Big Guy’s first day at the Big Kids’ school weird for everyone but him
A freshly scrubbed 5-year-old trudges up the sidewalk on a crisp September day. He reluctantly loosens his death grip on my hand and heads for the classroom door. He turns and waves hesitantly as I flick aside a delicate tear. My baby's first day of kindergarten!
I'm not capable of dreams wild enough to conjure up Tuesday's reality:
Four-year-old Big Guy bounced out of bed on a 96-degree July morning, cheering, ""It's time! It's today!"" I swiped at the chocolate milk on his face, but he was half-way down the block on his scooter before I could catch him.
As we waited outside his classroom, he did his ""ants in his pants"" dance and incessantly asked how long it would be before he could go in. Note to self: Buy Big Guy a watch and teach him to figure it out for himself.
At last the bell rang. Big Guy allowed us to escort him inside but quickly lost interest when he saw a bin of books. I had to beg him for a hug. Ungrateful wretch!
*** I'd wakened with a jolt at 3 a.m. that morning. Something's not quite right in that classroom, I thought. I replayed my mental movie from the previous night's orientation until I spotted it. There! Just to the right of the door, second shelf from the bottom. A box of peanut butter and crackers.
They're gonna freakin' kill him. NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!
It was the kids' snacks. Why hadn't anyone told me about snacks? I know 3.6 million parents whose kids have gone through kindergarten in California and no one mentioned a snack. Why, why, why hadn't anyone said anything?
I calmed close to rational and realized they hadn't mentioned it because it wasn't important in their lives. Because food can't kill their kids -- it can Big Guy.
Big Guy is so sensitive to peanut that he's what they call contact allergic. If someone who's touched peanut touches something and then he touches it, he's headed for a meeting with Mr. Benadryl.
I had grilled the school nurse about lunch procedure and asthma care. I'd gathered regular and emergency medications and packaged them to leave at the school. I'd never given a second's thought to the classroom. Stupid, stupid mommy!
Little Guy's morning was worse. He's had a raging case of ""kingergargin"" envy for two weeks, because, once we got past his birthday, Big Guy's impending enrollment began to dominate our lives.
""I gonna go to kingergargin, too"" he'd insist, big-lipped.
""Sweety, you're not old enough.""
""I'm getting taller. I gonna go.""
And in his mind, I'm sure there was never any doubt that Mean Mommy would relent.
His chant continued Tuesday morning. ""I gonna go to kingergargin!"" We went into Big Guy's classroom and he plopped beside his brother on the floor, eagerly pilfering the pile of books. Then I had to pick him up to leave. The wails violated several local noise ordinances.
Day Two was worse. He took his lunch box with him this morning, hoping to sneak in with others. Mean Mommy foiled him again. For the next 20 minutes, as we drove to day care, he alternated between telling me how mean I am and pleading to be with Big Guy.
His teachers said it took only an hour for him to quit shrieking.
Despite the early summer start and even though he's a few weeks away from 5, Big Guy was ready.
""I don't like my old school anymore. No C, no D, no B, no Mack Attack,"" he said, listing the friends who have left since last month. ""Borrrrinngggggg!""
He loves his new teacher and already remembers one new friend. Conveniently, there's a kid in his class whose name is the same as Little Guy's, so that was an easy one for Big Guy to get. I hope no one tells Little Guy. He'll be convinced the other kid took his spot.
Big Guy wants to know if I can teach him to read by next week, and he's taken to raising his hand at home when he has to go to the bathroom.
He has only two gripes so far: The embarrassing baby Thomas backpack he was forced to tote the first day because a meltdown kept him from his new model, and recreation choices.
""Teachers say we can't play tag. I don't understand. We played tag at my old school all the time and the teachers never said one word about it,"" he groused, punching his finger in the air for emphasis. I don't know where he learned that.
As for me, I resolved the allergy problem early Tuesday -- the teacher quickly agreed to a peanut-free classroom.
As for Little Guy, I hope to pare the meltdown time to 30 minutes by the end of the week.
Looks like the last laugh is Big Guy's. This was supposed to be his big adjustment. Turns out, he's the only one doing OK.
Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.