There’s No Crying In Kindergarten

“I’m going to Kindergarten today!” my third child yelled at me when I opened her bedroom door Tuesday morning.

Indeed. She was already dressed and rolling around on her bed, throwing her stuffed giraffe in the air.

It was the day I had been waiting for, counting down, dreaming about. The day all three of my children would be in school, at the same time. The closets I could clean! The work I could do without interruption or guilt! The meals I would plan! (Ok, maybe I’m getting a little ambitious)  Plus, it was like getting a raise. For the first time in years, I wouldn’t be paying for preschool or childcare. Visions of new shoes danced in my head!

But really, it was about freedom. Freedom from chasing a toddler, inventing random trips to Target to kill time, or playing “Little People” for hours on end.  (I was running out of Little People story lines- there’s only so much Eddie and Sonya Lee can do) It was freedom for her, too. No more mother hovering. Finally she could do what the big kids do, like eating lunch at school. Which, according to the third child, is the best part of Kindergarten.photo-17

As we walked to school together, she skipped over lines on the sidewalk and chattered on about seeing friends. She grabbed my hand and swung it as she walked. Suddenly, her plump cheeks and lips didn’t look so babyish. When did her legs get so long? And who taught her that Iggy Azalea song? (Curse you, “Fancy”)

At the Kindergarten door, she hugged her teacher, cautiously looked around and found a seat at a table. Parents gushed and took pictures. When we kissed her goodbye and told her to have a good day she answered with a happy “I will!” No tears, no hesitation.

I was the one who suddenly hesitated, and the feeling hit me like a ton of bricks. This wasn’t my first time at the ‘ol Kindergarten rodeo, mind you. I dropped off two kids before her. It was always a new and happy beginning – I had no problem scooting them through the door and leaving. But I always had a smaller child on my hip. I knew I would experience the Kindergarten shuffle again in a few years.

But this time when I dropped off a child, I didn’t have another one. It was just me, with my list of things to do. Which was still liberating and exciting. And suddenly sad at the same time. It was the realization that I wasn’t just finishing a chapter, I was moving on to the next section of the book. The baby days were done and believe me, I’m not looking forward to the teen years. Suddenly my eyes welled up. Must have been allergies.

At the end of the first day, we picked up our Kindergarten queen. She knew all the class rules and of course, when lunch would be. Hard to be sad, when someone is so happy and exactly where she needs to be.

Now, time for some shoe shopping.

The One Word Parents Never Want To Hear

I opened an email from a good friend last week.  And there it was.  The moment I saw the word, I started breathing heavily and my vision blurred.  I tried to get up and stagger away from the computer, but I felt like I was going to be sick.  And then I started scratching my head like crazy.

Lice.

The Email No One Wants To Get

As in, someone has lice in the second grade.  The same grade my daughter is in.  At the same school.  It’s the one word that just makes me want to run away.  Or as my friend put it – run straight to her liquor cabinet.  I’ve faced down every childhood illness.  Pink eye.  Fevers.  The vomits.  Multiple bee stings.  A smashed toenail.  A spider bite that swelled one eye shut and caused an overnight hospital stay with IV antibiotics.  Intestinal distress. I can handle them.  Or really, I’ve had to handle them because, I have no choice.  That whole mother thing kind of means you’re in charge.

But lice.  Lice could break me.  To confirm my fears, our school sent home an email.  And it’s a subject heading you never want to see: Head Lice Communication.  Yes, lice was spreading like wildfire, jumping from tiny head to tiny head, laying eggs and…. I think I just made myself sick again.  Parents were instructed to bring in trash bags to keep students’ belongings separate.  A friend told me to put my daughter’s hair in braids or a bun to keep it out of the way.  I think we should have locked down the joint like the outer space level 5 hazmat scene from E.T.

And it’s not just my school.  Now that I’ve had my first brush with the l-word, it seems to be everywhere.

At a recent party, one mother confessed to me that her kids got lice this fall.  And then again a few weeks ago.  And it wasn’t just the kids.  She got it too (!).  As I frantically started itching my head, she recounted her trip to the drug store once she made the horrifying discovery.  She slapped down three lice killing shampoos on the counter. And a fifth of vodka.  Then, she told me, she called the Lice Lady.

There is actually a wonderful woman who will come and check your child’s head, bring you lice killing super power shampoo and help you de-louse your house.  Genius!  I’m not sure how much she charges but I think I’d give her my first-born (especially if she’s the one who has lice) to clean it up.  I went to her website which says “Welcome to the Lice Lady!  Sorry you have to be here!”  I love this woman already.  She’s like a first responder, a Lice Marine, running into dangerous situations when others are running away.  She must have a strong stomach and patience for weeping parents who wonder “WHY ME?!”

I took an unscientific poll of mothers (5 friends) which revealed they believe lice is indeed the worst.  One mom disagreed and she’d take lice over the vomits.  I started scratching my head again.  We have so far escaped the Lice bug (knock on nits).  But since we’ve had the stomach flu this past week, perhaps there’s a Vomit Lady out there.