Tag Archives: school

For St. Patty’s, Let’s Make the Kindergartners Cry!

I get too involved. It’s a fact. In the midst of everything but the kitchen sink coming at me personally and at work, I decided I should plan Sally’s kindergarten class St. Patrick’s Day activity. This was a busy week for their class, too, so I kept it simple–for them. I, however, spent three hours creating the perfect leprechaun shenanigan!

Which brings us to 1:30 p.m. in a room filled with shorty chairs. First, I very craftily showed the kids my decoy cupcake:

decoy plain cupcake

Don’t those look boring? Exactly! But I played them up: “Oh Thanks GOODNESS, the cupcakes are okay. I was checking on them ALL DAY hoping the leprechauns wouldn’t play any tricks on me. Let’s read a story and then we’ll eat.”

The kids sit in their spots on the rug, and I take the stool in the center, which I highly recommend if you ever need a power trip. Sally, as practiced, tells everyone the title of the book: Clever Tom and the Leprechaun. (It should be pointed out that I paid $23 for a used copy of this out-of-print floppy little book because it’s supposed to be the greatest leprechaun tale of all time or something. It IS cute. It also basically ruined my day.)

My first clue was the child who whimpered, “But I don’t like leper-cons.” I patted his head (Figuratively. I don’t know where those kids have been.) and assured him this story was not at all scary. I read the book, complete with terrible Irish accent that the teacher kindly pretended not to notice. Then it was time for our boring old cupcakes.

But wait! Did anyone see a Leper or a Con come in here while we were reading? Because . . . our cupcakes have turned . . . RAINBOW! I am the BEST MOM EVER! Let the elation commence!

awesome rainbow cupcakesEleven children appear amused if not ecstatic, and begin crafting their leprechaun sneakiness theories.

And two. Two burst into tears. It seems leprechauns are terrifying creatures who might destroy all of humanity with their hanky panky.  So I declare the obvious: “No, no, you don’t need to be worried, it’s FUN! THE LEPRECHAUNS TURNED OUR CUPCAKES RAINBOW FOR PETE’S SAKE!”

The Two set off several more who decide they, too, are scared. But these kids are quick to accept sugary treats that have clearly been tampered with by someone with questionable ethics. They calm down and eat. The Two, however, are still crying. I pat them on the backs (literally this time, risking lice) and reassure them that the cupcakes are harmless. When they cry harder, I give up. Empathy is not my thing. Besides, now I’m worried their parents are going to egg my house for introducing their kids to some heathen character. Maybe I’ve really done something wrong! At our house the leprechauns attack with vengeance every year, turning the milk green, messing stuff up. It never occurred to me this might be scary. Oh wait — because IT’S NOT. What is wrong with these kids?

Deflated, I cleaned up rainbow crumbs and took Sally home. “Hey Mommy, you know B, who was crying? His dad is a minister!”

Awh, crap.


What Not To Do: A back-to-school list

As the first week of kindergarten came to a close, I realized it was not just Sally learning valuable lessons from school. I, too, was being educated–mostly on how to live with a fire-breathing dragon. To help other parents who may be facing the overtired, extra-exhausted, ‘I’m adjusting to a whole new school year and cannot deal with anything else in this god-forsaken world’ child, I am providing a list of things to avoid during your sponge-brained angel’s first weeks of school:

*Ask what she did at school today.
If you do… sobbing, claiming to not remember, declaring you must not love her anymore. Oh, also, they did circle time.

*Feed her anything but mac and cheese.
If you do… sobbing, declaring you do not love her and that she will never eat anything again, and she’ll move out and get her own apartment and eat mac and cheese every day. Oh you’re making tacos? Okay.

*Explain, define, or suggest anything, even if she asks.
If you do… You will be wrong.

*Wake her up. This often happens in the morning hours because she must return to school.
If you do… Sobbing, claiming school is an awful hell hole that is only slightly better than San Quentin Prison and why can’t you quit your job and stay home with her, don’t you LOVE her?! [Note: Later today you will go to school and find her skipping rope with her new friend and she’ll tell you they made play-doh with sparkles in it! Totally like prison.]

*Suggest she sleep. You know, because all the sobbing just maybe indicates she’s tired.
If you do… sobbing, declaring she’s not tired and maybe she could sleep if you’d fed her mac and cheese but HOW can she sleep at a time like this. Just read a fourth book tonight and then maybe she’ll be able to sleep. Now you’ve upset her so you’ll need to sleep with her, because that’s super comfortable, and it would be best if she could wrap her arms around your neck so that you can only breath at about half your lung capacity.

*Stop pushing her on the swing. Even though she can swing herself.
If you do… Sobbing, loudly whining that she can’t do it, it’s impossible, just push her higher. HIGHER. HIGHER!!!!

*Say that we need to leave the park because her behavior is ridiculous.
If you do… Actually I have no idea what happens, I was too afraid to find out.

Super Sally and Stupid Mommy to the Rescue

Next week is spirit week at Sally’s school. You know, beach day, hat day, stuff like that. Sally is beside herself with happiness. She’s been waiting for pajama day since she was born. But after a brief dance party in celebration, she looked at the day after pajama day.

Superhero Day.

“Well…I want to be a nice superhero, like maybe Word Girl.” Cool beans. Word Girl is a PBS show about a girl who has super vocabulary powers. I can dig it. AND I can get the costume for $24.99. So WHY I opened my huge, obnoxious, idiotic (yet cavity-free) mouth, I will never understand.

“Sure, Word Girl would be great. But you know, you could also be your own superhero, like Super Sally or something.”

“YYYEEEESSSSS!” Oh my goodness, veins are popping out of her neck. “I want to be Super Sally! YEAH! Can I design my costume?”

“Um. Sure, go for it.” Stupid, idiotic, rookie mom!

After she explained that those things on the sleeves are “details,” she gave me a sad stare. “Mommy. How are YOU going to make this? Can we have E’s mommy make it?” E’s mommy is a professional costume designer, so my suckage level is astronomical next to her. Unfortunately, E’s mommy also recently had the nerve to move halfway around the world. So Sally is stuck with me, a woman who gets  excited when she can cut a piece of fleece into a square.

But I am nothing if not a confident faker, so I boldly announced this would be simple, and got supplies (which, it should be noted, cost twice what the Word Girls costume would have). The hard part, I figured, would be the cape, since I’d need to actually make it. I was informed that there exists a magical substance that allows you to iron seams rather than sew them. WHAT?! Where has this been all my life? I’ll tell you where: blowing smoke up someone’s keester. I’d have better success melting some legos and using them to glue the seams.  I announced to the Embee tribe: “It doesn’t work. I’m going to have to sew it.”

They stared at me with that special blank look that is reserved for times when the Mom of the house is about to do something that everyone else in the house knows will lead to World War III.

And to them I say, EAT DIRT! I have produced a superhero costume reasonably close to Sally’s design, with a HAND-SEWN cape (someday I’ll grasp how a sewing machine even works…), sequin stripe on the leggings and sparkly “S” emblazoned on the Old Navy shirt. And if you stand back 10 feet and squint, it looks pretty rockin’. But the best part is that when Sally puts it on, she actually becomes Super Sally–who, FYI, “flies, fights crime and helps people.” I’m constantly crying for Super Sally to help me spell a word or tell me which utensil to use for pasta. I don’t know how we ever survived before we had a superhero in the family.

Materials: $50, Labor: three nights of indigestion, Seeing your mom way too proud of herself: Priceless

I wish I could be nonchalant, like Batman’s Alfred, but I can’t. I’m awesome! Right? I’ve created a Superhero, for Pete’s sake! I might need to call other parents after Superhero Day to give them the opportunity to tell me how fantastic I am my kid’s costume was. Oh, and Sally says it is perfect. And this superhero is not known for her sugar-coating powers.

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How to Overreact to Starting School

There was this girl who cried every day for the first few weeks of school. It was hard, she didn’t know anyone, and her mommy wasn’t there to help her.

It was me. At college. So perhaps I should have been a bit more mentally prepared when we tried to transition Sally from daycare to preschool last spring and she burned the place down. Okay not really, but it felt that severe as, time and again, she screamed, cried and clung to me until her nails dug into my flesh. On the last “visit” back then, I cried, too (which, FYI, is SO not the way to calm your kid down). I had no idea how to make it better for her. The good news is that if you look us up in the preschool database, a cute red flag pops up that says “AVOID INTERACTION: Mother unstable. Child possessed. Dad poor sucker.”

It was so bad I couldn’t even find any humor in it to blog about. We were seriously dysfunctional! I had made a monster baby who would never go to school! This was worse than the kid at the park who is clearly being raised by local squirrels!

So we quit preschool. We became quitters. We decided to wait until fall and hope that mysteriously, miraculously, she would change. Also, I started to plan how we would pay the mortgage after I had to quit my job to homeschool Freak Child. And how we would protect ourselves from the outside world once we morphed into albino hermits who sweat blood whenever we meet new people.

Sometimes I blow things out of proportion a little bit.

Then we determined we needed spend the summer teaching Sally that she could do new things by herself, and that being around children besides her best friend is actually NOT considered torture in most countries. So we dipped our toe into the world of babysitting (with a good friend . . . baby steps). And she took swim lessons in a small class where I was viewable through glass but she couldn’t get to me. A lot like prison, which is where children who don’t go to school often end up. I had to keep reminding myself of that whenever she looked like she was going to pass out from stress. This was good for her, and me. She has to go to school at some point. I don’t remember a thing about California history or sex ed.—I can’t possibly home school.

She's the rootinest, tootinest cowgirl in the whole preschool.

Guess what? Project Self Esteem and Socialization worked. Well, in all likelihood her brain developed as it would have naturally, but the swim lessons probably didn’t hurt. Over the summer she stopped wanting to leave the park if other kids showed up. The first time she initiated a conversation with another child I nearly peed my pants. Once, a random girl we met was so excited to play that she hugged Sally, (This happens quite a bit. Sally’s aloofness with kids makes her highly desirable.) and this time, her head did NOT spin around 360 degrees! (The Mr. is going to say this paragraph makes Sally seem way weirder than she really is. . . . He’s entitled to his opinion.)

So I felt pretty good heading into the first day of school this week. She’d visited a few times in August, with great results (pretty sure they still radio security when I enter the building, but whatever), and Sally was excited to go to “big kid school.” I was at ease. Well, except for the part where I packed a pound of ice packs into her lunchbox so it would stay cold enough that she wouldn’t get food poisoning from string cheese. . . . And lectured her about where everything was in her backpack. . . . And reminded her 12 times what time I’d pick her up. . . . And told her “You can do it!” every 90 seconds. TOTALLY at ease. Then on the drive, she suddenly said “my tummy hurts” and all I could think was “don’t puke. Don’t puke! Please dear god, DON’T PUKE!”

Prayers work. She didn’t puke.

She was great. She was a pro. And I was more proud of her than ever because I knew what it took her for her to get through that long first day. When I picked her up, she put on a brave face until the car door was closed. Then she moaned “I’m exhausted!” and burst into tears. So I took her home, made her dinner and dessert, let her watch a movie while she huddled on the couch with her blanket, and told her what a great job she did. I suspect she’ll handle college better than I did.