Is there anything more exciting than the first day of Kindergarten? Is there anything more important than getting your child ready, organized, and prepared for their first day of school? What is more exciting than packing up their new lunch box, combing their hair, and then watching them walk into their new school for the first time, with their whole lives ahead of them? In terms of parenting moments, the first day of Kindergarten is up there at the top.
This is not a day you want to screw up …
Yesterday, my precious little boy was starting Kindergarten. I had marked it down on the family calendar with lots of smiley faces, stars, and big hearts. We talked about who his teacher would be and what kids he knew in his class. We packed a special lunch and picked out a new T-shirt at Target. When he woke up that morning, he had run into my bathroom with messy hair and sleepy grin and said, “Mommy, today I am starting Kindergarten!”
It was a lovely morning…no rushing and no stress. We had breakfast together, nobody fought, and we even left the house ten minutes early. When we got outside, I got a little teary eyed. I took hundreds of pictures of him to remember the day. He was all dressed up, his hair was combed perfectly and he even remembered to brush his teeth. After I finished, I texted the best pictures to my family and friends with the following caption, “Today is a big day. My sweet Jack starts Kindergarten!”
I had taken the morning off from work…I didn’t want anything to get in the way of this momentous occasion. Because it was a special day, I decided we would walk to school as a family. At one point, while crossing the street holding hands, my kids began to sing “Wheels on the Bus.” That just might be one of my top ten parenting moments, and at the time, I could barely contain my joy. I looked at them both, squeezed their little hands, and said, “Kids, it’s going to be a great year!” As we walked to school, my son looked so old, so proud and so excited.
While we were walking, a friend of ours pulled up beside us and said, “Hey, what are you all doing?” I smiled and put my arm around Jack and said, “We are heading to Kindergarten! Today is Jack’s first day!” We both beamed proudly. Our friend looked at us with concern. “I think school starts tomorrow,” he said slowly. I looked at him with compassion and said, ‘No, it starts today…Sorry you got confused”. At that moment, the word ‘Wednesday’ did jump in my head, but I ignored it and moved on. I had marked this day, Tuesday the 6th, on my calendar and so far, my dry erase board had never let me down. As we walked away, my son looked at me and said with a grin, “Can you believe it? That dad doesn’t even know when school starts!” We laughed together (poor dad), held hands again, and skipped the rest of the way to school.
When we arrived, it was quite calm for the first day. I couldn’t believe all the kids were already in their classroom. As we got a little closer, I saw a friend of mine coming out of the office. She looked at us strangely and said under her breath, “What are you doing here?” I didn’t understand why people kept asking me this question. Wasn’t it obvious, we were going to school? As I began to answer, she slowly started to move her head side to side and quietly mouthed the word “tomorrow”. At that moment, my son looked down at the ground and began to shake his head. When his little face looked up, he had tiny tears in his eyes. He reached for my hand and said softly, “Mom, you have got to be kidding me…”
I couldn’t believe this could happen. I was so close to receiving the “Mom of the Year” award, and now, in one second, it was quickly swiped from my grasp. We went from the perfect day to the ultimate let down and I couldn't have felt worse.
I wanted to blame someone for this mistake, the principal, my dry erase board, or possibly my husband. But in the end, I knew it was my fault. I apologized to my son a hundred times and tried to tell him how great it was that we had a ‘dry run’. Eventually he started to calm down as I continued to berate myself. I kept whispering under my breath "How did this happen? I am an organized person. I am a good mom. How do you screw this up???" Eventually my son stopped me and put his little arm around me. He turned and grabbed my face and said, “Mom, it’s okay. We all make mistakes sometimes. We’ll just try again tomorrow”. I couldn’t have loved that little boy more.
Today Wednesday the 7th, we tried again. Unfortunately, this time, our morning didn’t go as smoothly. There was a lot more rushing, yelling, and arguing than yesterday. My work phone kept ringing and my daughter didn’t want to put on any clothes. The lunch we packed wasn’t special and the shirt he wore had stains on it. I was late for a meeting and couldn't find my computer. As we got in the car (because we didn’t have time to walk) my son looked at me and said, “This isn’t a dry run is it?” I told him it wasn’t and that today school started for real. As he buckled up his seat belt and sat down in his chair, he smiled at me. "Mom, I am really glad we didn't have to walk today. Today felt much more normal than yesterday. I think this is going to be a great year!"
Starting Kindergarten really is a big deal…
(Many people have asked me if this really happened. Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Everything I write about on this blog is true...because honestly, you can't make this stuff up.)