This was her year. The year to start pre-k, the year to start the rest of her learning life by going to school every day. Thankfully, she was excited. She couldn’t wait to go to “big school” like her cousin and older friends. We went to pick out a new backpack, we got a few new clothes and we got the back to school haircut.
She was ready.
Me, on the other hand…had a ball of anxiousness in the pit of my stomach the week leading up to it. I knew in my head that taking her to school wouldn’t be a big deal since we have been going to a mother’s day out program since she was one-and-a-half. But in my heart, this just seemed so…big.
Information Day came a few days before the first day and we dropped little brother off with a friend so I could figure out what in the world this life of elementary school was all about. We navigated the parking lot well enough and found the entrance to the school.
And then we were thrown to the wolves.
I really don’t understand why there isn’t a “newbie parent handbook” that is mailed to parents before Information Day. I was greeted at the door by a young girl who told me that if I had a yellow smiley-face to go over to that side of the partition, but if I didn’t, to go to this side. Umm, a what?? I didn’t have a yellow smiley face, I didn’t know how I could even get one, I had just walked in the door and am about to cry since my sweet daughter was about to start a new phase in her life and I’m her mom and this is about to get emotional. So we stood in the line for those without a smiley face, with me barely holding my emotions back because this was it. A new, frantic world that I knew nothing about. Booths were lining the cafeteria (or was it a gym?) of all these things I could sign up for. We got our teacher information, the time we would be attending school and off we went to find her teacher.
Wait, what? Where in the world IS her teacher? Where are the classrooms again? Not wanting to make eye contact with the hordes of booth-watchers, we went back out the way we came. Dead-end. Back in the swarm we went, full of parents who knew what they were doing, laughing merrily to each other. We found another opening and walked hesitantly down that way. Fabulous. This was looking up. Two signs ahead…Kindergarten to the right, 1st through 5th to the left. Where in the world was the Pre-K wing?! Thinking it might be at the end of the Kindergarten hallway, we went to the right. Not seeing any signs of her teacher’s name or anything remotely looking right, I turned around, near tears. Why wasn’t anyone helping me? Why are there NO clear signs for new parents?
A gift in the form of a familiar face helped get us in the right direction. OH okay, pre-K is at the very back of the building. Duh. Because I’m a new parent and I totally knew that. We went back to meet her teacher, who by the way, is fabulous. We spent some one-on-one time talking with her and it calmed my nerves a lot. We got a packet of information, said our “see you next week!”, and thought we were done.
But…I didn’t realize we were supposed to pick up our pre-paid classroom supplies BEFORE we met our teacher. So we stood in line, got our box and back we went to deliver them. But at least this time I knew where to go.
Finally the big day came. We were ready, my hubby came to do the “big drop-off” with me, and we were surprisingly early. I was doing okay, knowing it would be just a few hours until I saw her again. She had her backpack on and was brimming with excitement. Her teacher was waiting outside so we let her go sit with her class. It was a very paparazzi moment with all the parents on the first day, but we were all just so excited and wanted to Instagram the proud parent moment. I told her goodbye, to have a good day and I’d pick her up later.
Who knew the pick-up line would have me in near tears? Not realizing that her class would get out before the rest of the school, or that I didn’t have to wait in the car pick-up line, or that her younger brother woken up from a nap would be screaming the entire time, or that her teacher would call to see if everything was okay…NO, I’m not okay! I’m super late, I don’t know why I’m in this line to pick up my daughter, my other kid is SCREAMING because he was woken up from his nap and I don’t know what I’m doing because there is no information manual for becoming a pre-K parent!
*Deep Breath* After hugging my daughter tightly and promising never to be so late again, we went to get some ice cream to celebrate a semi-successful day. That night, I mentally went over everything and tried to make a plan. I could do this thing called Pre-K. I managed through Information Day, I fist-bumped the first day drop-off, I sucked it up at pick-up but now had a newly formed plan.
I’ve arrived. The parent of a Pre-K-er. I still don’t know what in the world is to come, but I will try to be ready. And next year, I may write up a manual for all the new parents starting school with their kids. Just because I know the feeling.