Back to School

The first days of a new school year are always hard.

watercolor school supplies on a small desk
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The first days of a new school year are always hard.

In addition to the initial chaos as we adapt to the school routine, the kids are exhausted from the long school days. Even though they attend full-day summer camp, it isn't the same. With summer camp, they mostly play outside and do fun projects. School is hard work.

It's quite the circus in the morning as we prep for the school day. Middle school and elementary school have different start times. I have to make lunches, pack snacks, and fill water bottles. Months ago, we got into the habit of doing Wordle but now it puts a crunch on the morning for my 7th grader. I suggested that he might want to get up earlier so that he has more time in the morning and was met with an "everything's fine" response.

My kindergartener has already brought home a runny nose. Masks are pretty much gone in the classroom, so I expect we'll see more of the normal kid illnesses than we have over the past few years.

This morning, my 5th grader was hysterical because he slept until 7:00 a.m. and had homework to finish. I doubt that the homework is overly time-consuming, but — like everything else — it's slow going at first. He had four things to complete and about one hour of time so I set a timer to go off every 15 minutes to help him stay on track.

Kindergarten requires that a parent escort their child to and from the bus stop, something we haven't done in years. My husband is morning and I'm afternoon. Except he can't do "backwards math" to figure out what time he should tell the kids to start getting ready, so we've had some scrambling.

On top of that, my 7th grader decided to join cross country. I thought that practices were one day per week but turns out they practice four days per week, until 4:30 p.m.  He'll need to figure out how to fit in homework and one of the two adults in the house has to pick him up. That doesn't include when he has meets. I was really looking forward to three kids riding the bus and having many days where I don't need to leave the house at all...

Last night my kindergartener sat on my lap and sobbed because she says the school bus is "scary." I'm sure it is scary to a tiny 5-year-old.

I've thought about her "school readiness" a lot more than the other two kids. And I fully realize that readiness is an arbitrary benchmark. But because of her August birthday, she's one of the youngest in her class. She also spent more than a year at home instead of in preschool. So she feels less "ready."

And maybe I only care about readiness because it makes kindergarten easier. She could focus on the social aspects of being in a big school and less on the learning part. But she just feels so little and so young. Plus, she's my baby.

So she sat on my lap and cried. I told her that I would tell her 5th grade brother to sit with her on the bus. That didn't calm her. Nothing calmed her. After awhile, I figured that it wasn't about the bus but just a manifestation of being overwhelmed by the first week of school. I'm sure she was exhausted.

We'll ride out these next few weeks and find our rhythm.