Coffee Chat: Mary’s First Week of School

It’s been about a month since my 5-year-old officially became a kindergartner. As much as I would like to say that I was fully prepared for this transition, I was not emotionally ready for the relationship changes between us.

For some reason, I thought this school year was going to be like the preschool ones before it. I’d get a “Love you!” and a quick hug at drop-off and then chat about his day afterwards on our way home. Yeah, I didn’t get any of that.

Instead, I had a kid who just popped out of the car in morning and stayed quiet on our walk from the bus stop in the afternoon. Like, what was happening?

Although I knew that his silence was most likely just him processing everything from his school day, it was still a hard pill to swallow. It’s the realization that my kiddo is growing up and these moments of connection with him were shifting.

Other changes also started taking place, like his mood swings. He started becoming irritable in the afternoons, frustrated if things weren’t going his way, had frequent emotional outbursts, etc. OT Mary recognized that this could be due to the new demands of school, challenging his physical and mental endurance required to get through the day. He’s tired, but he doesn’t know what to do about it. But as much as I could justify it, Mom Mary couldn’t let the negative behavior fly.

Then something interesting happened. His teacher had called to discuss how he’s been doing for his first two weeks at school. At first, I was nervous, assuming it was bad news regarding his behavior. I mean, if he’s like this at home, how’s he at school and why else would a teacher call? Millennial-thinking, right?

In fact, it was the opposite. She wanted to tell me that he’s doing great. *insert jaw drop* He’s making friends, participating in class, following the rules, and that he’s a joy to have in class. Such a relief.

During bedtime that night, we had an honest conversation. He said that he really enjoys school and started telling me all about his classmates, new friends, and what he’s been learning in class. I told him that I was happy he was sharing his day with me, but was curious why he’s been so quiet when we had so much communication before. My suspicions were confirmed: he was exhausted from his day and needed time to process and chill out.

Something else I overlooked was that our morning routine also had to adjust from getting to school at 9am to now by 7:40am. His body and brain wasn’t used to that yet. Our talk allowed us to come up with a game plan about how much chill-out time he needed (30 minutes at the moment) and going to bed earlier to get enough sleep. With these new parameters in place, things have found a new normal. Well, sort of.

Yes, I AirTagged my kid…

Our county has a bus driver shortage. Their system also had a typo in my kid’s student ID number. All of this makes tracking his bus on the county-wide bus app way too unpredictable for me. After waiting for 30+ minutes from the expected bus arrival time in the first 2 weeks, you’d freak out too. Also keep in mind that our county requires all kids first grade and younger to have an adult with them at each bus drop off and pickup.

We are currently handling the student ID issue but until then, I purchased an Apple AirTag to maintain my sanity. Say what you want, but I feel more at ease knowing that he’s on the bus and headed my way.

Now that we’ve fallen into a new routine with one kid, it’s about to change again. The girls start preschool today!

Their meet-and-greet with their teachers went as expected with lots of screams from being in a new environment with unfamiliar faces. Luckily, they were able to settle and separate from me as long as they knew I was around. I’m happy they’ll have each other for their first preschool year to help with the transition, but we’ll see how it goes.

Here’s to the new school year! May it be a good one.

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