Fall of 2015 I was a fresh faced (except for the ever flowing tears) mom of a shiny, new kindergartner. We were both excited for his first year of school! He was excited for new friends, a big playground to visit everyday, and getting chocolate milk, again, everyday. I was excited for him making new friends, learning new things, volunteering in his classroom and him having more structure than preschool. Spring of 2015 we ended his first year of kindergarten both having realized starting this school-age journey was so much more than we expected. Some of our hopes were true (who knew kindergartners today really do get to choose chocolate milk EVERY DAY) and some were not what we expected. However, there were several other surprises that came along this first year of kindergarten. Life-changing surprises. Things I will never look at the same or things I will never find quite as charming as I did before. In no particular order, I present to you:
Things You View Differently When Your Kid(s) Start School
- Box Tops. You will never, ever buy something in the grocery store again, without pouring over it, hoping to find a box-top for education. Great program. Sure. Annoying as all get out to be hassled by your kid’s school to hustle these things in? YES.
- Classroom Volunteering. This will be so cute! So sweet! I will go read for 30 minutes each week and delight my child and his friends. I will see them dressed as cute little pilgrims at Thanksgiving – for thirty minutes. No. Not accurate. You will be asked, for more holidays than you ever knew existed, to come volunteer in the classroom. For blocks of HOURS. If you stay at home, you will need to find childcare for any other children. If you work outside the home, like me, you will need to ask your boss for time off, yet again, to go volunteer at the school. May the Lord grant you all an understanding boss who loves kids, like mine. Also, the volunteering is NOT cute. Sometimes, but mostly no. You will be asked to sling slushy juice in the 100 degree heat, grill copious amounts of hot dogs, do a craft with 15 kids hocked up on a days worth of sugar and adrenaline and, well, you get the idea. It’s not easy.
- Learning New Things. Yes, they will learn a ton of new things. The surprise: YOU will, too. There is a ridiculous amount of homework sent home. There is also a new thing called Family Learning. Say what? Activities for the family to do together in the evenings and over holiday breaks to continually encourage learning and family time. Hey, I get it. All great things, but you know what? I prefer to do it when it’s not DUE on Friday.
- Fundraising. Right now, prior to school-age children, you probably view fundraising as great. Something wonderful to do for worthy causes. I get it. My husband is a fundraiser by occupation! However, by the end of you and your child’s first year of school fundraising will be viewed as shameful. You will have solicited your friends, family, coworkers and Facebook acquaintances for everything from new books, to that big playground, heart health and everything in between. YOU, because no one allows door-to-door sales anymore, will be an expert at selling wrapping paper, candy, candles, seed packets and just flat out asking for cold hard cash. People will run when they see you coming….or posting.
- Uniforms. I have three young kids at home. They ALL have opinions on what they do on don’t like to wear. It changes on a, sometimes, daily basis. I was really looking forward to uniforms. Grab a shirt, grab some pants, done. Ehh, not really. There is any kind of logo on it? Nope! Kid leaves coat in hallway? Good luck finding that with the 100s of other coats JUST LIKE IT. Just in from a quick weekend trip? You now get to do laundry. So someone can go to school without getting written up or sent home the next day. (TIPS: monogram EVERYTHING and buy A LOT of it.)
- Car Line. THE. Car line. Wow. Can we just take a minute to applaud whichever teaching genius developed the car line? It is, to say the least, a fine-tuned, well-oiled machine. Prior to school starting you might think you can just roll-up to the school and when your kid sees your car, hop in. No. Big no. Behavior like that will get you both kicked out of the school. You need a number, not a phone number, but an assigned number. You also need that number on color coded paper. You need to have their booster seat on a special side of the car, you need to NOT be on your cell phone, you need to NOT drive too close to the car in front of you or the curb. Just wait. You will get a sheet of paper with all instructions. You will actually get it twice. Once when you register and then again when “some” parents don’t follow the rules and the school sends it out. Again.
Once you get past the growing pains, school really is a fun journey for parents and kids to take together. Sit back, enjoy the ride through the car-line and enjoy a snack with a box-top on it while you wait your turn.