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.”

I’d love to volunteer! Actually GOTTA GO

Am I a PTA mom? This is the existential life question I’m facing.

Of all the stereotypes I’ve been in my life, the suburban-mom one has hit me the hardest. I’m not sure why.

It’s all choices I want: house, yard, kids, dog (dead now, but he was great). Yet moms talking about arts and crafts still makes me feel cringey. Makes me want to pack up my family and backpack around the world for a year. Or a summer. Or whenever everyone uses a toilet.

Two more weeks and BB graduates from pre-k. One more summer and she’s off to kindergarten with 180 of her closest friends. It’s a school with 10 kindergarten classes. I can’t wrap my head around that.

In April there was a FB post about a PTA meeting for her future school. April Jessica was fully vaccinated and signing up for everything.

The PTA emails me back,

“You’re welcome to attend, but if you wanted to wait until our June meeting, there may be more that pertains to incoming kindergarteners.”

Good plan. I wait. The June meeting comes along. Should I go? My calendar is filling up, but I’m eager for as much information about school as possible.

I take my suburban-mom self to the meeting. They need help with next year’s book fair. My hand shoots up.

Maybe I’ll never volunteer for anything again, but I have a hard time saying no to books. They continue,

“Could we train a parent to use the cash register this year?”

“I’m great with a cash register.”

Everyone stares at me. If I can make change for incoherent, drunk adults, I’m confident I can make change for book-loving five-year-olds.

It’s very nice to have face time with the principal and vice-principal. Maybe reason enough to go to the meetings. The vice-principle mentions,

“All the supplies are in for the science kits, we just need to assemble them.”

One of the women in charge volunteers,

“We can stay and help you.”

OH DEAR. This is testing my resolve. I stay. I start assembling kits. How long do I need to stay? I make it through one package of straws, 2 straws per kit. I grab my bag, yell nice to meet everyone and make one of the most awkward exits of my life. Followed by a great sense of relief that I’m no longer assembling science kits.

I send the requested follow-up email to confirm my interest in helping with the book fair. I haven’t heard back yet.