed, hair accessorized and be waiting at the stroller with her backpack on and a giant grin.

I’d like to think parts of that story are true.  Aside from not knowing the routine of school, which is making Miss Q a tad unsure, she is raring to go, and I mean raring.

Her new green backpack has been hanging in the kitchen for about a month, her school supplies are safely tucked inside, along with a discreet package of hand sanitizers.  You never know when she might stop her playing and think, “Boy it’s been a while since I washed my hands.”

She’s a smart kid.  She knows all the parts of her body inside and out; knows how to do CPR should the teacher run into trouble (though her compressions might be too shallow); and knows that ‘mum’ is spelled two different ways, thanks to our American neighbours.  She should do just fine.

Thanks to existing without an alarm clock for the last five years, I will be the one with all the problems in these early days of sending my oldest off to the big school.

First of all, what the heck does one wear on the first day of school?  Should I have gone to some adult stores for some back to school shopping of my own?  By adult stores, I mean places adults shop, not places adults shop that have red lights and signs saying: No admittance for children under 16.

On the first day, I want to look like the mum who has everything figured out, not that mum who shows up in her sweats, that doubled as pj’s the night before; or who loaded two of her three kids into the stroller, with the promise of Slurpees for breakfast after dropping their older sister off, then raced to beat the 8:46 bell.

First impressions are important.  This might be our first of six years (kindergarten to grade 5, with Miss Q), but our family will be attending this school for a grand total of 10 years by the time Miss C reaches grade 5. I don’t want to be labeled ‘that mum’ in our first 10 minutes.

You know: that mum who’s way too made up for 8 a.m. and who smells like the perfume aisle of Sears.  That mum who’s way too attached to her child, so much that they dress alike for the first month.  That mum who forgot to put on deodorant and might smell a wee bit like vodka but the other parents aren’t quite sure.

I want the parents of Miss Q’s new friends to feel comfortable sending them to our house to play, create and imagine.  However, I’m not too sure if I want Miss Q to be racing off to their houses, in a pot calling the kettle black moment, I’ve got to make sure they check out first.

I want Miss Q to be proud that I’m her mum when she sees me waiting for her at the end of the day… or at lunchtime should her sisters and I happen to stroll by the school yard…

I know in the end, because it’s all about me, on our first day of school, I’ll be just like all the other parents, wearing regular mum clothes, and tears… I’ll keep the Kleenex out of my bra.

Today, as I watch Miss Q play with fairies, and read posts from friends about their children going off to an assortment of grades for the first time, I realize how true the saying is when you’re a parent:  The days are long, but the years pass quickly.

The last 2041 days with Miss Q have been luxuriously long, and they have passed way too quickly.

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