the first days of school. ever.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Whew!  We've made it through the first week of school....ever, and so far are living to tell about it.  Don't mind my melodrama over here, but seriously, thank goodness we've come out the other side of that tunnel.

We started Grey's school year (our first ever as parents) on my 32nd birthday with Kindergarten registration.  The rest of the school district went about their regular first day of school while the kindergarteners (ahem, their parents) got to ease into it.  Grey was so thrilled he could barely stand himself that morning.  My Dad came up to stay with the girls (thank you!) while B and I spent the morning at registration.

We got to meet Greyson's teacher, and get lots of great info and calendars (so many calendars, right?  lunch menu, snack calendar, district events calendar, yeesh), and even got to have lunch together.  I did great (as Brandon says) and didn't cry outright at any point.  Inside blubbering mess, but not on the outside - yay me! Definitely never feeling sad about it, just so so excited and also like, holy cow how was he just this little tiny babe and now spending huge parts of the day on his, 'hope you do all the things we've been practicing for the past five years, buddy!'  gulp, gulp, gulp.  Here's a perfect explanation of how I felt in article form that my friend Tara shared with me (thank you!!)

The following day was Greyson's 'first day,' like get on the bus-glass box of emotion for momma - first day.  Greyson was still feeling really excited and  happy and when the bus pulled up, he practically flew (actual off the ground floating) and hopped up on like a champ.  It pulled away and I finally let all that pent up excited/nervous/disbelief/happiness spill out in several (ahem) tears and semi-silent sobs.

Then Gemma walked over to Brandon and I and sobbed, "I'm sad!!!" To which I replied, 'me too, baby."  We decided we both wanted Greyson to "stay home and play with us," but after several hugs from Daddy, his girls pulled it together and continued on with our day.  #dadprobs

That first day at bus pick up time, we made it a family affair (both dogs included!) and met Grey while he sprinted off the bus joyously.  And it continued in this manner (minus the dogs and sometimes Daddy at drop off and pick up) for about another day. And then, the crying began.

And it continued for fourteen days.  TWO full weeks of daily crying (before and after school) from Grey about not wanting to go to school. I'm sharing this because, real life, friends.  As most things in life, the start of school for our family went nothing like I had imagined and well then, you adjust and figure it out.  Which is what we tried to do.  

I'm' a problem solver at the core of me (one of my favorite responses to my family, "don't come at me with your problems, honey, show me the solutions") so I tackled Grey's school worry with all sorts of methods.  
We tried to be encouraging: talking about how much he's learning, asking about new friends, making a big deal over homework and classroom book choices.  
We tried understanding and giving him space to understand his feelings were normal by talking about our own school worries and reading supportive books:  The Kissing Hand , The Invisible String , Pocket Mommy , and Wemberly Worried .  
We tried to be loving by giving him trinkets to take with him to remind us that we were still with him (a necklace of Brandon's when he was a kid, a note with stick figure versions of me and Grey, a marker-drawn heart on his hand).  
We tried to learn more:  I spoke to his teacher at Open House to get her thoughts, I talked to my family and all my friends sending their kids to school.  
We tried giving him extra attention at home:  reading books at night in our bed together, having solo breakfast together.  
And we tried to be no-nonsense too:  "Grey!  There is no getting out of school, we are going to keep doing this every weekday until May...and then every schoolyear until you're eighteen; we got a long way to go here, Buddy."  and "All of your friends are going to school every morning, same as you, and I've talked to their Mommies, honey, and none of them are crying about it!"  

Suffice to say, it was incredibly emotionally taxing.  I wanted to feel like he was 'okay,' but it was also like, "Dude, you're not the only one in this family."  (which I may have said aloud to him during the no-nonsense bit).  

So, after all that, no-nonsense method seemed to strike a chord with him (he is an Aries after all who gets most motivated at the hint of competition) and a combination of becoming more comfortable in his class (figuring out how he fit among a group of twenty kids) and making actual strides in learning new things (letter sounds, word blending! number sense!)  It has been a huge relief for Brandon and I that it feels like 'we made it' somehow through that totally unexpected and very whiny phase.  

Now that Grey is comfortable going to school, we're working on the next phase of figuring this whole thing out which is learning about balancing what feels like us and also running on a third party clock.  The mornings seem to be getting there - although I'd still like to wake up a little bit earlier to have a solid half hour before anyone else wakes up (these dark mornings though have me struggling to get out of bed).  And the afternoon routines need some kinks worked out yet for snack, homework, free play, and making dinner - not to mention any activities or plans we might have scheduled for the evenings.  Ugh, still working on that.  Some evenings, I look at the clock and think, 'omigosh, it's time for bed and we still have baths, homework, and dinner clean up to do!?'

And the homework! Which I am currently photocopying each day because obviously Gemma needs to work on 'her homework' too while Grey does his.  He loves to be in charge, so it works out that he gets to 'teach' her in the process too (double practice for him!)

And it's great to see some run-off of Grey's enthusiasm for learning trickle down to Gemma.  Grey is pretty self-motivated to learn new things (he's like his mumma), but our Gemmi Ro is wired a little differently and needs to also have meaning or emotion attached to things before she's invested in doing well at something.  She knows all her colors, can count to twenty, knows her ABCs - but she just doesn't care if she gets it right every time.  Like no big deal if she just called that blue cup a yellow cup.  Getting the color right is just not that important to her heart/brain.  It's such a foreign concept to my own brain that it can be incredibly frustrating (for me!).  But Grey's learning seems to be inspiring her.  I'll take what I can get, you guys.  

And the girls and I are learning more about what it means to be home just the three of us, while Grey is at school.  It is a lot less loud - we still have those high pitched screams and shrills, but over the general sense of the day it is more quiet.  And more gentle too.  So far it's been baby doll playing and book reading by the boatloads over here.  Board games, dancing, and dress up time too.  It is fun getting to see the two of them in their own special little lights that I am so grateful to be able to do.

We're working on our own little routines together too.  Chores, baking cookies, and giving Gemma and Violet more opportunities to choose our activities at home.  We're trying to work out how naptime looks for Gem - giving her an opportunity to have alone time (choosing her own Netflix show - miraculous for her as the little sister!) and getting me some alone time (hello blog and reading!)  Last week, Gemma started her Preschool Storytime class which is a fun way for us get in special projects, read new books, and make new friends!

So, we're working towards feeling like we've got our groove back now that school is a thing we do.  In the next week or two, I'll also be adding volunteering in Greyson's class once a week to help with guided reading, which will add even more routine to our week.

We're getting there.  slowly, but all together.

**some affiliate links included.  thank you for supporting Team Studer.


  1. I loved this post. I loved your honesty and the glimpse into your new "normal". I'm so glad that Grey is doing well now, and you deserve the good confetti for getting through that harrowing two weeks!!! Hugs, mama!!!

  2. First child in school is the worst, but you get joy and excitement out of all the new things they learn and really get to see them become more like who they are meant to be. It will become routine before you know it. Just a warning - When you start counting by school years time flies!