Tuesday, September 07, 2010

K Girl

Jarrah started kindergarten this morning. And was a total champ about it. Her mama? Not so much.

For one thing, I felt like bloody hell when the alarm went off. I think I lay awake most of the night, heart pounding. What I was afraid of is unclear, but that never stops me from wasting precious z's at ungodly hours. I had super-smartly packed her lunch and laid out her clothes the night before (wonder how long that will last?) and drilled her on how there would be no TV with breakfast anymore. She was sound asleep when I touched her arm and she gasped when I said it was time to get up. "What? But I just went to bed!" You and me both, kid.

The back-to-school dress we'd planned was too big and missing a bow (!) so we scrambled for a back-to-school skirt instead. She was very excited about her backpack and her new shoes, and eager to get in the car for once.

The crowds were teeming blocks away from school, so we nabbed the first spot we could find. Turned out to be a good one, since it was across from the (often locked) front gates. A lot of kids were posing in front of the school sign, which I thought was a cute idea.

And that is where my jaded, grown-up, my-kid-has-already-been-in-school-four-years resolve fell to bits. I called out "Jarrah, why don't you pose in front of the..." I was about to say "Dailard sign!" but no sound came out, and some tears did. Uh-oh, I thought. I was totally not going to do this.

As we passed through the gates, the first bell rang. Those babies are LOUD. Jarrah gripped my hand and looked at me like "Please don't let them hurt me!" That broke my heart. Her first experience with school bells. They really are awful. I think she is also terrified of tardy slips since I've threatened her with them for six months now.

We saw Jennie and Cameron, the two moms from Price whose kids are in Jarrah's room, standing outside the class. I asked David to take our pic together, as you can see. There were two buckets in front of the door, one for depositing lunch boxes, and one for "snack bags." Here's where I fell down on the job: no snack bag. I must correct that tomorrow.

I don't think we really got a true goodbye. There was no tremulous eye contact, fierce hugging, smothering kisses or desperate last reaches. Suddenly, she was just...gone. Inside the inner sanctum, where no parents were invited. I understand why, but it was odd. I handed over our "donations," feeling not so puffed up with pride anymore now that I'd blown it with the snack thing.

Right after there was a "Coffee Jitters" event in the Teacher's Lounge--muffins and chit-chat with the the Parent Teacher Foundation and the principal. I couldn't hear very much. I ended up talking with Melissa, whose son is not in Jarrah's room, about how her goodbye was unsatisfying. "Were you hoping he would run into your arms in slo-mo through a field of waving grasses, backlit with beauty lighting?" I teased. "The higher our expectations, the more unsatisfying the real thing." She said she supposed that was true. Of course, I talk a good game, but we all know I was just trying to convince myself with my jaunty words.

There was a freaky moment when we saw--from a distance--Jarrah's entire class being marched toward us single-file for their tour of the cafeteria. We knew this because we'd seen another class doing it earlier. But Jarrah's class was clad--every last one--in some sort of giant bright-orange t-shirt. "They've been orangified," David remarked in his inimitable way. But to me, it looked like nothing so much as a tiny chain-gang on the move...kitted out to go pick up trash on the side of the highway. Gave me the shivers.

Before we knew it, Jittters time was over, and David dropped me at home and went to work. I promptly fell into bed for an hour in a sandbag-like stupor, and awakened to my alarm so I could take myself to the movies and sulk. I saw Going the Distance, which I actually found extremely funny--I always love Drew Barrymore and Justin Long, and the jokes were a bit shockingly raunchy, in a good way.

Afterward, I could barely wait to go pick up the young miss and hear about the day's adventures. I ran into Cheri inside the gate, and we waited with a massive crowd for the teachers to bring the kids out to the flagpole, like we'd been told. By the time we realized that the whole school was out there except our kids, I had fallen down on the job again. I slalomed my way through the crowd to Jarrah's room only to find I was THE LAST MOM in there, and Jarrah was plenty relieved to see me (she wasn't alone--a bunch of former students had stopped by to visit with her teacher.) I heard "She had a great day today!" in passing and then Jarrah took over about the beautiful hand-shaped sugar cookie with a red heart cut out of the center (the heart was in the bag, too) "one of the moms" had made for them to go with their reading of The Kissing Hand. (Had just heard about this from Melissa, because apparently it's the go-to "starting kindergarten" book--am I living under an adult-sized rock?)

I kidded Cameron (always the crafty mom at Price) that "someone was an even bigger suck-up than her" for baking all the kids cookies on the first day, but I think I was just jealous that I never think of such things. Jarrah was most excited that they had "TWO recesses!" and the fact that I remembered I'd promised her a Slurpee after her first day of school. She also said "Do you think you could not be the LAST MOM THERE tomorrow?" Um, I'll make an effort.

She said she wasn't even tired. That makes one of us. I could use a long nap and a focused meditation that reassures me I still have some purpose in life. Seriously, I've felt underwater all day. Does my baby still need me? What's to become of me now?

I mustn't sign off until I acknowledge the dear, dear people who thought of us today and let us know by phone, blog or e-mail. A big shout-out to Mary, Lisa G., Jennifer S., Caroline, Grace, Robyn, Synthia and Melissa E. Your words meant so much to me!


Mrs. Chapman's 2nd Grade Class said...

How exciting!! Jarrah looks like she's about to explode in the last two pictures...and I mean that in a good way. I guess I fell down on my kindergarten consultant job since I didn't mention The Kissing Hand. It really is an amazing book. I have the cookie cutter and always made the cookies for my class on the first day of school. I'm so glad she had a great day. I am sure it will take some getting used to before you aren't so tired anymore...and you may alway be tired. I know I was today! So glad the first day went well!

Anonymous said...

Oh Sam, that one pic of her sailing across campus with her backpack looks like a collegiate brochure pic. She is so grown-up and pretty and I'm not ready and she's not even my daughter! Glad you (mostly) survived the day.

Joan said...

Pleased it went well. May it continue. Looking forward to Jarrah showing us her school. Love, Nanna

Anonymous said...

She's such a big girl! I can't believe it. I'm glad _you_ survived.

Stephanie said...

So glad it went well.

You've felt underwater all day and for me it's been as if there's a bear sitting on my chest all day.

Mary said...

Oh Sammy! I am so sorry that we did not call! It was a crazy and long day!

But, I thought about you guys all day! I loved the post and am so excited for you three.

Don't you worry about that snack bag. It is a good lesson to teach kids. I mess up sooooo much in the classroom and always make a big point of it, so that the kids see that adults are not perfect.

I know The Kissing Hand, but on my turf, we turn to The Runaway Bunny!

I am super proud of her and of you, too! Being a kinder mom is a lot of fun and a lot of emotion!



Anonymous said...

Congrats to her and you for making it through the first big day! It will only get easier every day that comes... And you guys will both adjust to the new sleeping hours I'm sure. Just want to know how you have been threatening her with tardy slips for months? Do you use tardy slips around the house? :) Lix

Heather - The Wanna-be Super Mom said...

OMG...Jarrah is an official kindergartener! Just watching all the big kids head of to their first days of kindergarten is making me freak out...and I have like 3 years left to go. AAAHHH!!!

Jen said...

Aw, congratulations to both of you! I am so happy to hear how well it went. The pix are adorable, too. I'm sorry you've felt underwater all day--you poor dear. But you know what? You've done the best thing you could have done for Jarrah by raising her so well, and the very fact that she's out there in the world now and doing so beautifully means you are a great mommy. :-) And she will ALWAYS need you!

I'm really sorry for not being in touch today to wish you well. I've been totally self-absorbed! Sage starts tomorrow and so I've been totally distracted (made copies of all of my syllabi today and then left them behind; will have to do them all again tomorrow! Etc. etc.). If it makes you feel any better, I can only HOPE that Sage and I would have the kind of non-goodbye you two did. I am dreading the opposite, which has its own kind of pain, believe me. :-)

Good luck with the new sleep/morning regimen, too. xoxo

The Wades said...

You did it! (I know how hard it is--three down and one to go.) It's such a relief to see them at the end of the first day. Sadly though, they never give enough scoop on all the happenings.

Jarrah looks so precious in her impromtu outfit. What a beautiful girl she is. :) Congratulations on surviving. And to think, just a few short months ago you were agonizing over which school. I guess it all works out in the end, huh? I just need to keep telling myself these things.

Hugs, my friend.