Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Am I the only one?

Just when I was getting the hang of being a stay-at-home-mom, Cody started going to school. I then entered the realm of school moms. These are in the ranks of soccer moms...etc. School moms have a whole new set of duties. No longer is it an option for the kids to wear pyjamas all day, or to wake up when they are ready. Now we have to get them up, sometimes too early, (though rarely, because let's face it, we're talking about young kids here, not teenagers, so they are usually awake well before us), and get them dressed in daytime clothes. Not just any clothes either. You can't just send them to school in stained t-shirts and ripped jeans. You have to find the nice clothes and use those on the school days. That brings a new level of urgency to the laundry department. Now that it's June, I have eased off on my wardrobe rules. Okay, ever since April. All of Cody's jeans have holes in them. Every. Single. Pair. And I don't mean small holes. I'm talking about giant rips in both knees. But I just can't buy any more jeans. I have bought upwards of eight pairs of really nice jeans for him this school year, and this is waht happens. So I am on strike. I will not buy any more jeans this school year. I can't afford to. So he has a lot of options each morning on what to wear. His drawer is overflowing with really nice jeans. With giant holes in them. And he can wear whichever pair he wants! Even some of his t-shirts are getting holes, and don't get me started on the food stains. Maybe if he would use a paper towel instead of his shirt to wipe his hands and face every time he eats. Oh well.  

While they are dressing, you have to make lunches. What's that? You say I should make them the night before? That would be great, except my kids want peanut butter sandwiches, and to make those too early results in something disgusting and inedible. I am not good at making lunches either, but I get the job done. Not once have I sent my kids to school without their lunches. Not yet. And though it's a panic almost every single day, we almost always get them on the bus on time. 

When they get home, you have to make sure you have something yummy and substantial to put in their mouths the instant they get in the door, or they will have giant meltdowns and beat on each other. I am not good at this. I'd say about ten per cent of the time, I have a great snack awaiting them. The other 90% of the time, I just hope they don't say they are hungry. This backfires 100% of the time. And once the snacking tapers off, there is homework. 

Here is my confession. Since Cody started Jr Kindergarten, (yes, that's the year before Kindergarten, similar to preschool but far better), I have seen the other moms and as is typical of me, I perceived them all as superior to me. I put them in that "mom box" that I had in my mind and figured they were all doing it right and I was not sure whether I could. They volunteered to help in all kinds of situations, and I felt overwhelmed. I wondered what was wrong with me. Then I decided it was because I had two younger kids. Cody was only four and a half when he started in Jr. Kindergarten, and I also had a three year old and a one and a half year old to chase. As it turns out, there were other moms with younger kids too and they seemed to hold it together just fine. And so I have been left asking myself the question, "Is it just me? Am I the only one who finds this hard? Are my kids the only ones who do..." fill in the blanks. 

Recently, Jamie has had homework. Jamie is now in Jr. Kindergarten, and they get these cute little packages called Alpha Bags sent home every Kinder day. (At least, I think that's what they are called. See what a slacker I am?) The bags each have a theme of one letter of the alphabet. They contain a little poster of that letter, plus a foamy letter, and a book about that letter. The student's job is to read the book, and add an item to the bag beginning with that letter, and then return it to the teacher in exchange for another bag. In a normal family, here's an example of how that might go down: 

An alpha bag comes home with the letter D. The child and his mom (or dad, whatever), read the book, examine the items in the bag and hunt through the house for another item. Oh, look! A toy dinosaur. Let's put it in the bag and return it to the teacher! 

In my house: The first Alpha Bag comes home. It's the letter N. We skim the book. Okay, everybody skims the book. It is only about eight pages long with only one word and one picture on each page. Then we talk about what we can add to the bag. Nachos? No. We don't have any nachos, and it's probably a bad idea anyway. Nest? I don't have any nests handy. At this point, I kind of fizzle out because it's bedtime. We put the kids to bed and I forget about the bag. The next day that Jamie has school, I open his backpack to get it ready and see the Alpha Bag. Oh no! Now I am panicking. What starts with N? (By the way, part of the challenge of this activity is that you do not get the items back, so you can't just throw in their favourite toy that starts with the appropriate letter. You have to find something you don't mind parting with.) At the last second, I find an item. It's a nail. Yes! Wait, that might be kind of sharp for a bunch of four and five year olds...oh well. It starts with N, and that's what the assignment said. So I tossed the nail into the bag and happily sent it along to school. I wondered whether the other parents would notice, or find it disturbing. I also wondered whether the teacher was monitoring these bags to figure out who sent what. I sincerely hoped not. 

The next bag that came home was the F bag. It contained two things that concerned me. One, a ziplock bag of Frosted Flakes. And two, a ziplock bag of Fruit Loops. Oh great. After the first Alpha Bag, every time one came home, it disappeared. Into thin air. Pieces of it would be found, but never the whole thing intact. And I did try keeping them aside so I would not encounter this problem, but my Dynamic Duo are unstoppable. Have I mentioned that before? What started to happen was that my Alpha Bags were not getting returned on time, so then Jamie would bring another one home and I'd have two to keep track of. On the worst day, he had three. Wow. I had to wonder, was he the only kid in his class whose mother could not handle the Alpha Bags? Worse yet, was he the only kid in his class who returned them with missing items? The Fruit Loops disappeared and were never seen again. The Frosted Flakes were significantly fewer in numbers than when he received the bag. And one day, I found a drawing of a little girl's family, also part of the F bag. Oops. I had to return it on its own with a note attached. I guess we did get the hang of the bag. It's just that for us, F stood for Fail. 

Sometimes I just wonder whether we are the only ones. Are other mothers failing with the Alpha Bags? Do their children eat the items from the bags? Do they also hurriedly print a picture of clip art to shove into the bag five minutes before the bus arrives on school mornings? Or am I the only mother who can't seem to pull it together? And this is only Junior Kindergarten, a program that doesn't even exist in most places. Next year, Jamie will be in Senior Kindergarten and Micah will be in Junior. That means they will each be bringing home Alpha Bags. We could end up with as many as six at a time. We could monopolize a quarter of the entire alphabet. I have noticed that Jamie has not brought home any new Alpha Bags lately. Maybe they have noticed how he hoards them. I returned two this morning. Q and H. What kind of items start with Q that you can put in a ziplock bag? I printed a picture of a porcupine and wrote QUILLS on it. I did notice that the book in the H bag was missing a page. I rejoiced in this, because the page was already missing when we got it. That means at least one other mom out there takes away from the bag instead of adding to it. Cheers to you, whoever you are. Let us rejoice in the nearness of the end of the school year.

1 comment:

Allison said...

No, you are not the only one! I'm pretty sure I'd eat something from the bags and then put the wrong things back in the wrong bags, confusing the next poor kid trying to figure it out :-) I fail to keep myself organized never mind any kids coming in the future. Should be fun!!! I'm hoping Kelly's organization and planning will rub off on me or he'll take over that part of life. You're a great mom with healthy happy crazy boys!