Kindergarten Woes

I ask my son about every other day if he’s excited to go to Kindergarten. He is. It doesn’t seem to bother him that the majority of his daycare friends will all be going to a different school. He has three daycare classmates that will be in his kindergarten. He will know three kids. Three.

Kids are so resilient, aren’t they? A new experience, a slight disruption – while it breeds some hesitation, it also breeds excitement and anticipation.

Me, on the other hand, I’m dreading it. We’ve been in a nice cocoon at daycare. I know the moms in his class – which ones I like and which I don’t. I know which kids are the trouble makers and which are the nice quiet ones you want to have over for a Saturday AM playdate. My daycare mom friends and I bonded over shared experiences of bottle feeding, potty training, and preschool learning. My social life with my mom’s group is as comfortable as a warm fleece blanket that just came out of the dryer.

Kindergarten?! A whole new ballgame. No “drop offs” or “pick ups” with other parents. I’ll be shepherding my kid onto a bus where he’ll be off to meet new friends. He’ll come home with stories of kids I have never met. He’ll want to make friends and play with new kids. And I’ll have to let him.

So it’s a new experience for both of us. At orientation night, the discussions were geared toward stay at home moms who were leaving their kids for the first time. Yeah, I lived through that experience when my son was six months. Over five years I’ve watched as he has grown into an independent self thinker, with intellect, empathy, and a passion for learning. I won’t have to worry about him clinging to my leg on the first day of school.

No, I’m certain I’ll be watching teary eyed as he charges forward, bravely accepting the new opportunities and challenges that await him. And in that spirit, I will have to accept my own.



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The 26 hour day

No joke, I once worked a 26 hour day. Yeah, I started at 8 AM one day and worked until 10 AM the next day. It was a bit of heaven and hell all wrapped into one. No joke. Of course I was much younger, had no kids, and was at the start of my career – bright eyed and bushy tailed.

To be honest, I’d do it all over again. Big pitch? Critical to the company? You need me? I’m there. That said, there was something special about this 26 hour day…2 more hours than the norm!

I have a theory. If I could add two hours to my day and turn the average day into 26 hours, I would be all set. I would have the time I need to get everything done. Right now my life is a series of trade offs. Sleep for working out. Laundry for work. Work for time with my husband. Time with kids for dishes. Late night Facebook with friends over mid-day telephone calls. There is never enough time, no matter how organized or motivated I get.

All I can do sometimes is take a deep breath and hang on tight. It’s a wild ride, day in and day out. But I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, except maybe for that darn time change that creeps up on me twice a year.

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Birthdays of epic proportions

I bring it on myself. I recognized this as I was planning my son’s fifth birthday. He was over the top about his Star Wars party, and therefore, so was I. There is nothing more special in my book than a kids’ birthday party. Someday I hope my kids look back and say “My mom always really tried to make us feel like we were the most special kid in the Universe on our birthday.” No joke, that’s what I strive for. Making them feel like they rule the world. Well, maybe like they rule THEIRworld.  Combine that goal with my over-the-top, type A, neurotic personality and a bit of competitive spirit, well, there you have it. I run myself into the ground. And it’s all worth it.

Look at that smile! How could you resist that?

The planning starts days months beforehand. I finish up my daughter’s birthday in early March and switch gears to my son’s. Not an easy task, when you consider between the two birthdays I also have to contend with my husband’s, dad’s and mom’s birthday, plus mother’s day and father’s day. Add in a full time+ job, work travel, a household to keep running, and daycare to contend with…let’s just say it’s busy. And it’s all worth it.

Birthday parties yield many late nights – decorations, food, cake, cake pops, kid favors, games, themes, all have to be planned, made, done, organized. Music has to be bought or downloaded. Wardrobe has to be planned (I mean, how could you have a Star Wars party without a Star Wars t-shirt for the birthday boy – what kind of mother would I be? Note: that required a stop to get an extra gift.) So yes, I bring it on myself. And it’s all worth it.

Thanks to Old Navy for always having a good selection of character shirts!

The year my son turned three he got up from his nap and looked out his window at a magical kids playland, filled with slip and slides, pools, beach balls, bikes, and a graffiti of outdoor toys. He came running downstairs, looked at me, and said “Mama, I just saw the BEST birthday party outside”. Mission accomplished.
At four, we recreated a similar playland. He woke up from his nap, ran to his window, and said “Mama, my friends are going to think this is the best party ever! They are never going to want to leave”. Mission accomplished.

At five, we created a smaller playland and switched focus to the theme and games. This wasn’t about him running to the window, it was about surprising him and his friends with the experience. It was about Yoda Soda, Light Saber pretzel rods, Death Star Cake Pops (that I found in our spare fridge a day later – never said I was perfect), Yoda’s cookies (that required a stop at Starbucks to beg for green tea powder and cookies that didn’t get eaten), two cakes (one evil, one good), and Princess Punch. And then the real fun stuff  – light sabers made out of pool noodles (special thanks to my husband who thought to add the duct tape and draw an on/off button on them), a Jedi training camp, renting a Darth Vader suit for my husband, all creating an experience with Star Wars theme songs playing in the background.

A lot of mom hours went into the food selection!I had to send a Facebook APB out the night before to figure out which cake Luke went on and which cake Vader went on!

All in all, I think I put about 50 hours into researching, planning, and executing the party. I’m honestly not kidding. It was days’ worth of work, thinking, and planning. Oh, and the Darth Vader rental? I had the bright idea of letting the kids use silly string to fight the evil force, requiring a good 45 minutes of cleaning the “rental suit” after.

Dad made a great Darth Vader! It took a while for both kids to realize it wasn't the real Darth Vader!He was down for the count. So was the costume!

But in the end it was his day, and one I knew wouldn’t be forgotten anytime soon. I asked him about it that night. “Mama, that party was so cool, I think I want a Star Wars party every year”.

Oh fabulous, it will only take me 75 hours to figure out how to top that one! Better start now.

He's a fantastic little man and deserved every minute of his big Star Wars party!