Wednesday, September 16, 2009


My little girl started school today. With her ladybug backpack and lunch bag, her unicorn top and socks, she marched through the door to Junior Kindergarten and into a new world of learning.

Like any mom, I have no idea where the time went. People tell you when you become a parent to savour every moment because the time flashes past in a heartbeat. During the first years, it's a sleep deprived, tantrum infused blur. My little girl has an aversion to sleep, and it's been a tough battle dragging her out of bed earlier and earlier to prepare her for this morning. It's been challenging...on both of us non-morning people.

I made sure that my daughter was socially ready for school. She was very timid when she was small, so I put her in summer camp and a pre-school program so that she would have more social skills than her mother did when I started school. I also wanted her to become familiar with the concept that she is not the only sun in the universe. We're still working on that one. The teacher's comment at the end of the day today was "holy moley, she likes to get her own way." My response was "um yeah, we're working on that."

I had a couple of worries as she headed off to school-body functions and food. She's been toilet trained 3 times-once at 2 1/2 until she broke her leg in 2 places and couldn't GET to the bathroom by herself for 2 months and by the time she could again she'd forgotten how. The second time was at age 3, until she pitched a sustained hissy fit when summer camp ended and regressed to peeing her pants again. We're working on this latest one, and she left a puddle in the living room yesterday... a couple of times. She came home in the same clothes I sent her in this morning. I'll take it. Yesterday, we went through 6 changes of clothes. I suspect it will be some time before I stop crossing my fingers as I send her off in the morning.

The eating was a big concern. My daughter is a grazer, and given her druthers, it takes her most of the day to eat her lunch...if she eats at all...which she sometimes doesn't do, which leads to meltdowns. It was such a big concern that I sent her off to her first day of school with shrimp in her lunch. Yes, shrimp. She will devour them, and thanks to the gods who invented gel pack cups, she had shrimp that kept cold until lunch. I also tucked in a pudding, some ham, a cheese string, some crackers, cookies, chocolate milk and an apple. The crackers and cookies came back home, because she forgot that I'd put her snacks in her backpack and her lunch in her lunch bag. She ate all the heathy stuff, so it's all good. She can cope and listen much better when she eats.

I know she has some challenges ahead. Strong willed, independent people and structured authority are not symbiotic. I know she will do well in the structured environment because she likes to know what she is doing and when. I also know that she has some tough lessons to learn about having her own way. We've tried to teach her and now we will support and partner with her teacher.

I didn't cry as I sent her off, although my husband was blinking his eyes suspiciously. I confess I drove by the school on my way home from an appointment just to see how she was doing. It was lunch time, and the children were outside. I could see my little girl, playing on the periphery but keeping an eye on everything. That's what she does in new situations. I also saw some children engaging with her which encouraged me. There's some residual timidness there, but there's nothing wrong with being timid and shy. It will change soon enough when she gets comfortable.

She goes three full days next week, and that will be the test by the end of the week.

I wish my little girl the same joy in learning that I've always had. I've tried to prep her by telling her how much fun school can be, and how exciting learning new things is. I've tried my best to lay the framework for a lifetime of learning, and I will continue to partner with her teachers. I won't always have the answers, but I will do my best to find them. I still love to learn, and there's a whole bunch of things I don't know, although I've already bought a Math Dictionary. You can never be too prepared.

Time for chocolate chip cookies and milk. It's the perfect way to end a school day, don't you think?


Janet Jarrell said...

What an adorable stage this is. This post is mushy in all the right places. I loved these early development stages - your daughter sounds wonderful. This world can use a strong dose of her female confidence!

Full days must be tough - and long - why did we ever divert from 1/2 days for these wee ones?

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.

Heather said...

Darn, we were both so tired at the end of this milestone today, we forgot about the cookies and milk I'd promised! We did manage to cuddle before bed --since there's no time for morning cuddles any more! Well said, Lisa. Thanks so much for sharing. We'll raise our milk glasses to you and your daughter tomorrow!