Singin’ the “First Week of School” Blues

My granddaughter started kindergarten this week. She went to pre-K at the same school last year so the environment is familiar. Last Friday I joined her mom and her grandfather to visit the classroom and meet the teachers. She had talked proudly all summer about going to kindergarten and was excited about meeting her new teacher, who is about to have a baby, so the sub was there as well.

Papa took her picture on the first day.

Her mom reported that Chloe’s first day went well Monday, and I picked her up after school on Tuesday for our usual time together. When I arrived she was playing with her mom’s iPad. Thus ensued:

Meltdown #1: She doesn’t want to give up the iPad. I have no objection to her using it, but when we’re together I want us to have our usual silly, trivial—and sometimes surprisingly important—conversations.

Meltdown #2: We get to our house (without iPad) and she’s so tired and hungry she can barely pick herself up off the sofa to have the cheese and crackers and Fusion juice I’ve fixed for her.

Meltdown #3: Once she’s restored, we have a lovely swim until it’s time to get out for dinner. A neighbor she adores is at the pool and she doesn’t want to go. I leave her with the neighbor to finish up dinner prep and send Gary out to bring her in. He gives up. I go out and have to resort to my ace: “If I have to come in there and get you I’m afraid I’ll have to tell your mom I just can’t take you after school any more. One….” It’s my heaviest weapon and I rarely use it, but I was desperate and she was dug in.

After dinner, once again restored to sanity, she wanted to go for a walk. Even in the heat and humidity it’s fun to walk with her around the long block, talking about the new park that’s going in, looking for the hidden pond at the bottom of the hill, peeking in a living room with SpongeBob on the TV, remembering that a vacant house had had a couple of toilets sitting in front for a while.

Neighborhood “yard art” last spring.

So why the meltdowns from an otherwise sweet and happy child? My theory is that with 20 kids in a class, kindergarten teachers must have to keep pretty tight reins on everyone. (I try to imagine spending an entire day with 20 5-year-olds—and doing it 8½ months pregnant!—but it just gives me a headache.)

So I think the kids use up their best behavior at school and let all the bad stuff out with the people who have to put up with it at home. I’m fortunate I only have it twice a week. I pity all the mommies and daddies out there having to deal with this daily, perhaps with multiple children.

So who’s glad summer vacation is over?

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