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Monday, September 24, 2018

Kindergarten Ramblings (Alternatively: I'm baaaaack... maybe)

Remember that time that, after 10+ years of continuous blogging, I abruptly stopped with no explanation? Sorry about that. Well actually, I'm not really sorry about that because it has been refreshingly freeing not to feel "obligated" to crank out weekend recap posts since that's really what the blog turned into anyway.

I kept thinking I would feel the urge to get back into it but the urge never struck and so I just kept the hiatus going. Fast forward to this past summer. In July, I turned in my notice at my job, where I had been working for almost 11 years. Brian and I had been talking for a while about how I would like to stop working full-time by the time the twins started Kindergarten, so once the calendar changed to 2018, we started discussing the possibility more seriously.

We crunched the numbers and knew that it would be a stretch to make it work on one income, but after much thought and prayer, we realized it was time to take a leap of faith and go for it. When I finally worked up the courage to put in my notice, everyone was shocked, myself included. I had been planning to do it but simply couldn't wrap my brain around it actually happening, and truthfully my last day felt a bit like an out of body experience.

My last day was August 1st. We then went on a (pre-planned) cruise with some friends for a few days before I came back to spend 1.5 weeks as a stay-at-home mom before the twins started school. Those 1.5 weeks went quickly and basically just felt like a really long weekend.

Despite the fact that they were just tiny little 5+ pound newborns a few blinks ago, on August 15th, Colby and Clara started Kindergarten. The next day, I went back to work for my same employer on a part-time basis as a temporary contractor. So yeah, there were (are) a lot of changes going on in this house.

I work from 8:15 am-2 pm, Monday through Thursday. So basically I drop the twins off at school, go to work, come home for about an hour, then pick them up at school and begin our afternoon/evening routine. On Fridays, I volunteer at the school during lunch (opening yogurt tubes, peeling oranges, etc.) and run errands- for obvious reasons, this is my favorite day of the week, but it also seems to go by the fastest!

I would like to do a new "day in the life" post some time soon to capture the new routine both for my own memory's sake and for those of you that are equally nosy and like to know how I fill my days now in this new season of life.

But besides the fact that our world has been logistically rocked (in a very First World Problem kind of way), I have also been itching to write lately so that I could reflect a little bit on how the transition has impacted all of us on a slightly deeper level. Again, this is partially for my own therapeutic purposes, and partially because I'm hoping someone else will read this and say, "Yes! Me too!" If you're one of those people that reads this and thinks, "Whoa, you are super high strung and need to take a chill pill," know that I'm having those same thoughts, too.

Brian
The biggest shift for him has been that I am spending more time with the kids than he is (whereas prior to me quitting, we were rarely ever not with them together thanks to our dual working status and carpooling arrangement). This means he has to listen to me whine about them more and that when he gets home, the mood has already been established. I can imagine it is tricky (and a little terrifying) for him to arrive home and not quite know what to expect. Did the kids have a good day or a bad day? Have I already reached the end of my patience or am I for some reason inexplicably relaxed that day? God bless him.

Clara
I will say that the lack of rest/nap time has affected her more than Colby. She doesn't come home sleepy or pass out at the dinner table, but she just gets cranky and emotionally fragile in the evenings more easily than she did before.

Other than that, she has really adjusted to Kindergarten pretty well. She loves her teacher, loves making new friends, and seems to be thriving in a predictable environment wherein she is often "rewarded" for doing the right thing (she gets this from me).

I would honestly say that between the twins, she has adjusted the most smoothly, which surprises me because I spent more time than I care to admit fretting about how she would do in the months leading up to school and I hardly ever gave Colby's transition a second thought since I figured it would be a non-event. Silly me, of course, because my concerns were all rooted in her academic abilities. And while yes, the fact that she (still) hasn't mastered her letters and numbers has come up, it has not been an issue like I thought it would be and she seems to be catching on more quickly than I anticipated.

Colby
Much to my surprise, Colby is the one that has been struggling to adjust. The good part is that I don't think he realizes this at all and he seems to enjoy school for the most part. He would definitely still prefer to be at home, but I don't think he is unhappy in the new environment.

He started off the year with a substitute teacher because his permanent teacher hadn't been hired yet. She was sweet and more than likely a little hands-off, so the first couple of weeks with her were uneventful. However, as soon as his permanent teacher started (literally on the first day she was there), we started getting reports in his daily folder about his behavior.

It has all been relatively minor... he lays down on the carpet when they're supposed to be sitting and listening, he speaks without raising his hand, he gets up and moves around at lunch when he's supposed to stay in one place. There have also been a few episodes of disobedience (telling the teacher "no" and sticking his tongue out at her... neat). As is the case in probably every other Kindergarten classroom in America, they use a green/yellow/red color chart to report on behavior and I would say he has come home on "yellow" about 75% of the time thus far, which is fairly mortifying to a former teacher's pet like myself.

I know in my head that this is all normal. He is 5. This is new to him. He's a boy. But it has been very challenging for me not to take it as a personal affront to our parenting abilities.

Which leads me to...

Me
Nevermind the minor identity crisis I've been experiencing about not having a full-time job. Truthfully that blow has been softened since I basically went right into a part-time role doing a lot of the same things I was already doing. The real struggle for me has been Kindergarten.

The obvious issue mentioned above is that my self-esteem has taken a major hit as a result of not having "perfect" children that have impressed their teachers with their stellar behavior and above average intelligence. I KNOW THIS IS INCREDIBLY UNFAIR AND SELFISH OF ME, but it is just how I feel so I'm going to be honest about it.

The reality is that I put the same unachievable expectations on myself, and find it very challenging to give myself any grace, so often the same is true in my expectations with others, especially those I'm close with and even more so those in my immediate family, since I more or less see them as extensions of myself.

Basically Kindergarten has been full of new settings and exposure to new people for all of us (obviously them with their classmates, teachers, etc.), but also me with meeting the parents, getting to know the teachers/school administration, etc. With all of this newness comes a lot of vulnerability and I guess I just didn't anticipate how that would make me feel. Or honestly how it would make the twins feel, because I'm sure some of their behavior is a result of some of these same feelings.

So yeah, it has been harder than I thought. Overall, I know that we could all be doing a much crummier job of adjusting. We aren't dealing with any severe behavioral or academic issues and I have been making a few new friends with other parents (though still waiting for the appropriate time to add them on Facebook considering the only way I know most of their last names is through extensive online stalking). The bottom line is that change is hard, but it's extra hard for perfectionist creatures of habit like myself... and their family members.

I'm pressing on in my quest to pursue grace over perfection for all of us and asking for forgiveness when I screw it up again. In the meantime, I might report back with updates or I may fall off the radar again. You'll just have to stay tuned intermittently to find out!

6 comments:

  1. I never thought this day would come, but I'm glad it did! I'll look forward to reading any posts you crank out, regardless of how intermittent they may be. Also, I'm sorry that the transition to Kinder hasn't been a slam dunk for everyone, but I do feel confident that it will get better and easier, so hang in there!

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  2. I can feel your kindergarten pain with boys vs girls. I have a class clown kindergartener, but I was prepared (he has shown these behaviors for the past 2 years of prek). We have fun treats as after school snacks with good reports and if we have 5 days in a row, we have an ice cream party at home to celebrate on Fridays. It has been a big help, and upside I feel like we are creating memories.

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  3. Oh my goodness - so much of this resonates with me. I have two polar opposite kids when it comes to school - one loves it with every fiber of his being and the other would be perfectly content to be a 4th grade drop out. I can't even tell you how many real tears I cried over the past 2 years in particular over his lack of enthusiasm for school and his underwhelming academic performance. A lot of those tears were for his sake, but if I'm being perfectly honest, a lot of them were just from the self induced shame of not having a kid that was at the top of his class. I've had to struggle with the same shame when it comes to their athletic prowess - although, I'm going to say that there are lots of parents out in my neck of the woods who think their kids are headed for athletic stardom and I think they need to calm down and stop using social media as a way to make their kid look like the next George Springer. I have to remind myself that, at the end of the day, my boys love Jesus, are loyal to their friends and are perfectly content with where they fit in in their little world. I pray every year for teachers that will see the potential in both kids and foster a love of learning in them.

    I'm sure you've seen this quote, but I absolutely love it : "Some kids are smarter than you, some kids have cooler clothes than you, some kids are better at sports than you. It doesn't matter. You have your thing too. Be the kid who can get along. Be the kid who is generous. Be the kid who is happy for other people. Be the kid who does the right thing. Be the nice kid." - Bryan Scavnak

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  4. Hey hey, look who blogged!! Hooray!! Love these updates!! But listen, I'm super annoyed with Colby's teacher. Like he's FIVE. Are you seriously sending notes home about laying down on a carpet and speaking without raising a hand??! I mean, someone alert the FBI. SUCH CRIMES. I would have a hard time transitioning too if someone was nitpicking me about every little thing. :( That just makes me sad. Millie is definitely not a law-abiding, never-wiggles-without-permission saint (so, a normal pre-k kid, haha) but I am thankful that her teacher chooses not to make a big deal out of those things, and instead focuses on bigger picture, important things- kindness, respect for friends/teachers/school materials, etc. She lets me know when there are BIG behavior problems (biting...consistently unkind/disrespectful all day, etc.) but not every little thing. Like who even has time for that. And also she lets me know when she has GOOD days/does particularly excellent things, which I super appreciate. Anyway. Sorry for the rant. I bet Colby is fantastic and wonderful and totally normal and I hope that he has better days ahead!! I can't wait to hear more about your adjustment, especially once your contract work stops. What WILL you do once the novelty of laying around eating bonbons all day wears off?? (obviously what SAHMs do 24/7) I put in a vote for a fresh day in the life post!!

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  5. I'm sorry the school year hasn't been everything you envisioned. It is so hard letting go of expectations and control in areas that we feel are an extension of us/our performance/etc. I think we can all relate to this some, even if the struggle isn't Kinder. I will keep praying for you all right now in this time of transition and for your heart to feel peace regardless of outcomes (I have to pray this a lot for myself in regards to Clara's milestones). Lots of love!

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  6. I just wrote this huge comment and blogger/bloglovin deleted it!! Ahhhhhhhh. Ok trying to remember if all: WELCOME BACK. Please do a day in the life post because I’m one of those nosy people. I love your recap of everyone’s adjustment. I thought Brian is particularly interesting because I’d never considered that change with Adam although we were similar in that we spent equal time with Aaron while I was working (him 2 hours in the morning and me 2 hours evening). I’m happy Clara is thriving and lol’ed at the predicable/reward-system environment because that’s also so ME. I’m sorry Colby continued to be an adjustment but I have lots of faith that this will get better as the school year progresses. Our school does not do a traffic light scoring system so the only way I know how Aaron is doing is by his own admission which is... unreliable. Ha.

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