Up The Down Escalator

I’ve got that running-up-the-down-escalator feeling again.

It’s mainly an issue of priorities, I think, plus a lack of physical activity (again, due to priorities and scheduling conflicts). I feel better when I can get outside and walk, or go to the Fitness Center and take a class, but the past week or so hasn’t been conducive to that. Chiropractor, salon, Weight Watchers open house, standing lunch date…

I also have stuff I want to do at home in the evenings, like process and post the photos from my son’s sixth birthday, and post my regular Dear Connor birthday blog entry (which is currently waiting on photos), and just write to get stuff out of my head, and start some sewing projects, and clean up my home office area, and — and — and.

What actually happens in the evenings, though?

  1. Get home from work. Catch up with husband for about half an hour.
  2. Hubby goes to work. Make dinner while son plays Kindle Fire or Nintendo DS.
  3. Eat dinner with son.
  4. Clean up kitchen while son eats dessert (and sometimes a snack) and watches TV.
  5. I supervise while son takes a bath, brushes teeth, and takes allergy meds.
  6. He puts on jammies, chooses a daily calendar sticker, and we read a book.
  7. Lights out.

After lights out, I stay within earshot for the next half hour until he calls me back upstairs to talk some more and massage his feet. That means no going into the back office to edit photos on my desktop computer or going into the sunroom to sew.

By the time I get back downstairs and I finally have some uninterrupted “me” time, it’s 8:30pm (or later) and I’m mentally done for the day. I’m only good for reading or playing on my phone or watching TV — I don’t have the oomph to create, only consume. I turn into a pumpkin around 9:30pm, but I’ve been much better about going upstairs and getting my own bedtime routine happening, and turning my own lights out between 10pm and 10:30.

During that hour after Connor goes to bed, though, if I’m not totally exhausted, there’s plenty I could do. I’m going to have to just prioritize it somehow: figure out what’s most important and carve out time for it. One task a night, whether I feel “up to it” or not. I’m a grown-ass woman, and I should be able to get up and do the things that need done, even when I’m tired. Even if I tell myself I’ll only do it for ten minutes, and set an alarm; or if I manage to get all the ingredients of the muffins or quickbread or whatever set out before I put my son to bed; or if I go straight across the hall to my bedroom to quietly tidy my closet while I’m waiting for Connor to request his nightly masseuse visit. Shit can get done one way or another.

Small bites of big projects. Baby steps. Specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, timely goals — not vague ideas of Getting Something Done After My Son Goes To Bed.

Yeah, yeah, I can do that.

Our First Fog Delay

My phone buzzed me awake at 5:48am. I didn’t know the number, but it was local. I declined the call and tried to get back to sleep for awhile before my real alarm would wake me up.

I figured it was Connor’s school announcing a fog delay, but I checked my voicemail to be sure (in the bathroom, so as not to wake my sleeping husband). Yep. Voicemail, text, and email all said the same thing.

I sort of drifted back to sleep before my alarm went off and the morning routine began. Connor, as usual, met me in the bathroom while I was getting ready. I explained the Extended Time program and fog delays to him as best as I could at 7am.

Once we were dressed, teeth brushed, breakfast eaten, and (in my case) coffee ready, we headed out.

Connor's first fog delay

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First Week of Kindergarten

It took some cajoling, but we finally got some details out of Connor about his first few days of Kindergarten.

On Preview Day, he got to attend with just 7 kids out of the 20-some in his full class, to start getting the hang of things. It sounds like he went to three out of his five “special” classes: Computers, Gym, and Music. He’s certainly my boy: after telling me that, in Computers, he got to use a mouse and wear headphones, he admitted that he just kinda looked around for the first minute at what everyone else was doing, to make sure he was doing the right thing.

I sent him 50┬ó for milk that first day, before I put money on his charge account. It turns out that he was the only one in his Preview group who bought anything; everyone else packed and brought a juice box. (The lunch monitor helped him open his milk.) He and his new friend A really hit it off at lunch; Connor says A is as silly as he is. ­čÖé They even had almost identical lunches: bologna sandwich, gogurt, and applesauce, although A had cookies for dessert and a juice box, and Connor had cherry tomatoes and a chocolate milk. For the rest of the week, Connor packed lunch and bought milk (rotating through chocolate, strawberry, and plain), and bought lunch on Pizza Friday. He even got to have a slushie with his pizza!

Since we live in the future, we’ve been able to get feedback on how Connor’s adjusting to the classroom. The ClassDojo app lets us see when Connor gets credit for raising his hand or following directions quickly, and the teacher can message parents privately (and vise versa). The “points” Connor gets can spur conversations about the day, which is honestly my favorite part so far. It makes me feel less helicoptery and more able to engage him about what happened at school that day. For example, one day, he got a point for Making Smart Choices because he told on a kid who kept throwing mulch in the toilet, even after Connor told him to stop.

The school bus route has been interesting, since a.) all the buses were overcrowded at first, and b.) we live on a busy two-lane road, so the bus driver straight-up told us that he couldn’t have Connor crossing in front of the bus by himself in the afternoon. (In the morning, Connor’s the first one on the bus, on our side of the street, so no worries there.) On that first day, Dad and I crossed the street to escort Connor off the bus. On the morning of the second day, the bus driver told me he had an idea of how to adjust the route to put him on the right side of the street, but we’d have to pick him up in the yard instead of the driveway, so the bus could turn left onto the road in front of our house. That would work, as long as the yard isn’t soggy or full of snow. The third day, the bus driver told me that Connor would be riding a different bus home in the afternoon, which started a flurry of phone calls and ClassDojo messages to confirm bus number and drop-off time. Since then, Dad has reported that the afternoon bus driver started out a little flustered, but she’s since figured out her bus route and has been getting Connor home a bit earlier (nearly a half hour sooner than that first day).

Overall, Connor has been seriously loving Kindergarten so far. He’s met new friends (and even remembered some of their names), gotten used to a new schedule and routine, tried new things (like buying lunch and riding the school bus), and even had some homework (retelling a story to Dad to confirm his reading comprehension).

His only blip so far was last night. I showed him a Facebook video of his preschool teacher’s toddler taking his first steps, and that made him remember how much he missed his friends at his old school.

“I’m sure James really misses me,” he lamented while I was massaging his feet last night. (James was one of his BFFs.)

Apart from that one moment of sadness, though, he’s been bubbling over with excitement every day. Granted, it’s only been a week… but I think this is going to be a good year.

First Day of Kindergarten

In his Pikachu socks

Thru the clear umbrella

Waiting in the rain

Waiting with Dad

First on the bus

Dad got up early especially to see Connor off on his first day of school, and Mom came home early from work to be there when Connor came home.

Getting off the bus

Connor had a great first day! No tears, no anxiety, nothing but happiness and excitement all around (parents included).

A New Chapter

Ms. Melissa, Thank you for the candy in your office. Love, Connor

The countdowns are over. At Pre-K, Connor’s had his last Treasure Day, his last Swim Day, his last Show and Tell, his last Bike Day, and his very last day of Pre-K. (Since he only goes to Pre-K four days a week, he’s had his last Daddy Day at home, too.) We’ve given the teachers their thank-you cards and gifts, I’ve turned in my keycard, and we’ve driven out of the parking lot for the last time.

At his new elementary school, we’ve attended Kickoff Day, Open House, and our Kindergarten Conference. He has his bus schedule, his lanyard (for that first nervous week of finding his classroom before school and finding his bus after school), and his three-ring binder that he’ll bring home every night. The vague feeling of an impending sea change has given way to the age-old newness and excitement of the first day of school.

I can completely understand how parents of kids who haven’t attended preschool (or even daycare) can turn into a blubbering mess when sending their child off on the school bus to new, solo adventures. Connor’s been spending time away from home for at least a few days a week ever since he was a toddler — he’s been attending the same daycare/preschool for over four years. That’s allowed us a slow transition from getting daily updates on paper about all the minutiae (and I mean all, including the contents of his diapers) to getting a general whiteboard update about what the class did that day. I’d still drop him off and pick him up in person every day, though, and talk to his teacher face to face at least once.

Technology has made it so that we’ll get a peek into the classroom via our iPhones, but that represents yet another transition for all of us. It’s all about our son becoming his own independent person — and, honestly, when I think about it, there are lots of things that I did or said or that happened to me at school over the years that my Mom never knew about.

It’s just fascinating to be on the other side of these memories.

Mrs. Riegger's Kindergarten class, 1981

Fun Day at Imagination Station

Connor and Mom at Imagination Station

We had an awesome time today! We went through the dinosaur exhibit (lots of animatronic dinos), made a brachiosaurus┬ásouvenir with the Mold-O-Matic, and hit up all of Connor’s favorite permanent exhibits, too, like the Distorted Gravity Room and the Farm 101 animatronic game show.