Morristown Mama Drama: All aboard the Kindergarten Express

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Morristown Mama Drama is two Morris County moms with two different perspectives– one from the land of Mardi Gras (New Orleans, LA) and one from the land of WaWa (Bucks County, PA)–sharing insights and tips from the trenches. We met in Morristown when our oldest kids were 6 months old and have been navigating this delightful, and sometimes harrowing, journey together ever since. Check out our latest escapades and local recommendations right here on Morristown Green.

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A few months ago, we waxed anxious about the fact that our older children were halfway through Pre-K and that we were starting to think about kindergarten – where they would go, what it would be like, and how we could successfully let go.

We promised to update you on the process as we learned more, and if there’s one thing these mamas do – besides laundry–it’s keeping our promises.

Mardi: “It Goes so Fast”

Older parents stop you in the grocery store while you thump cantaloupe. “He’s adorable,” says the older woman gathering nectarines. “Enjoy it. Savor every minute. My youngest just turned 29…I miss those days when mine were little.”

You nod and smile. But here’s the thing–I take photos of every moment. I must have 200 pictures of my children drinking boxed chocolate milk at Starbucks. I jot down a line or two (I try for every day but it’s really about three times a month) in my Mom’s One Line a Day Memory Book Five-Year Diary, but when the sand slips down the hourglass, you can’t really stop it.

You can step back and remember it’s just a short time that they’re little, but it’s like having a really cute dog that’s biting your leg all day long, and you feel guilty if you pull that leg away (putting that dog in camp, or adding extra hours of preschool) because when you see the dog again, it asks, “why did you take that leg away?” Chomp.

But years from now you will only remember how cute that dog looked: The bright eyes, the sweet puppy breath, the big paws.

“This is the best time of your life,” you constantly remind yourself, swinging that leg up and into the car, making room between the seat and the car door for the puppy digging into your calf.

When the doggy takes a short break and pulls away from your skin, you grab your iPhone, set it to “portrait” mode, snap a picture, and post your “perfect pup” on Facebook.

Wawa: Giving Up Control

Losing control over their lives: During the last week of Pre-K, I was putting my son to bed when out of nowhere, he started bawling. Full-fledged, wracking sobs, through which he told me how, on the playground that day, two classmates had been doing something that looked fun. He wanted to join in, and when he did, they told him to stop copying them and ran away from him.

I hauled him out of his bed and cradled him in my lap — the same way I’d held him for countless feedings, naps and snuggles back when he fit a little tidier into that space. I stroked his head and tried to make soothing sounds, but really I was stalling, trying to figure out what I was supposed to say.

In those few seconds, I felt like I was in one of those major parenting moments, and in a major parenting test. This was a glimpse of what was ahead–a lifetime of things happening to him that I can’t foresee, prevent or fix — the beginning him being “out in the world” without me.

At the same time, as my heart was breaking for him and how much this clearly upset him, I also felt like I needed to toughen him up–it’s only going to get harder from here, right? In a few months he’ll be on a bus with 8-year-olds, he’ll be sitting at a cafeteria table with a mixed bag of kids he doesn’t know.

He has to be able to 1) stand up for himself and 2) not let these things wreck him the way this did. I told him to look for people who wanted to play nicely and not worry about those who don’t. I told him that sometimes when kids are best friends, they just want to be with each other and that doesn’t mean he’s not fun to play with.

I told him that it’s much more important to be someone who includes others than someone who leaves people out, so he should keep being the way he is and let those other kids go and be alone together.

He asked me to tell his teacher about this incident. (I hate to admit how much I’d love to stake out the playground and intervene whenever someone even looks at my boy wrong.)

But I realized that, though I can’t foresee, prevent or fix these things that will happen, the most important thing I can do is prepare him for how to handle them on his own.

Reassure him that what other people do isn’t a reflection of him. And maybe arm him with some retorts that will get his message across without getting him in trouble — though I worry the best ones I could come up with sound like they should be shouted by a soot-stained newsie in knickers. Is it weird for a five year old to yell: “Who needs ya!”?

Mardi: Real School (Yikes!)

Didn’t I just fight over the sandbox in kindergarten? I remember Gerald ate paste and some other kid picked his nose in the corner. When did it become so serious?

At my daughter’s parent orientation, we received handbooks explaining all the details that keep the ship sailing smoothly. My heart started racing. This was legit school. Besides the strict uniform that everyone assured me would actually be fantastic, I couldn’t get over drop off time: 7:30-7:59 am.

For those of us with chronic tardiness issues like me, the grace period of five to 10 minutes late is now over. School starts at 8 am. (How am I ever going to get my 5 1/2-year-old up and out the door at that ungodly hour?) Do we all need to go to bed at 8 pm?

Suddenly Pre-K, which had seemed so much more serious than her other preschool years, with its investigation of other cultures and cuisine and making a Great Wall of China out of sugar cubes and doing worksheets practicing their letters–seemed so babyish now.

No more pulling her out of class early to go to the zoo. How will she fare making new friends? How will I?

Wawa: How do you keep friends and Equally Important–Mommy Friends

It was inevitable, but the time has finally come. For the first time since music class when our oldest were six months old, the Mamas’ paths will diverge. Fancy Mardi Gras Mom is going private and I’m going public.

We still have our younger children in pre-school together, but it will be interesting to see how the strong bonds formed in these poignant, taxing early years will fare when our time is divided between two different schools– both for us and for the kids.

Also, how is MGM going to know what’s going on at her new school without her Type A buddy texting her the night before with a gentle reminder? She also needs to find a new EMT for her hot mess 911’s. But I’m sure someone at the new school will be able to do pick-ups, drop-offs or give rides when MGM is running late — and it will probably be in a nicer car.

Mardi: Please leave Fridays open for challah, pizza & movie night because I am freaking out!

WM: Always. 

Note:

We do understand how lucky we have both been to have been able to stay at home with our kids during these early years. While we both are self-employed and can make our own schedules, we have great respect and admiration for how working moms have all this to deal with plus strict deadlines, tyrannical bosses, and lengthy commutes.

We will dig into the trials of the working mom next month when we interview a few fantastic full-time, double duty mammas.

MORE ‘MAMA DRAMA’

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I kinda care! Haters gonna hate. I think it’s a nice piece. Sorry if it’s not for you. Peace John!

  2. Sorry if this is harsh, but….who cares? Is this site that starved for content? I think this empty comment sections perfectly summarizes readers interest of such a self-indulgent column. Writing about how time flies when your kids are in pre-k? You have zero perspective.

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