Magically I’ve got a kindergartener! It’s long, but sweet

Kindergarten check! BB is on cloud nine. Fishy Wishy is ready to repeat pre-k and I’m looking for my sanity. It’s gotta be around here somewhere.

Back in June when Flippy first came home, before we even had time to rename him, I was already thinking to myself,

‘It would be amazing if I manage to keep him alive. Then at the end of the summer I could send the text message, “When’s Flippy’s first day of school?”‘

A week ago I got to send that message. It felt as good as I imagined. I got a message back reassuring me that if we’d grown attached, we could keep him.

No. No. And no. At that point BB was running around in RB’s diapers and I just couldn’t handle wondering if Flippy was depressed or if this was the morning I’d find him belly up.

At the Cape there was talk of setting him free, never mind that he’s a fresh water fish. My beach buddy pointed out,

“Oh no, you can’t do that, he’d be like ‘Where are my flakes?'”

If Flippy doesn’t make it through his second year of pre-k, it won’t be on my watch. I’ve had about all I can do to keep track of the kindergarten schedule.

First there was the playground playdate and practice bus ride. There were 80 kids on the playground and BB went to the swings 100 feet away, all by herself.

I had promised myself ahead of time that I’d follow BB’s lead and not push too hard on the being around other people thing.

Then lo and behold, BB returned from her solitary swinging and suggested we go find some kids in her class. I spotted one standing with her parents. Worth a shot.

There must’ve been some magical, unicorn, fairy, kindergarten dust in the air. The girls took off around the playground. A little while later we lined up for the practice bus ride. BB’s new friend asked,

“Do you want to sit together?”

At which point BB held out her hand. They boarded arm in arm and while I had expected to get teary eyed when BB left for her official first day, I did NOT expect to cry for the PRACTICE bus ride. But I did.

BB had an amazing time. The behavior at home continued to deteriorate. Captain was at a loss. He kept saying,

“What is going on?”

“Kindergarten is starting soon.”

“Right but-“

“No that’s it. I guarantee it.”

I mean I didn’t know for sure sure, but it sure seemed unlikely she’d go to school in her baby sister’s diapers. We just had to get through 5 more days of reverse potty training.

BB threw multiple tantrums because she wanted to pee in the diaper, but couldn’t. And not that I said she couldn’t, just that she’s so used to going in a toilet, or outside, that she couldn’t relax enough to go in the diaper. It took her a few days, but by T-minus 3 days until kindergarten she was peeing in diapers again.

BB went for a school tour joined at the hip with her new friend. Then there was a 2-hour, drop-off, practice day. The class was divided in half by the alphabet. There must’ve been more of that magical kindergarten dust, because BB and her new friend’s last names fell into the same group.

Getting emotional over the practice bus ride should’ve been a warning to me, but I approached the practice day as if I’m not someone who can cry over a Budweiser commercial. BB’s kindergarten teacher held out her hand to introduce herself and I started to cry.

I made sure BB didn’t see. She waved goodbye and trotted off.

She may be a clone of Captain, but the one expression of my genetics might be BB’s adventuresomeness.

Two hours later I return and learn that not only did BB have a wonderful time, but she used the bathroom. And for someone who spent a large part of the summer refusing to use public restrooms, peeing outside and most recently returning to diapers. This was a very, very good sign.

Then the real deal. The first day of kindergarten. The only day I thought I’d actually cry. BB was super excited, then a little quiet. I was so focused on the logistics, and taking photos, that the tears barely came.

8:10am. How is it possible that I won’t know anything until she gets off the bus at 3:30pm?

Preschool would’ve texted a photo by 8:12am. I check my phone. I remind myself that if BB decides not to talk, she has all of her identifying info pinned to the front of her dress.

I check my phone again. I don’t know what I’m waiting for, but I check my phone again. And again. The next 7 hours would’ve been a variation of this same theme if it weren’t for my amazing neighbor throwing a “First Day of School, MOMosa brunch.”

It saved my sanity. And magically, however many mimosas later, it was time to welcome home my kindergartener.

Captain and I hovered on the corner. I obsessively refreshed the bus tracking app. It was making very slow progress. At least ten minutes late. As it appeared on the horizon, I stood camera ready, then the bus knocked over a neighbor’s basketball pole.

Keep driving! Where’s my baby? The driver stops, gets out, assesses the damage, decides to drive the remaining block to us.

BB bounces off the bus. She couldn’t be in a better mood. She’s full of stories and tales of eating vegetables at lunch. A unicorn of a day.

What a relief. I offer her help with something, I can’t even remember what and she rolls her eyes at me,

“Mom, I’m not a baby.”

The class fish is home for the summer

BB’s class fish is staring at me. We’re calling him Fishy-wishy. Formerly known at Flippy.

Back in September there was a class vote to name their two fish. BB had her heart set on Fishy-wishy. I don’t know if she’d spell it with a hyphen, but considering Fishy-wishy depends on me for food now, I’ll punctuate at will.

The two fish were named Flipper and Flippy. Flipper didn’t make it. Tough school year for anybody. Flippy did.

A group text went out to the pre-k families:

“Who wants Flippy for the summer?! We promise not to hold you accountable if the worst should happen.”

YES! We have no dog, no cat, no bunny, no chickens, some bugs (uncontained), some mice (very elusive), why not a fish?

And as always, the gloriousness of Captain working right next to the kitchen is that I can burst in unannounced anytime a text moves me.

“Read this! Should we take the fish?!”

“Do we know what’s involved with taking care of a goldfish? I’d figure that out first. Maybe call a pet store?”

Sigh. Of course he’d recommend research. Google is not promising. Looks like more effort than I’m interested in.

At pick-up I ask BB’s teacher,

“What’s involved with taking care of the goldfish?”

“Oh it’s not a goldfish! It’s a tiny little thing. I feed it and change the water a couple times a month.”

“I can do that!”

BB is not sold. She asks,

“What happens if he dies?”

“We’ll bury him in the backyard or flush him down the toilet.”

“I don’t want Flippy.”

Bad time for dead-fish jokes. I backpedal,

“He could die on anyone’s watch. We might as well enjoy him while we can.”

By the time Fishy-wishy comes home, BB is ready for him to sleep with her.

I insist that he needs to live next to the coffee maker. Things that are in the kitchen are more likely to get fed on a regular basis.

Before this I would’ve said a fish is the last pet I’m interested in. That may still be true, but faced with no pets and a limited two-month engagement, maybe shorter, Fishy-wishy was irresistible.

I may also be holding on to all things pre-k. Where’d baby BB go? She’s DESPERATE to be five. On the playground she informs a random kid,

“I’m four and three quarters, but I wear size five clothes.”

She “graduates” today and last day is tomorrow. Fishy-wishy, formerly known as Flippy, came home yesterday. BB says,

“If anyone from Fishy-wishy’s old life is around, we’ll call him Flippy.”

Last night, as I prep this morning’s coffee, Fishy-wishy stares at me. I stare at him. Is he happy? Does he mind being all alone? Is this small container humane treatment of a fish?

What is going on with me? I expected to be: Fish is alive? Good. Fish is dead? Move on.

I really REALLY didn’t expect to be consumed with personifying Fishy-wishy. But here he is, staring at me while I try to write and I can’t help but ponder his quality of life.

He gets to spend his summer at the beach, watching us eat his brethren, so maybe he’ll just be grateful to be alive. As long as that may last.