And….They’re Off!

   

Our school year has finally begun!  And not a moment too soon, I think.  I had a difficult time doing much of anything this summer for some reason.  Mike had a hard time picking up the slack because he was under extreme stress from work and worry for the health of his parents.  So the girls had a massively high level of cabin fever and were ready to be among their own people, having recess and music, art and STEAM.  Even if it meant homework and getting up early on purpose.  
 

Our geeklet

Rachael is in 3rd grade, which is insane, and I refuse to accept it.  She’s approaching tweendom, with the rolling of the eyes, the annoyed attitude, and the noticing of boys.  After Back to School Night and Open House, I was a bit concerned over whether Rachael would have a good year.  And by a bit concerned, I mean I was kind of panicking and burst into an ugly cry after we got the girls into bed that night.  I had heard that third grade was a big jump from second grade, but after her teacher’s presentation all I could think was, Oh my god!  This is where the magic of learning comes to die.  I was also completely turned off when her teacher announced that there was no excuse for failing to complete the homework for each night.  After all, if she can teach all day and take classes at night to earn her doctorate, then our families are certainly able to ensure that our children complete their homework.  Look, I don’t have a problem with insisting on homework completion; that’s not the issue here.  Her seemingly myopic view of reality, in which she seemed to preemptively take offense at the notion that we all don’t have our shit together, (because she has hers together) just gets my back up.  Believe it or not, it is actually rather hard to squeeze in time for homework when you only have four hours to do a combination of the following: have a snack and recover from your day; spend time in time out for rolling eyes at mom/talking and/or screaming back; any after-school clubs and activities; dance class; dinner; chores; parents can’t help you read a word in your homework because your younger sister is having a complete meltdown; shower; read before bed.  But, I’m trying to let it go, (obviously, because I’m blogging about it) and hope that this is just a case of a not so great first impression.  Rachael seems to really like her. Also, they’re going to be studying rocks and soil this year, which is totally in Rachael’s wheelhouse, especially after just having gone to geology camp a couple of weeks ago.

I also hope that Rachael will work at establishing some more friendships this year.  Rachael is such a shy introvert that, prior to this year, she’s really only put her time and effort into her one best friend.  Unfortunately, her best friend is going to the gifted and talented elementary school this year.  Rachael will still see and play with her, as they just live around the corner.  She complained last year of feeling lonely.  I have explained to her over and over again that it’s fine to be an introvert, but if you want someone to be friends and want to play with you, you have to put in the effort now.  You actually have to speak to people and try to engage with them.  I asked her if she played with anyone at recess yesterday.  She said no, she did her own thing.  “But, I talked with people at lunch and at my table in class.  Happy?”  This morning, I introduced her to the older brother of Zoë’s new kindergarten best friend.  He is also in third grade, and doesn’t know many people because he has been homeschooled prior to this year.  I figured, he needs a new friend, she needs a new friend, win win win.  Right?  Guys, if the scowls little girls give could kill, I wouldn’t be typing this.  

A little anxious, but ready to go!

In the days leading up to the first day of school, I had never seen Zoë so anxious about anything.  Maybe because it was one of the few times when she managed to put her fears into words, rather than simply acting out.  Oddly enough, she was really focused on worry over not being able to operate the computers and their programs correctly.  I think she felt a bit of relief once we met her teachers and saw her classroom.  Fun fact: although she has a teacher who is new to the school, it’s the same classroom Rachael was in for kindergarten and the same assistant teacher!  I’m thankful for the teacher Zoë has.  She’s been teaching for 20 years, holds degrees in both general and special education, and has four children of her own.  So, just like the Femputer on Futurama, she know what do.  There will be an additional special education teacher in the room to assist Zoë.  While Zoë is fine, academically, for kindergarten, she does have an IEP for ADHD and the social behavioral issues which stem from that disorder.  So we feel like she’s in really good hands and feel good about our decision to send her on to kindergarten.

It was exciting on Back to School Night to find out that a friend from Zoë’s preschool class would be in her class this year!  Zoë was also introduced to another little girl by her teacher that night who, lo and behold, we found at our bus stop yesterday!  They were so excited to see each other!  I know it made Zoë’s apprehensiveness, with regard to riding the bus, lower just a bit.  Once the bus came, Zoë knew the drill and dutifully walked toward the bus steps.  I practically had to grab her in order to kiss her goodbye because she was so focused on her mission.  At the bottom of the steps, she paused and looked up at the driver hesitantly.  With some gentle encouragement from the driver, Zoë almost literally climbed those huge bus steps.  Mike and I watched Zoë and her friend as they tried to figure out where they should sit, finally settling on the seat behind the driver.  And, in all the chaos and focusing on Zoë, Mike and I failed as parents and accidentally didn’t say goodbye to Rachael.  I made sure to give her extra hugs and attention when they got home.

Zoë was exhausted when she came home.  She had had a great first day of kindergarten!  She was terribly excited to have gone to the library and checked out her first book, Silverlicious.  (Okay, I like the Pinkalicious series, but can we all agree that Pinkalicious is a giant brat, and it’s probably because her parents never seem to punish her for bad behavior?)  The class took a tour of the school, under the pretense of looking for the mouse from, If You Bring a Mouse to School.  Zoë giggled as she showed me the movements they learned during the movement activities her class did, forming a potato with her arms over her head, and then peeling the potato one arm at a time.  She made a fish tail with her hands on her lower back and wiggled her toush, demonstrating how the students maintain their personal space in line.  As Zoë chattered on and on about the things they did at school, her new best friend from class and the bus stop, and how she wanted to make a pretend school classroom of her own, it was clear that her anxiety about kindergarten had been dropped on the ground and left behind.  After all, she had better things to do.

Mike told them to make a silly face.

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And she’s off

This morning went off without a hitch! Rachael was antsy and ready to go. Mike and I had a few sniffles. (The rest of mine are pent up in the pit of my stomach.) Zoë was a massive wreck. She wanted to go on the bus with Rachael so badly. So we sang to her the Daniel Tiger song that Rachael will come back. (PBS has raised my children so well.) And when that didn’t work, I promised her we’d go get her own backpack. She’s been stealing Rachael’s and pretending to go to school. Once again, bribery saves the day!

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Spit or wallow?

Who’s having a good day? Good! I’ll fix that in a hurry.

I once read an article which said that people didn’t like being friends with a person on Facebook if the person tended to have negative status updates. I’ve been fussed at before for not being positive enough in a week. Since then, I’ve done my best to avoid being whiny or negative on Facebook. If I am talking about something wrong that’s going on, I try to add in some funny so that it won’t annoy people. Rachael had her third accident today! Just what I wanted. *sigh* She just gets me. I do it in non-virtual life, too. No one likes to hang around people who are mopey and whiny all the time. Hell, I don’t even like to hang out with someone like that. It’s hard enough for me to try and stay in a positive mood. That isn’t to say that I don’t want to know what’s going on in the lives of my friends and family, whatever it may be. But I do have a tendency to bounce new people at the door if they’re bringing drama with them.

That being said, I feel like I need to be whiny about Rachael and kindergarten today once again. Feel free to skip this one and anticipate an upcoming post, by popular demand, on Doritos chocolate truffles. ANTICIPATE IT!

Friday, the day after orientation, was a new day. I was feeling so much better. I figured, I got the good cry out of my system and I’ll just deal with the waterworks again on Tuesday. I was doing my best to keep talk about school very surface. She had a nice rising kindergarten playground, pizza, and Popsicles play group on Friday that left me feel very positive about everything. Yesterday we went to the birthday party of one of Rachael’s best friends and had a wonderful time with our dear friends. So the bitch slap that greeted my face this morning was unexpected and disheartening. I felt in my shoulders, chest, and clavicle area like I had spent the previous night bench pressing 100 pounds. I felt agitated and weak. So I did the only sensible thing and made it worse by cleaning out and organizing my pantry. After that, I made lunch menus for Rachael and picked out recipes and made dinner menus for us. Feeling even more agitated when that was finished, I decided it was best to make the muffins and oatmeal cookies that I had written in on Rachael’s lunch menu. I then proceeded to melt down and run away to my room.

You see, try as I might to ignore or deny the fact that my stomach lurches every time I think about Tuesday, my body still feels it. No matter how I try to stay busy with legitimate and necessary “get ready for school” projects, the stress is still going to travel through my body to tighten my muscles and mess with my serotonin and norepinephrine receptors. It’s one thing to acknowledge the fact that you’re being exceptionally grumpy and impatient today. (And can I just say how wonderfully supportive Mike has been today. He just gets me.) It’s quite another to accept the fact that you’re experiencing a full on depressive mood today and that perhaps the best thing to do is just settle into it, hunker down, and just let the tears come.

I’m not okay

Rachael wanted yogurt for a snack, so I went to fetch her a Chobani Champions yogurt tube from the fridge. It seemed kind of inflated, but I figured I was just misremembering how full they were. Nope. Seriously, talk about contents under pressure. It exploded on me, in my hair, on the floor, the wall, the cabinets, and even on the ceiling. Then, to add insult to injury, it slow jizzed all over my hand. It’s not the yogurt’s fault, though. It was just trying to capture the mood of the day.

We went to open house at Rachael’s kindergarten today. We had received her teacher assignment on Monday, and after Facebook stalking information gathering, I was still a bit worried because I hadn’t been a fan based on the brief interaction I had with her a few months ago. Fortunately, I felt much better after watching her interact with Rachael and having brief conversation with her. Rachael loved the room scavenger hunt, and excitedly bounced from place to place in the room to check everything out. Just like my little girl, she settled herself in the reading area and started flipping through books. Her teacher is pregnant, but not due until January, and will only be out for two months. The teacher subbing for her subbed during her last pregnancy, and has done other long term subbing in the school.
Afterward, we went to the school library. Rachael excitedly wound her way through the maze of bookshelves, marveling at the number of books. They had a small fish tank, and hanging on the wall was a portrait of my principal from when I was in elementary school. (Different school, though. It almost felt like life was coming full circle on me.) As we left, I showed Rachael her very own special door that only the kindergarteners get to use, which thrilled her a little.

So, by all accounts, everything went well and we’re ready to go. But I still came home and shoved three of these cupcakes in my face as I read through the packet of information and completed the forms her teacher had sent home. I think about how Rachael had walked the halls pensively, hands behind her back, taking everything in. She looked so small in those long, towering halls. But I know she’s growing up and she’s ready for this, whether I am or not.

One of the ways I realize that I am stressed or upset is when my body starts to hurt. The psychosomatic manifestations of stress with fibromyalgia are just fanfuckingtastic, let me tell ya. So I knew how bothered I was when my back and neck started throbbing. This afternoon I had a big ole blubbery ugly cry. When it was over, I just felt weak and wanted to take a nap. I probably would have if I didn’t have so many things to do. (I almost feel like I’m nesting today. I want to get things clean and organized so we can start the year with a calm and organized mind. Or, at least, an organized…something.) Instead, I made like Trinity and told myself to get up.

Anyone else starting school for the first time? How are you coping?