Monday, August 24, 2009

The School Bus Will Be Here Soon

We're back from a nice vacation and now it's back to school for my daughter. I'm so down about it, I have to really try to pick myself up. I'm focusing on the good things coming. Apples, Halloween and having a little time to myself. To write!

I thought I'd post an article I wrote before last summer for my local paper, The Fauquier Democrat. I don't think I'm up to writing a post about how much I will miss my little girl and the summer!

What I Learned in Kindergarten

Summer is almost here. I have looked forward to Summer 2008 since last Labor Day when my daughter headed to kindergarten. Through the winter, I enjoyed snow days and thoughts of summer break. Through the spring, I enjoyed the occasional vacation day and thoughts of summer break. I looked forward to having my daughter home with me all day to go to the park, the swimming pool or just for a picnic in the backyard.

Now, it’s here. My daughter is graduating from kindergarten, and all I now want is to go back to last Labor Day! I’m hard to please, huh? But, I can’t figure out how her first year passed so quickly? How did my first baby get to be a first grader!
I think back to the first day of school, snapping pictures as she headed down our brick walk to the school bus. Her green dress was a little too big and her new backpack drooped to her ankles.

I couldn’t get over it for weeks. I would walk with my son in the single stroller through Old Town feeling as if I was missing something important. Like an arm. Now, I don’t think I can get over the end of it! She has finally learned to tie her shoes. Who knew tying your shoes was so hard to teach? She has learned to read. That was certainly a momentous occasion.

She has gotten accustomed to doing homework first, and then playing. My husband and I got comfortable with her kindergarten teacher. We learned her school identity, bus and homeroom numbers. The cost of milk with and without lunch. Now she and I know which lunches she likes to buy, when to pack and that parents can actually eat with their kids.

She learned she loved the bus. I am glad my daughter is a fan of public transportation. But, I also found her brother and I can walk her to school on nice mornings. That’s a treasure. She has made a whole new set of friends and I have finally remembered all their names. I learned that even Kindergarteners want to go to the sock hop and if you don’t take them, they will be mad come Monday morning when their friends talk of nothing else. Apparently, there was not only disco music but dancing on the stage. I have been making up for that little oversight ever since.

I learned it’s best to find out the whole story to her school day by waiting until she is ready to talk. I was told green corduroy dresses with red appliqué ponies look dorky and to have a holiday outfit backup. “The big kids don’t dress like this, Mom. Ugh.”

Importantly, I found it necessary to ask everyday if underwear had been a consideration while dressing especially when wearing skirts.

I had to remember long vowels versus short ones. How to write correctly on lined paper and how to spell condensation. I remembered what a school cafeteria smells like, how to make a boat that will float and that kids celebrate the 100th day of school.

I have battled the inevitable introduction to things like Hannah Montana and High School Musical and come through without giving in. For now.

The desire to be independent has both grown and decreased. She insists on combing her own hair even though she may miss the bus, but somehow I am still needed to fetch a tissue, paper towel or help with a bathroom break.

She has learned how to get dressed, make her bed and brush her teeth each morning without forgetting to do one of them. This took all year. She has found she can indeed be patient with her little brother when she gets home from school. All he wants is to attack her as soon as she’s through the door. “Guess what I did today, Big Sis? And, play with me, please!”

All these experiences under her belt, I should be happy. But, I want to go back. Learn them all again. Enjoy them more. Slow down the days. This time, I will give her the space she needs to learn to tie her shoes. I found hovering doesn’t help. I will not expect Christmas break to be a real holiday vacation. It’s more like a long weekend with a lot of family trips involved to make it seem even shorter.

I couldn’t have enjoyed snow days anymore than I did because they really were the best. But, I wouldn’t want any more than we had less the school year grow even longer. Most importantly, I would not wish for summer break to come quickly.
I refuse to feel the need to have her in every possible activity during the break. I want a summer similar to my own. Long days at the pool, sleeping in the car on the ride home, and then shucking corn out back for dinner. Or going outside so early in the morning to swing that she still has on her pajamas. Mosquito bites and suntan lotion. The smell of your own backyard as a thunderstorm is looming and the feel of the grass as you lay and watch the clouds. Walking to the Warrenton Fourth of July parade while we mop our foreheads. Classic Americana. That’s what summer break is supposed to be.

My daughter will turn six this summer. My son will turn three. My husband and I each will get another year older. All this from Memorial to Labor Day. It’s a lot to accomplish.

I have learned my most important lesson this year in kindergarten. Stop wishing for the good times in the future and enjoy the good times at present. I’ll wait to introduce my daughter to Little Women for a few years and enjoy Judy Bloom with her instead. And, I’ll savor every day this summer break. At least the ones where no one is screaming, whining or complaining. Perhaps, when those inevitable moments come, I might actually be able to remember to take a deep breath, pour a nice healthy glass of wine and savor those moments too.

More than likely, nothing that civilized will happen. But, come next Labor Day, I’m sure I’ll be reminiscing and wishing for the good old days of Summer Break 2008. It will only be the good times I’ll miss. Whatever your situation, try to enjoy the heat, humidity and even the mosquitoes. I hope it’s a peaceful and relaxing one for us all!

I now commit myself to have an enjoyable Fall 2009. Here's to hoping for no fights while getting dressed for school, no mean girls in the 2nd grade and lots of fun!

I hope each of you with young kids has the same!

1 comment:

  1. Glad you're back! Hope you had a great time! Great advice here. My daughter started high school this year. It seems like yesterday that I was watching her get on the bus for kindergarten. We all need to slow down and enjoy the time we are in, rather than wishing for the future. Thanks for the reminder!