This here bringer of the pooper to the fun party

The first nudge toward the edge of the nest

A couple of weeks ago I accompanied Leta to her kindergarten orientation where we met with her teachers and explored the various areas and features of her classroom, and y’all, there is a princess castle! IN HER ROOM! I mean, it’s not an Official Princess Castle brought to you by Hasbro or Disney or whatever, it’s just a set of wooden steps leading up to a balcony of sorts, but she didn’t know the difference and thought we were taking a tour of Heaven.

It is a magnificent kindergarten classroom, as far as kindergarten classrooms go, with tons of colorful letters and numbers on the wall, and blocks and games AND BOOKS! DON’T FORGET THE BOOKS! Mom, there is a whole box of chapter books, I just love chapter books, that’s what she kept repeating to me for three days straight, and when she’d go to open her mouth at any point during those three days I’d hold my index finger to her mouth and go LET ME GUESS! CHAPTER BOOKS! NOTED!

And then she’d gingerly remove my finger and go BUT I LOVE THEM!

I sat down with one of her teachers for a good half hour to go over classroom policies, and when the topic of lunch came up, I’ll just go ahead and be honest, I tried to change the subject. Because maybe once or twice this past week I have walked outside onto the deck in our backyard, far enough away from everything so that no one could hear me and yelled OH MY GOD I DIDN’T THINK I’D EVER LOSE THREE AND A HALF FUCKING YEARS OF MY LIFE TO HOW MANY FUCKING BITES OF THIS FUCKING BURRITO DOES SHE HAVE TO FUCKING EAT, but there they went.

A mother’s rant brought to you lovingly by three months of sleep deprivation.

I got really nervous because we once applied to a preschool before knowing that they had a really strict policy about lunch. Like, kids couldn’t pack anything processed in their lunches, and everything had to be fresh, don’t even think about sneaking in a fruit snack. Let’s just say we didn’t get our $50 application fee back.

So I’m looking around the room nervously, thinking oh no, oh no, please no, not the topic of food, and before I pass out from anxiety I just throw it out there, way out in the open, like unleashing a bull from its pen, I go LETA IS A REALLY PICKY EATER. With enough emphasis to communicate that she would rather starve herself to death before eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Because bread is just the grossest thing ever, you can quote her on that.

And her teacher, without skipping a beat, she waves her hand in the air and says, “Oh, they all are.” And then she moved on to something else. Like, no big deal, we see it all the time. I wanted to start bawling from the relief, it felt exactly like every appointment we’ve had with her pediatrician who starts by taking a cursory glance at Leta, and then he turns to me and Jon and says, “Are you okay?” Like he genuinely wants to make sure we aren’t four seconds away from falling over dead.

Drop off on the first day was as difficult as I thought it would be, she clung to my arm as if she were drowning, and even though I stayed for a good twenty-five minutes and watched her climb the princess castle seven hundred times, when it was time for me to leave she was frantic. And I knew exactly how she felt, I remember the panic I experienced when my mother left me in that strange room all those years ago, but I finally knelt down and took the hand I had just used to wipe the tears from my face to wipe the ones on hers. And I handed her off to the teacher.

I lingered outside her room for just a bit and looked in to make sure that she settled in okay, and within seconds she was sitting calmly with the other kids on the colored mat in the middle of the room, a sea of little heads starting the next chapter in their lives.

First day of kindergarten

When I picked her up that afternoon she ran to me, my little girl who we once thought might never walk, and wrapped her arms around my neck so ferociously that I couldn’t breathe. And when she finally released her embrace she said, “Mom, can I tell you a secret?” And then in her trademark yell/whisper she grabbed my ear and screamed I LOVE MY SCHOOL AND I PLAYED ON THE COMPUTERS AND THE PRINCESS CASTLE AND I JUST LOVE IT SO MUCH! And then as we held hands and walked to the car she talked about the lunch room and the big tables and the playground and her friend with the yellow hair and the other one with the brown hair but it was much shorter than hers, and IT’S OKAY TO TAKE A BREATH, LETA.

It felt like a Volkswagon commercial, here I am this disheveled suburban mom buckling in her kid who WILL NOT STOP TALKING, and it’s adorable, yes, but then all the words start to blend together, and the dialogue did not stop as I closed her door and walked around to the front of the car, I could still see her lips moving.

When I opened my door and climbed in it was still going on, the paragraphs and paragraphs of kindergarten awesomeness filled every available inch of space in the car. And I sat there for a second looking at her in the rearview mirror and thought, we just did it. We just lived that day together, she and I, we just took that monumental next step forward, and I’m so glad that I got to do it with her. And years from now when we’ve met for dinner and a glass of wine, we’ll talk about this day specifically. And I won’t even bring up the burritos.

  • Caitlin

    I sometimes forget how very young Leta is, and think she’s 8 or 9. Maybe it’s because she sounds like an older, wiser soul when you write about her. Glad kindergarten turned out well; I’m 20 and still miss my mom when I go off to college. I guess we’ll always miss our moms, huh?

  • Stacey

    i just got all teary-eyed…thinking about the future and my daughter, alternating saying: “wahhhhh….why does she have to grow up?” and in the next breath — “weeeeeeeh — i can’t wait until she grows up and we can have a glass of wine together or cook together and/or talk about men together…, etc.” wow. thanks.

  • Stacey

    I have tears in my eyes. I have seen my kids off on the bus everyday since kindergarten. They are now in 6th and 8th grade. This year, I walked them to the bus stop accompanied by much eye rolling and wincing when they saw I brought the camera. Too grown up for photo ops. But then, as the bus pulled away, I saw my daughter’s face in the window smiling at me, all proud and nervously excited for her first day of middle school. The little buggers can get to you at any age.

  • Anna

    Talking about quantum leaping….next thing you know, you’ll hear that she’s secretly eating broccoli and peanutbutter/jelly sandwiches with her friends…..
    She looks so ready to meet that big world.

  • Stacey

    p.s wtf #41?

  • Twyla

    Tears……….

  • That is really sweet! I love the part about the pediatrician asking the parents if they are OK. Very funny, but oh so true, at least it was with us too.

    & I love the photo of Leta. Oh my gosh what a little darling.

  • meet for dinner and a glass of wine? What are you going to stop drinking bourbon by then?

  • Mx

    you… are awesome

  • Amanda Whitesides

    I just went through this two weeks ago with my little girl – she’s one of the reasons that I love your site so much, being just a few months younger than Leta! The only difference was, on our end, I was the only one with the tears, and Kaya couldn’t wait to start this new chapter! Aaack!

    So, you totally made me cry again. Bitch!

    Unfollow! (lol)

  • stacy

    Your appreciation of where you are now with Leta, and your family, keeps me going.
    you know what that means.
    thank you.

  • michelle

    Wow, 41 you are such a complete TOOL! Not sure what your deal is, and why you feel the need to spread your stupidity and hatred, but take it elsewhere. By the way, you are the only “Asshead” around here…..such a stupid word, moron!

  • It’s so weird…It’s like every blog I read has a little one going to kindergarten this year, including mine. I feel like if I had just popped my head out of my hospital room … there you would have been! Sounds like you handled this day MUCH better than I did though!

  • awe… what a cutie-pie!!
    Kindergarten is such a fun time…. cherish all the moments!

    xo Laura

  • I much enjoy your writing. You give all of us moms the sense that what we go through is normal.
    Kindergarten is the hardest:( First grade will be better… I promise.
    I know you are busy, but If you ever get a chance please stop by my blog at http://mommyspaceblog.blogspot.com
    Thanks for making being a mom… a little bit easier 🙂
    Tawnia

  • JennKD

    She is going to learn and grow so much this year – it’s going to blow your mind. My little future cheerleader/American Idol winner changed to deciding she wanted to be a scientific (sic) when she grows up.

    Holy crap, what? And yes, awesome.

  • Wasn’t going to comment; so rarely do, even though I enjoy this blog so very much; I just feel my thoughts are already conveyed by the many responders, but I gotta say, #41, who’s calling who the kettle black? Good grief. If you really believe what you say about Katie & Jon, etc, why do you even bother to come and read? Constructive criticism is always welcome, but downright nastiness? No purpose, other than to show what a complete dick you are.

    And since I’m here anyway, Heather – perfectly adorable story. Love your rendition of Leta’s first day of school. Always wondered how that was going to go. Such a little sweetheart. You and Jon done good.

  • Oh, Lord. I may be all of 4 days pregnant, if I’m even pregnant at all, and I’m reading your post and going, “Oh! What will I DO when I have to drop them off?” And then I’m going, “She REMEMBERS her first day of school? I don’t. Do most people? Did I block it out because it was so horrible? Or did it just seem so insignificant? My mom and I never talked about it. Maybe we should. But what if she doesn’t remember?” So, thank you for that. And Leta is so super sassy.

  • Dawn

    My daughter started kindergarten last week and, although it is the same school as her preschool class, we had all the excitement of the new classroom, new teachers, and so on. She does love chapter books, but in our case, it was the “TREAURE BOX, Mama, did I tell you about the TREASURE BOX?” that she couldn’t stop talking about (if they are good all week, they get to pick a prize out of the box on Fridays before leaving – Happy Meal toys and so on). Luckily, we aren’t dealing with lunch, as she only goes half days. Congrats to Leta on a successful first day!

  • I rarely comment, BUT Leta is wearing the shirt I sent you many months ago! I’m so excited!

  • Diana

    Yes, #41, why don’t you grow some BALLS (and a brain while you’re at it) and give your real name. What a waste of space and energy you are. And fucking stop reading this blog if you hate her so much. Jesus, I hate people like you.

    Heather, what a lovely post, you brought tears to my eyes.

  • My almost six-years-old granddaughter, Miss Maya, just started kindergarten too -about two weeks ago now. She’d been in a special preschool program for the past 27 months for kids with autism and/or special needs. She did well in that program and thus far, is doing quite well in the adjustment to a full-day kindergarten program. She does not however ride the big school bus but rather we opted to have her ride the special needs bus, at least for this year or until she adapts a bit more, socially, and has more maturity needed to cope with all the older kids there. The only thing she really doesn’t like so far -is the amount of noise that her bus make! She would rather go back to riding the van with the soft music she says. In class though, the biggest problem the teacher has is getting her to let other children answer questions and for her NOT to take on the role of the TEACHER! Yeah, she is a tad on the bossy side at times.
    Enjoy watching her learn and adjust, learn and adjust. It’s a wonderful transition to see it all in action, isn’t it?

  • I am taking notes right now, because if my child is anything like me, she will be exactly like Leta (minus the picky eating, because I used to eat everything I could see, and some things never change) and I will need a) a parenting guide, b) therapy, and c) a strong vodka cocktail. Hopefully by then you will have written another book entitled “How To Raise Your Crazy Child” and I will have excerpts of it tattooed on my arms.

    xo

  • laurie

    “…a sea of little heads starting the next chapter in their lives” has got to be one of the most beautiful lines you’ve written!

  • Amy

    That is really sweet. She’s such a precious girl. I’m very happy for you.

  • Congratulations to Leta on being a Kindergartener! What a great time in life. And congrats, Heather, on surviving the first day without totally falling apart. I believe I cried nonstop for two hours on my daughter’s first day of kindergarten. Its so hard to let them take those first tottering steps toward adulthood.

  • Julie

    Congratulations to both of you on the first day of Kindergarten! You have a way of always managing to make me laugh and cry at the same time…thank you:) I look forward to sharing a day like this some time in my future. Keep up the wonderful stories!

  • Thanks for letting me know what I have to look forward to! BIG sigh…..Congratz Leta! You did it! Don’t blink. Tommorow she’ll be graduating!

  • Keelie

    What a GREAT first day story!! So glad to hear she is loving it already. And what a sharp ‘first day of kindergarten’ outfit. Here’s hoping she has this much passion for the rest of her school days!

  • Meg

    Congrats on making it through. My oldest is 3 and I am already dreading the first day of school.

    Did you skip preschool all together?

    Just curious because that will be our next hurdle, shopping around and weighing the ridiculous cost of preschool to the question of, is there even really a benefit to preschool?

    Congrats again. Hope the rest of the week goes just as good for you and Leta!

  • Elaine

    There is so much to love about this post. My personal faves:

    Someone else has a picky eater that has cost them years of their life? I thought it was just me.

    My little dude starts kindergarten next year and I cannot wait.

    My mom and I just got together for wine last night, with mutual friends, and it is such an amazing thing to have someone who raised me turn in to one of my very best friends.

    Awesome blog, again 🙂

  • Totally, perfectly, wonderfully, AWESOME!! My Weston started kindergarten last wednesday, I know the feelings! Great job Mom! and go Leta! Princess castles, chapter books and yellow haired friends are what kindergarten in all about..my Weston met a nice orange haired friends too 🙂

  • Jelena M

    Dammit, woman, you just made me cry…

  • susan

    As a kindergarten teacher and a mom, thank you so much for writing this. It is such a huge, important and emotional step. And, I am also scared shitless about the day I walk my baby to school even though I’ll be right down the hall. Thank you so much for describing it all perfectly.

  • –>That is so exciting that she did so well. What did she eat for lunch after all?

  • My own daughter is 19 now, and yet you took me right back to that kindergarten room all those years ago and I cried all over again. It may have something to do with her frantic call to me last night at 1AM on her way to the emergency room, but let’s just pretend it’s nostalgia.

  • I still take my daughter’s picture on the first day of school — she’s a senior this year.

  • KelGar

    Please tell me they make those shoes in adult sizes. SO CUTE!

  • Kelly

    SO CUTE- Wondering what kind of shoes Leta is wearing and if I can get some in boy colors…

  • Kelly

    Gosh, Heather, you are such a k*cking awesome Mom. You are so present. My baby is in the ‘glass of wine and reminisce’ stage now, and I wish I had been more aware of just how magnificent it is, and how life moves at the speed of light. Never too late, though, right? Thanks.

  • Lynne

    You are beautiful, Heather. This touched me so so much. Thanks.

  • Louise

    OMG!!! “Asshead” Really! Might be my new favorite word. Lol. UNFOLLOW!

  • Shelah

    At the end of your entry, I was reminded when I dropped off my daughter at college 2000 miles from home. Same emotions, same tears, same concerns. You don’t get better at it, but you’ve got to keep doing it. Thanks for sharing a beautifully written post.

  • Ack. This brought tears to my eyes, and I don’t even have kids.

    You guys are making it! Big congratulations to you!

  • Kassie

    Heather, it’s been so amazing “being there” as your life unfolds. I can’t tell you how excited and thrilled I am about Leta’s first day of school. Congratulations!!

    P.S. Has anyone told you lately that you and Jon make the CUTEST babies?!?

  • Jennifer

    I’m bawling just thinking about the beautiful emotion I’ll have with my own child’s first day of kindergarten. Thanks for sharing this first day with us too.

  • Awww, I’m so glad she loves her kindergarten! My kindergarten most definitely did not have a princess castle. Actually, I only really remember the jump rope. And the test where I was supposed to draw a picture of a cot, but I drew a picture of me catching a butterfly instead (caught). That missed test question caused me so much anxiety.

    Leta looks like a such a big girl!

  • Kelli

    So, I just dropped my daughter off at college and took my son to his first day of kindergarten. Talk about a strange place to be. (And can I just say no one should have to pay for college and a nanny at the same time….I am an IDIOT!)

    Our son is in a spanish immersion kindergarten and we have spent many sleepless nights wondering if we made the right decision for him, how will it go, how will we relate….

    Know what, it is perfection! And I know that because I had to keep him home today with a fever and there were MANY tears, because he didn’t feel THAT bad…

    Smile.

    Two down, one to go…

  • Katie

    I am sure you are very proud of Miss. Leta. She is very beautiful and sounds very smart! I can’t believe she is a kindergartener now! TIME FLIES!

    I do have to ask – does she really only eat burritos and refried beans? That just doesn’t seems right at all. LOL. I am not dissing you at all – because I know for a fact how hard it is to get a kid to eat anything they don’t want to eat. I just remember watching this episode of True Stories of the ER where some kid came in with rickets because all he’d eat was oatmeal.

    It would certainly make for an interesting blog post – but I would hate to see Leta with the rickets. 🙂

  • jeanine

    Congrats ~ you made it! This is the reward for the journey of the last 5 years, and from the looks of it, the love of learning you seem to exhibit is shining through in your big girl.