It’s the fourth day of this wild experiment called dropping off part of your heart for six hours a day and hoping it survives.
I think my oldest is the kind of kid who does well in school. He is, for the most part, a rule follower. And school has lots of rules. He likes routine; knowing what to expect, and school is generally good for that.
But there’s this tiny matter of it being all day. And that has taken some getting used to. Before I had a kid in school full-time, I’d listen to mothers complain about how they had to drag their kids out of bed and what a nightmare the morning ‘get-breakfast-and-dressed-and-out-the-door-on-time’ ritual was.
I thought to myself, ‘my kids must be different. They wake up at the crack of dawn, I never have to wake them up.’ Which, before today, was true. But I can see now that there is something utterly exhausting about having to sit at a desk and follow rules and navigate scary social situations that still give most adults nightmares.
For six and a half hours, straight.
On the Gort’s second day of Grade 1, he came home. I fed him peach crisp in an attempt to get him to spill the beans about school. It worked, sort of, though it required intense concentration on my part to have a semi-focused conversation with him while two other little people went about their (loud) business in the same room. Afterwards, he fell asleep. And slept for three hours. Right through dinner. I feared he was sick. But, he finally woke up just before bedtime, eager to join me and the Hen on a trip to the playground.
I picked him up from school yesterday and, after he was safely ensconced in his booster seat, I asked him what had been the best part of his day. ‘I like sitting at my desk,’ he offered, ‘but I don’t like recess.’ Actually, he might have said ‘I hate recess,’ but I can’t remember now. Also, I’m trying to wean him from his sudden fondness for the word ‘hate’.
‘Why don’t you like recess,’ I asked. ‘Because I feel lost,’ he explained. My heart hurt. And it took all kinds of willpower to refrain from saying ‘yes, I know, school sucks, why don’t you just hang out with me for another year.’ Oblivious to my inner dialogue, he nattered on, ‘but I found a buddy today, so that was good.’
I could tell from his phrasing that the teacher must have instructed them to ‘find a buddy’ during recess time. ‘That’s great,’ I tried to encourage, ‘tomorrow I want you to find a buddy again. Because, you know, all the other first graders feel lost, too.’
We arrived home and began the process of re-integrating him into the household. It’s amazing how much easier it is to keep the house looking tidy when there are just two kids at home. And one of them still naps twice a day. With the addition of the Gort, chaos returns. And brotherly love is tested to its limits.
What happens when you put one un-napped, in the throes of potty training three year old and one worn out and confused six year old in the same room for four hours? Constant weeping and gnashing of teeth, that’s what.
By 7.30 last night, all three kids were in bed, fast asleep. And at 7 this morning, the baby was the only one who showed any interest in getting up. I couldn’t believe the older boys were still asleep. ‘You need to wake up,’ I whispered to my oldest. ‘I can’t, I’m too tired,’ he mumbled. ‘You have to, we have to leave in thirty minutes.’
He lifted the covers and stepped out of bed. ‘I wish I was still in Kindergarten,’ he sighed.