Just Heather

I’ll be clearing a space for that Mother of the Year trophy now. My days have been hectic and crazy since school began. Today, it all finally caught up with me. My day began with Stacia missing the bus. This is no big deal since we live right down the street, but presents a bit of a problem now that Brenia is in kindergarten across town. Montessori starts 10 minutes before public school so I have that amount of time to drop Brenia off and make it back to the other school. Success!

Then I came home with Lorelai. We are only home 1 morning each week so she usually takes a short nap on Wednesdays—playing catch up from the rest of the week. I laid her down at 10am, thinking she’d sleep about an hour which is the most I ever get from her. Kindergarten ends at 11:30 so I’d have plenty of time to change her and get to Montessori after she awoke.

Except she didn’t, until Brenia’s school called wondering where we were! The last time I looked at the clock, it was 10:30. The time didn’t even register when I realized it was the school on the phone. When she said, “We were just calling because Brenia is still here.” I looked up at the clock and freaked out! I grabbed Lorelai, rushed out the door and cried all the way to school.

Worst. Mother. Ever.

Luckily, they have an afternoon program too so she was well cared for. I felt horrible, even though everyone kept reassuring me that she was fine and I wasn’t the first mother to pick her child up 30 minutes late! I guess the good thing is they were very concerned about us. They see me as typically reliable and Brenia’s teacher was convinced I was in some sort of accident on my way to get her.

Brenia didn’t seem to notice how bad I was feeling and was only told that “Mommy was running late.” Now, I have to go get my other daughter before she gets forgotten too!

Our middle child is super tall. Brenia is 4 1/2 and wears a size 6. She is also quite advanced for her age, which comes mostly from her big sister being 5 years older. She’s 4, going on 10. Everyone—including the kindergarten teachers at Stacia’s school—assumes she starts school in August.

She doesn’t start school until 2008. I wish she could go to school this year. It would make a lot of things easier. For one, it would put 4 grades between each of our girls. The way things stand now there are 5 years between Stacia and Brenia, then 3 years between Brenia and Lorelai.

Our school system does not allow early admission for any reason. I actually looked into Montessori schools for this year. They go by ability level, not age. If she goes to school in kindergarten and first grade at a private school, she can attend public school in 2nd grade as the requirement is not age based—it is based on completion of 1st grade. Unfortunately, while our local Montessori school is incredibly affordable for a private school it is still out of our range.

I know she could make it. She’s been with the Daisy troop at camp all week rather than hanging out with my mom and the babies. The other Daisies have just completed kindergarten. She doesn’t start for another year, but you’d never notice a difference. She is right there with them in everything they do. Plus, she is the tallest girl in the group!

That’s the 2nd reason I want her to start this year. I worry that by next year she will not only know everything they teach in kindergarten, but she’ll be so much taller she’ll feel out of place. I know she would fit in this year. It’s really too bad the state of Indiana looks at things with a such a simple mind—age 5 by September 1st no matter what their skills may be.

Stacia is in 3rd grade now, and there is a huge shift in behavior, responsibility and expectations both at school and at home. I’m even seeing a shift in what she watches on television. Last year she would have flipped straight past any live action shows in favor of Sponge Bob or whatever random cartoon she could find. Now she actually watches shows like The Suite Life of Zach and Cody or That’s So Raven.

The responsibility part is something I’m finding difficult. I have always taught my children to make their own decisions on certain things. I take the whole “pick your battles” to an extreme my mom cannot stand. I pretty much save my arguing energy for health and safety issues—food is a big one for me. Clothing? Not so much. They dress themselves every day and I don’t give much thought to how horribly they match other than to hope their teachers get it.

Her third grade teachers have instructed parents not to direct homework. We are allowed to help if they ask, but it is not our job to check and correct their homework, unload their backpacks or make sure it gets back to school. All of that is their job, including getting parental signatures on certain pieces of homework and their daily assignment notebook. They lose recess time and points if it is not returned properly. I struggle so much with not correcting things I see wrong and I have to force myself not to pickup her notebook and sign it on my own.

I have tried to set her up for success the best way I can—I helped her create a schedule of things to do each day and a list of things to pack, as well as asking her each evening and morning if she is packed for school. A couple weeks ago I knew no one had signed her assignment notebook, so I must have asked her 4 times if she was sure she had everything. Yes, yes, yes, yes! She gets home from school and the first words out of her mouth are “Mom! You forgot to sign my assignment notebook!”

“Did you ask me to sign your notebook?” No, so how is that my fault? We added “get parent signatures” to her afternoon list of things to do. Yesterday, she returned her notebook to school sans signature again. Today it sits, along with her unsigned spelling homework, on the kitchen table. I asked last night if she was ready, and again twice this morning. She said yes every time, but as soon as the bus left I found them sitting on the kitchen table. She got as far as opening them in preparation, but never asked me to sign them. It was all I could do to keep from rushing them straight to school.

I think one of the hardest things about being a parent is letting them fail. Even harder is letting them fail without feeling like a failure yourself.

What the hell kind of crappy Mommy blog am I running around here? School started 3 days ago, and have any of you seen first day of school pics? Nope. I’m too focused on the fact that my house now has a floor and a ceiling.

Stacia is in 3rd grade this year, and I am already highly impressed with her new teacher. About 2 weeks before school started, she received a letter in the mail from her teacher introducing herself and including pictures of the classroom. At the ice cream social a week before school began, her teacher was there and new every kid by face. (Someone studied the yearbook!) The room was ready, supplies were laid out, seating arrangements were already marked so the kids could get a good feel for how 3rd grade would start.

Third grade is a big deal—she’s now in the top half of her school. In only 2 years, she’ll be moving on to bigger and better things at the intermediate school. Third grade is so big, in fact, that she is now too mature for first day of school pictures. I was forced to stay up on the shadowy porch lest other kids see the embarrassment of having a mom with a camera. She’s got about 9 more years to get over it. I will have a first day of school picture every year until she graduates. And then I am sure I will follow her to college and take plenty of cheesy pictures there, too. She has her grandma to thank for that.

Thus, I present to you the first day of school pictures I was allowed to take (and 1 more she didn’t see me sneak in!)


Only 7 days until the big yellow bus arrives to separate my children for several hours each day. I can’t decide if I’m excited or sad to see the summer go. On the one hand, I am so sick and tired of the fighting, whining, tattling and general siblingness. On the other, in just a few short weeks I will be sick to death of packing lunches, supervising homework, feeling guilty as I place volunteer requests into the recycle bin, and driving to and from just about everywhere. It’s a trade off, I suppose. A competition of which list gives me the largest headache. The delicate balancing act of parenthood.

Stacia just got on the bus for her first day of school. Ah, the first day of school—new clothes, new backpack, new lunchbox, more school supplies than half the school should need. I, of course, took lots of pictures.

I missed out on getting a picture of her climbing onto the bus this morning. We had a little accident on the sidewalk right about then. A little (hurt-free) antiseptic and an Elmo bandage, and all she could think about was the sucker she had tucked into her backpack. Yes, the little one got one too. She carries toys and diapers around in it everywhere we go.

The girls and I had a fun project this year, instead of buying expensive backpacks. They decorated cheap, solid color backpacks with appliques and ribbons. I’m not so sure how well it’s going to last. A few things already fell off of Stacia’s overstuffed backpack. Luckily, she didn’t seem too upset about it. I promised to help her fix it tonight. Maybe I need to dig out the sewing kit and pretend I know what I’m doing to reinforce the fabric glue we used.

Stacia feigned apprehension last night before bed and again this morning, but she took off for the bus before I could blink. Of course, I was busy trying to catch a two-year-old before she hit the concrete, but I still think she was in a pretty big hurry. When she returns, I’ll get barely a “fine” when I ask about her day. However, by dinner I’ll have heard everything about the day minute by minute.

Remember how excited I was that school was almost starting? Yeah, why didn’t someone remind me of the 50 million things to do, places to be, and meetings to attend. I completely blocked out a rather significant fact about the school year—we have about eleven hundred accompanying activities.

School starts in 2 days. I had my first meeting last night, the one for Girl Scout leaders. It brought everything back in stunning clarity. Free time? Right—the white spaces on my calendar are rapidly disappearing as activity schedules roll in.

  • Kids’ Church Choir—twice a month
  • Brownies—twice a month (being the leader did give me the opportunity to arrange the schedule so these two alternate)
  • Soccer—twice a week
  • PTO Meetings—once a month
  • PTO committees—I begged off this year (maternity leave?)
  • Brownie Leader Meetings—once a month
  • Bible Study—once a week (this one’s for me!)
  • Baby Doctor appointments—every two weeks for now; moves to weekly the last month (that doesn’t even account for the inevitable trips to the pediatrician now that everyone else’s germs will come home with my kid)

That works out to about 5 things each week. How ever did I manage to forget about that? For the foreseeable future my meeting notebook will be permanently grafted to my arm, my chauffer’s cap shall not be removed, and my bottom will be firmly planted in the doctor’s office waiting room. What idiot coined the term stay-at-home mom?

The girls’ week at Camp Grandma’s is almost over. It should feel weird here, I guess, but I’m so busy doing the things I never have time for that I barely notice the quiet. I’ve gotten our bedroom fairly organized in preparation for the office transition. We have no spare bedrooms so baby is taking over the office. He’ll just have to deal with a corner of our bedroom. Of course, that means I can no longer just shut the door on his noise. It’s bad enough I can feel the bass vibrate my bathtub each night when he plays City of Heroes—now I won’t even have an insulated wall between us.

I also finished most of my baby shopping. The only thing left to buy is a crib mattress—seeing as how the old one is still being used on a toddler bed—and the bedding. After that it’s just clothes and diapers. For the rest of my natural life. Speaking of clothes, I also got most of Stacia’s school clothes bought. I discovered all of her skorts and shorts from the spring were still in great shape. Shirts she ruins with gusto, but the shorts seem to have survived. I took them to a few stores and bought some matching tops. I hate this time of year. She needs new school clothes because she destroyed all of last year’s, but I hate spending a lot of money. Because I’m cheap. And because she’ll just need all new clothes again when it cools.

School starts in one week, so it’s good I’m almost ready. Well, I’ve been ready for weeks, but now I almost have her ready too. Tonight I have to go to the Back to School Night. I promised I would go check the class list and see who she knew, since she couldn’t go herself. When I made the offer, I was thinking I’d just pop in and jot down the names I recognized. It occurred to me this morning that this could take a lot longer than I thought. I’m bound to run into everyone I haven’t seen all summer and spend a few minutes catching up with each of them. Such is life in a small town.

That’s all the time I have for catching up here. I’m sure I’ll be posting with more regularity once we get back to a daily schedule.