Preschool has begun. Before this, I had a vague understanding that the start of the school year meant parents got more time to themselves, because hey, the kids aren’t home, right?
We’ve been adjusting to the new routine, figuring out who’s taking drop-off and pick-up duty on which days, trying to get Owl to bed earlier (and also out of bed in the mornings), learning how to get to school on time (the parking situation is… not straightforward).
A couple days before school started, I took a Sharpie and labeled all of Owl’s clothes, shoes, underwear, jackets, hats, and her backpack (I skipped socks; it didn’t seem worth it).
The night before school, I attended the monthly parents’ meeting.
On the first morning, Owl seemed nervous, but willingly gave me a hug and let me leave once she was hand-in-hand with her teacher and clutching a book called The First Day of School (nice choice, Owl!). She came home very happy and full of questions and remarks.
That first weekend, we left Owl with my parents and attended a mandatory orientation for working parents (it’s a co-op school), during which we learned everything from the location of the laundry hamper to emergency evacuation procedures.
That Sunday morning, Owl came down with hives for the first time in her life, starting at her ankles and eventually spreading to her face. She missed two days of school and I had to figure out the procedure to find a substitute for my first work day. I couldn’t find one in time, and ended up going to my first work day on a day my kid was absent. I came home sloshed in washing water from several sinkfuls of art supplies (my waistband did not dry out until dinnertime), and exhausted from the new experience. I pretty much slumped unmoving on an armchair the whole rest of the day.
The day after that, Owl returned to school, still puffy-faced from the hives, and cried and clung when I said goodbye.
The day after that, she allowed one of the working parents to help her see me off. The other mom had Owl push me out the door, which gave her some agency in our separation and left her grinning as I walked out the gate.
And soon it was another weekend, and Owl developed a cold, complete with runny nose and coughing. I kept her home from school yet again.
Today she came with me for my second work day, this time on playground duty. I didn’t find it as completely draining as art duty, even though: Owl stayed close to me, complaining that I didn’t focus on her; I stuck my hand full into a spiderweb; I got distracted and fell down a level of the play structure, luckily crashing into an enclosing wall (rather than falling off and landing humiliatingly in the tanbark!).
So, far from an oasis of peace and quiet, the beginning of school has been more like a small tornado! But it has been interesting, (perhaps too) exciting, and rather humbling. I’m a good parent to Owl, and can even handle her with a bunch of other kids we know well (her cousins and friends). But dealing with two dozen new kidquaintances — half of them second-years who know the school better than I do, at least two of them with special needs, one set of twins, a few prone to crying or separation sadness — has really shown me how much I still have to learn about kids’ needs and social dynamics. It’s going to be a big learning year for all of us!