The things in life you need to know you learn as kindergarten parents

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

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Before we started our life-long school journey with The Eldest back in September, I took a shot at predicting the tips we’d need to survive our first year of formal schooling. I insisted it was important to do things like getting a haircut and buying back-to-school supplies for yourself. I also went as far as to suggest there might be leather-clad upper-year parents who’s good side it was imperative to get on.

Well we’re days away from a wrap on Year One and next year I’ll be one of the leather-clad parents. So, I’m going to start early and give you a few tips for how to survive Year One before we’re even done Year One. Because really, planning begins now.

You’re going to cry

You could have a tear deficiency or lack tear ducts altogether and still cry when your child goes off for their first day. You’ll latch onto them for as long as you can that day, probably even dressing in an adult-sized Pokemon shirt in hopes you’ll blend in enough to buy yourself a couple more classroom minutes with them. You’ll cry with pride as your child takes off their too-big backpack and hangs in in their cubby and you’ll cry in amazement as your child effortlessly makes a new friend on the alphabet rug in the middle of the classroom. You’re also likely to cry when the teacher uses the “I’m only going to tell you one more time” method to get you into your car to drive to work for the day.

There will be no Christmas play, don’t wish for it

The only reason I chose to put my children into the public schooling system was to get to watch a Christmas play (maybe not the only). This year I bought 18 tickets to the play because I wanted to take up the entire front row so I could go from seat to seat giving my daughter a standing ovation for her role as candle carrier in A Christmas Carol. Only the 18 tickets weren’t purchased from the school, they were purchased from my own wishful thinking store. There was no Christmas play and there were no standing ovations. I was broken-hearted. You will be too when you miss the (insert your religious affiliation or non-affiliation here) play.

You’ll get to know a lot of other parents. You’ll call them all (insert child’s name)’s mom or dad

In all the pick-ups and drop-offs of my kids over the past nine months, I’ve talked to a lot of parents. Some of them of older kids, some of them of kids the exact age of The Eldest. I’ve even had some of those parents attend birthday parties we’ve organized and have been to a few organized by them. I know the first name of precisely one of them. I also know Boy’s dad, Girl’s mom, Other Boy’s dad and mom, Older Girl, Old Girl and Younger Girl’s grandparents and The Kid My Daughter Builds Castles With’s dad. I’m on a nod and smile basis with all of them and many others. I repeat, I know the first name of one of them.

You don’t need to buy sand any more

When The Eldest turned two we made sure she had a sand table she could play with in the summer months because everyone knows sand is a top 10 thing to play with. We bought a sand/water table and a big bag of tropical sand from a department store to fill it with. Over the years all the sand has been tossed out of the table by way of dump truck, water squirter (yep) or raspberry pie tins (shovels). We were on the verge of buying more tropical sand until The Eldest came home from her first day of school and took of her shoes. In three weeks we were able to fill the sand portion of the sand/water table with sand from her schoolyard. In six weeks, we had filled both sides. By the time the snow came we had added a beach to the backyard. Don’t ever buy a bag of sand again. Just send your kids to school with a roomy pair of running shoes.

Don’t set the expectation you’ll order books every book order

It’s no secret I love reading and love that my kids are into books. So it likely also comes as no surprise that the first time a book order form came home in The Eldest’s schoolbag, I jumped at the opportunity and we bought five or six French books. The Eldest was so excited when they arrived that the next time a book order form came in her bag she asked for 12. The next time 24. Exponentially we were becoming very, very poor. “These books can be purchased second hand for one tenth the price,” I thought to myself. “These books will make me so happy,” The Eldest said with her eyes. We’ve ordered many times more. You’ve been warned.

You can dress like the opposite gender and be a hit in your child’s classroom on Halloween

Daddy Daughter clothesI did this and I just wanted to take another opportunity to tell that to the whole world (or the world that reads my stuff at least). It was one of my favourite parenting moments to date–me dressed as my daughter and she dressed as me, both together in her classroom playing Halloween games as her classmates made fun of my wig. We played toss the pretend pumpkin, we drew pictures of black cats and we pretty much just misbehaved. I was in charge of the only group that had t be asked to quiet down and I’m proud of that. I’d do it again. And again. And again.

Get involved in your child’s classroom if the opportunities present themselves. The smiles you’ll find on the faces of all the kids are worth it. The smile you’ll see on your own child’s face is priceless.

You’ll realize you’re not going to be smarter than your kid in three more years

At first it’s cute when your child comes home spouting all this new information. They tell you how the sun works, they speak simple words in different languages and they start talking about the patterns they’ve found in everyday life. Then you’ll realize you don’t know how the sun affects the earth and you start to wonder “does it take the earth 365 days to go around the sun or is it the other way around?” You’ll answer their simple other language words with simple other language words of their own but then they’ll tell you you’re using your words incorrectly. Worst of all, you’ll remember you have no idea how to do long division. But your child will know.

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