Collapsing beneath the weight of kindergarten details

Lily making a "family tree" banner at a school picnic, where - wait for it - I got MORE forms that I didn't read until the night before her first day of kindergarten. Mommy FAIL.

Lily making a “family tree” banner at a school picnic, where I got even MORE forms that I didn’t read until the night before her first day of kindergarten. Mommy FAIL.

I stand on the cusp of a big day in my life as a parent – Lily’s first day of kindergarten – and I’ve been tossing and turning in bed for a few hours now.

This stems, at least in part, from my usual half-assedness. After Lily fell asleep, I skimmed through the bulk of what has been a growing stack of school-related packets and forms, including a calendar of daily activities to do with your child over the summer to prepare her academically for kindergarten (oops!).

And while this last oversight could be forgiven – Lily will shoulder the worldly burden of homework soon enough, so why not let her enjoy a carefree summer? – what’s less forgivable is the realization that, because we’re all so susceptible to the trap of our own experiences and memories, neither her transportation nor her sustenance has been arranged.

Yes, because I so vividly remembered just walking up my street to get picked up by a bus (no registration with the transportation department required), and bringing either my usual peanut butter sandwich/apple bag lunch or cash for hot lunch, I assumed, in the back of my little head, that things would be that simple for Lily, too.

They’re not, of course.

To set up a school account for hot lunches, I needed to have sent a check in the mail to a place in the next town, or used a PIN number – which I SHOULD have received via email after registering Lily for school – for an online system that would allow me to make deposits online. (Note to self: add to my harried, bursting to-do list a phone call about getting a PIN number.)

No big deal, Joe countered. We’ll make her a lunch.

But we can’t send her with a peanut butter sandwich, I say. Nothing with nuts can go to school.

Joe starts putting together a lunch consisting of grapes and cheese and a couple of nutrition bars.

Check the label on those bars, I say.

[Expletive], he says.

He removes the bars and thrusts a baggie full of chocolate Cheerios into the Lily’s glittery Rapunzel lunch box.

And even though a friendly neighbor gave me a heads up weeks ago about needing to register a request regarding the bus – we’re officially in walking distance, living about a mile from the school, but a bus happens to come to Lily’s former pre-school, where we’ll still drop off Neve each day, and Lily would like to ride the bus – I kept back-burnering the whole issue, assuming, I guess, that even if I was really pushing it, I could plead pretend-ignorance with the bus driver on the first day.

But now I don’t think that’s going to fly, frankly.

So I’ve prepped Lily for this setback, telling her that because Mommy’s been late with some paperwork, she may have to wait until next week or so to start riding the bus. And I’ll do the same in the morning when she inquires about her lunch.

Even so, we got the fun stuff mostly squared away. She wrote a letter to the school principal, describing the best book she read this summer; she drew a picture of her favorite place to read; she has her new crayons, scissors, backpack, and a plastic envelope for daily reports. (But the 4×6 photo of our family? In-progress. We had to track one down, first of all, and then determine that we’d go to the nearby CVS in the morning, before school, to print it out. Oy.)

A little after 11 p.m., I gave up on absorbing everything in the packets and went to bed, figuring, it’s just kindergarten, we’ll all survive this change, right?

Yet while tossing around in our sheets, I couldn’t flick off the switch in my mind. I mentally mapped out how I would walk or bike her to school after the bus driver turned us away. I remembered, oh, yeah, she’s supposed to bring gym shoes to keep at school. And a complete change of clothes. And everything is supposed to have her name on it. And no way will I remember all this in the crazy rush of a weekday morning, especially one as fraught as this.

So naturally I creep from our dark room to the stairs, skulk down to Lily’s waiting Barbie backpack, and I label items, and I add things, and I skim more instructions. I put a few dollars in her lunch box, just in case they let her pay for a hot lunch in cash. I write her address and phone on her blue crayon name tag.

Thinking that these small acts may have freed my mind from its anxiety, I head back up to bed.

But then I think, did I put enough money into her lunchbox? How much did lunch cost again? And which of the 2 ways that we can walk to the school is the shortest?

Downstairs I go again. God help me.

After futzing around for a few minutes, I hear a commotion upstairs, so I race up to find that Lily’s had an accident in her bed. Joe and I do our quick-change routine, and I remember something else we’d forgotten: Lily’s teacher had offered, in her classroom, during a “meet the teacher” session, a little packet of “jitter glitter” to all the kids, with an accompanying poem that explained that if you sprinkled glitter under your pillow the night before the first day of school, you’d get a good, restful night’s sleep.

“Do you want me to go get it?” I asked Lily.

She nodded. “Can I help sprinkle it?”

“Absolutely, kiddo.”

So together, we spread the jitter glitter – which is sure to live in those sheets and the floor for years to come, but who am I to argue with kid-magic? – and she went back to sleep.

Here’s hoping that some of that jitter glitter stuck to the grooves of my own fingers. I’ll take any help I can get.

One thought on “Collapsing beneath the weight of kindergarten details

  1. This made me laugh – it IS crazy how involved even kindergarten has become! I have a kindergartener now, too, (and had one last year), and the endless stream of minute to-do’s about killed me.

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