The Hardest Goodbye

If you are an educator, you might want to skip this post.
Or read it with a parent’s heart in mind.
And please don’t check my grammar.
I know I wasn’t supposed to start a sentence with AND.
Yeah, just skip this post altogether.
Thank you. My friend Melisa just dropped off her last child home at college this week as I am struggling to get my five-year old onto a school bus.
Trust me, the irony is not lost on me.
About the circle of life.

My five-year old hates kindergarten.
There.
I said it.
I know its only a week in.
Give me this.
Unless you have had a sobbing, emotional mess of a child every single day for the past seven days, just give me this.
Please.

 

She did great in preschool.
Not one tear.
The whole year.
She was so excited about starting kindergarten.
At her “sister’s old school“.
And riding the “big girl bus“.
So when on day two, she said, “I don’t want to go to school anymore“, we were as shocked as anyone.
It has been six school days since the “Kindergarten suuuucks” campaign started.
Six.
Long.
Days.

 

Ella doesn't want to go to kindergarten

Like one big friggin band-aid that is taking forever to pull off.
It rips my heart out to put a sobbing child on the bus every day.
I reason: SCHOOL IS GOOD. SCHOOL IS RIGHT.
I thought a lot about homeschooling her this summer and these past six days have pushed those thoughts into the frontal lobe.
But I worry, as I have this whole summer, about not “having it in me”, she won’t sit still, I feel like she needs a stronger teacher than I.
I can barely have her sit still for 15 minutes of homework.
How would I do it all day long?
Would I have the patience?

Then there is the “socialization” issue.
I have many blogging friends who home school and they are all amazing.
In fact, I think I want to have them teach ME about reading, English and Math.
One of my friends, Natasha, wrote the following on her Facebook status on the evening I went to “curriculum night” at my daughter’s elementary school……

Ran into someone tonight who without knowing me for a full five minutes told me that I’m doing a disservice to my children by homeschooling them. Because, wait for it….they won’t be socialized. I’m sure that upon meeting MY kids, they’d change their tune pronto.

Yet I sit at said curriculum night and none of the parents talk to one another.
Oh yes, socialization is a great thing.
And these children, that my child goes to school with, who are being raised by these great social geniuses and can’t even form a smile when you look their way

 

My sweet Ella

The teacher told us that Ella is the only one reacting this way.
Thanks for that, by the way.
Couldn’t you just LIE TO ME???
Don’t you see the desperation in my face and hear the faltering in my voice?
LIE TO ME.
I already feel like a failure as a parent.
Why are all the other kids adjusting well and mine is a blubbering mess each day?
The bus driver tells me that she isn’t the only one.
Which makes me think it might be more about the bus ride than the actual school thing.
I am giving it two more weeks of the bus.
Originally I was going to only give it a week but realistically I know that I need to push her a little.
As hard as this is on my heart, body, everything.

My daughter hates kindergarten

I am so afraid of change.
I see this in Ella.
And I feel guilty that this unfortunate gene passed on to her.
She is reacting this way because of ……me.

I have put away “treats” for her.
Gummy worms, sticker sets, m and m’s.
And pulling them out each afternoon to give to her when she finishes her day.
But if I keep doing this, we will be broke.
And she will be 500 pounds.
So I needed to come up with a plan.

 

Notes of love for a hard time during kindergarten

I asked her what some of her “wishes” are.
What she would love to do if she had her “wish”.
We wrote down ideas like, you pick what we have for dinner! or go get ice cream!

 

Helping Ella weather kindergarten

Then we folded them and put them in a jar on the counter.

 

My chart for kindergarten success

YOU GOT THIS, sweet baby.
I made a chart.

 

Kindergarten reward stickers

And pulled out stickers.

Kindergarten reward chart

For every day she gets through school (hopefully without crying), she gets a sticker.
Then on Friday after school, she gets to draw a piece of paper out of the jar.
And we do what is on the paper.
No excuses.
I can see my waistline expanding a little.
I don’t crappin’ care.
I just want this to work.
To help her.
Because at this point, even the dangling of a reward in her sweet face is not stopping the tears at the bus stop.

Ella on the bus to kindergarten

The teacher talked a lot about “state standards” at the curriculum night.
How the standards are kicked up a notch.
Of course they are.
About how kindergarten isn’t as much about coloring, art projects or cutting but more about reading, READING and more READING.
The year my daughter starts kindergarten.
Of course.
In preparation for a test.
They take in third grade.

For the first time in her life, I felt like my daughter was a number.
A statistic.
And it made me feel ill.
I came home, read Ellie three books, left her room, had two big glasses of wine and sobbed.

 

She said to me before getting on the bus yesterday, “can we just go to the grocery or snuggle in your bed?”
KNIFE TO MY HEART.
I want MY mommy.

Please keep our Ellie in your hearts now.
I am praying for all of your little’s who are going through the same thing as well.
And I am drinking a glass of wine for all you amazing, patient teachers too.

 

33 thoughts on “The Hardest Goodbye

  1. i am mama lola

    ohMama!

    i have kids who cry and struggle in transitions. i get it. hang in there!! that chart is a great idea; kids love visual things and a small goal like that is so do-able.

    feck the curriculum and pressures of that; she will learn and grow and mature, because that's what kids do. you are an amazing mama, who knows her kids best.

    we start school on tuesday.
    there will be tears and not just theirs, cuz separating is hard. transitions are hard.

    XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

  2. Laila @OnlyLaila

    Sending lots of love to you and Ellie through this transition.

    Kindergarten was a rough year for my son, too. When your child knows you are their biggest cheerleader that helps. And having a good relationship with the teacher, having them understand that this is a team effort.

    I think the system you've set up for Ellie is great. Are you able to volunteer in her class? I did this a few times with my son so I could see what his day was like.

    Is there anyone in her class that she has connected with for a playdate?

  3. Sandra

    Big hugs to you, mama! I can relate to everything you mentioned, and it kinda breaks my heart. I definitely will keep the both of you in my thoughts for the next few weeks. I hope Time will help little Ellie feel better. (You know her the best, so trust your gut, Kari.) In the meantime, enjoy your 3 DAY WEEKEND!

  4. Melisa

    Oh my gosh, so hard. Well, at any rate at least you know that she is resistant to change like you are, and as an adult you know that she WILL be fine once she makes the transition. It's just going to take a little longer for her (and by proxy, you.). Sending hugs. Stay strong! (and I'm not dissing anyone who homeschools but I don't think that this tough transition is a reason to homeschool her. This will be fine eventually! xoxo)

  5. Hannah B.

    I hated school so so so much starting around her age. It gave me deep anxiety. My Grandmother gave me a family picture to keep in my desk, and told me I could look at it anytime I felt scared. I remember it gave me a lot of comfort.

    I hope things calm down for your family soon! I know what its like to be an emotional kid. It was very rough, but eventually I adapted and found my place. She will too 🙂

  6. Lori

    Praying for you!! Can so relate…my oldest starts next year and I'm trying to prepare him to be READY for kindergarten. There is SO MUCH pressure already on kids. It's ridiculous. We're going slow and I'm just trying to make it as fun and light as possible.

  7. Lizzy

    Oh, my. My heart breaks for you and your sweet girl.

    As a kindergarten teacher, believe me when I say that I see this every year. With the kids that hadn't been a way from home, with the kids that were in preschool half days, and with the kids that were in preschool or at day care all day. It is so normal. Kindergarten is SUCH a big change! A lot of times, it is the bus that is the scariest part, because it is so new. And, I know your heart is breaking, but it does get better!

    Each year, I have at least 2 kiddos that cry for the first two or three weeks at school (not all day, but off and on all day). On the first day that a kiddos is crying, I email Mom & Dad to get a family photo to keep at their desk, or in their pocket (or a combination of both). I also ask parents to send a "lovey" or a security blanket to keep in the backpack…and that the kiddo can go get a hug from it whenever s/he needs to (it just has to stay in the backpack).

    I'm sad to hear that the teacher made note of how kindergarten is all about reading. 🙁 While standards for kindergarten have become beefier, kindergarten really is learning about how to be at school, how to love school, and making friends.

    In my six years as a kindergarten teacher, I have not seen a child cry all day, every day. And I have not seen a child cry past the third-ish week of school. I have seen pictures on desks, blankies in backpacks and LOTS and LOTS of hugs from the teacher.

    I hope that, as the year gets underway, that your sweet girl loves school!

    Love to all of you!

  8. Heather

    Wow. My heart aches for you and your baby girl. I cannot imagine how it will be if my boy is like that when he goes to Kindergarten next year. I can't quit my job, but I know it'll be tempting if it's anything like what you're describing. Hang in there and hold on to the hope that Lizzy is offering above! I will remember sweet Ella in my thoughts and prayers.

  9. CheapD

    So last week I replied, maybe she is tired, and that isn't helping the situation. I totally feel like an ass now. I meant it to help, not like some nosey mother in law who always tries to tell you that you are parenting wrong. I know you are hurting and doing everything you can for your girl. I hope you can find the real issue and she can grow to love school. I also hope that you two can make some wonderful special memories from all of her encouraging treats. BIG HUGE HUG to both of you!!

  10. Sara

    Ok, so I'm gonna be the different one and suggest that maybe you COULD homeschool her for kindergarten? I am for my five year old this year and so far she is loving it!! And it's super easy, I just got some kindergarten books and some fun stuff for her to do. Even if you never want to homeschool again, you could still do kindergarten with her and never be a bit behind. Some kids are just not ready to leave mom and home and go out by themselves. And no worries about the social part, just make sure she gets social stuff other times like in the afternoons and things. Just an idea. Hope it gets better for you both.

  11. Michelle Lunt

    Sweet Kari, Thanks for sharing this personal post. If you only knew how many times I've cried because I felt like a failure at the most important thing in the world to me – being a good parent! BUT I am often reminded that if I haven't quit, I haven't failed! You are such a sweet mama to little Ellie & she is blessed that you love her & care so much. I love the reward system you came up with. BRILLIANT! As I was reading this, I wondered about the bus as well & then in the next sentence you brought it up. Are there older kids on the bus? Also, here in Utah – kindergarten is only "half day" – which I think is an easier transition. Six hours (give or take) is an eternity for a little child! One thing that helped with my son: I would give him something of mine to hold on to at school – for instance a scarf that he kept in his backpack. I'm holding you close in my heart! Please let us know how it goes.
    Warmly, Michelle

  12. Michelle Lunt

    Sweet Kari, Thanks for sharing this personal post. If you only knew how many times I've cried because I felt like a failure at the most important thing in the world to me – being a good parent! BUT I am often reminded that if I haven't quit, I haven't failed! You are such a sweet mama to little Ellie & she is blessed that you love her & care so much. I love the reward system you came up with. BRILLIANT! As I was reading this, I wondered about the bus as well & then in the next sentence you brought it up. Are there older kids on the bus? Also, here in Utah – kindergarten is only "half day" – which I think is an easier transition. Six hours (give or take) is an eternity for a little child! One thing that helped with my son: I would give him something of mine to hold on to at school – for instance a scarf that he kept in his backpack. I'm holding you close in my heart! Please let us know how it goes.
    Warmly, Michelle

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