He’s only five. I’ve been telling myself this since Lil’ P’s first day of Kindergarten on Tuesday. Some people can manage to keep their children’s antics under wraps so they can maintain some level of public propriety. I’m a teacher at my children’s school, and they tell everything, especially the fact that their father and I have earned lifelong spots on Santa’s naughty list because we cuss too much. I have no secrets.
For whatever reason, this year’s first week of school has felt like an episode of Survivor, and I’m the one about to be voted off the island. Since I haven’t managed to find an Immunity Idol yet, I’ll share the survival kit I’ve put together to keep myself alive in this parenting game to play another week.
My son couldn’t wait to wear his snake shirt that my mother bought him for the first day of school. She thinks it’s hilarious that her daughter, with a pathological fear of snakes, gave birth to a son who is obsessed with them. It wasn’t too funny when, at 6:30 a.m. on the first day of Kindergarten, a smell akin to ox flatulence and dead muskrats filled my kitchen. My son had apparently snuck outside while I was trying to procure a second serving of caffeine. He was standing by the stove wearing the snake skin he found in the woods a week before. Like a stole. On his new shirt. I screamed him and the snake skin out the door, while I got the Febreze locked and loaded. I would have preferred Lysol, but I had panicked and emptied the last bottle on him when he found the stupid snake skin in the first place. This time, I at least stripped him down before sanitizing his clothes. I had high hopes of maintaining that new Kindergartener smell for at least the first hour or two of school.
I used to carry one of these in my purse and wave it around threateningly to keep my son from running into the street when he was younger. By 6:45 a.m. on the first day of school, I busted it out for a completely different purpose. Lil’ P. came running into the kitchen while I was making pancakes for the perfect back to school breakfast. He was begging me to come see the “caterpiwwars” he found. I headed to the front door, expecting to find them on the porch. Instead he led me to the living room. He gestured to our couch and informed me, “I bringed them inside because it’s too hot, and I wanted them to be comfy.” When I told him to take them outside, he began to stomp his feet and whacked his third grade sister in frustration. While he was crumpled in a dramatic heap on the floor, I realized I had the spatula in my hand. I used it to scoop up Lil’ P’s three new friends and fling them off the deck. I stomped back into the house and shook the spatula menacingly at Lil’ P. He stopped wailing long enough to inquire, “Mama, is all this reawwy necessary?” This new favorite response of his gets me every time. I took my spatula and left the room. I did remember to wash the thing before I flipped the next round of pancakes.
Lil’ P’s Kindergarten teacher sent us home from Open House with a poem to read about the Night Before Kindergarten and some confetti to sprinkle under his pillow for a good first day. We had read the poem and sprinkled some glittery stuff under Lil’ P’s and Lil’ K’s pillows the previous night. Lil’ P. had meltdown number two at 7:25 a.m. while I was desperately trying to get everyone out the door. He flipped out because he suddenly wanted me to unearth his light-up shoes instead of the sandals he picked out while we were loading up the pillow with confetti. Before I could retrieve the spatula from the sink to shake at him, our crackhead dog charged in through the open door. She barreled over my school bag and scattered our freshly prepared lunches all over the floor. She had the snakeskin in her mouth. I dropped some words that I swear peeled the wall paint a little and secured my spot on Santa’s naughty list for at least three more lifetimes. Lil’ K. looked over at me and sighed. “Mama,” she observed helpfully. “it seems like you’re having a rough morning. Apparently, you didn’t put enough confetti under your pillow.”
Luckily, we made it to school on time. We all had a successful first day and Lil’ P even remembered not to pee in the woods on the playground. I thought all was well until soccer practice that afternoon. The assistant coach (me) had to bench her kid. It started when the head coach made Lil’ P. run a lap for picking up the soccer ball and taking off with it. Instead of doing the time for his crime, my kid had a Def Con 5 fit. While I was trying to coach my little group of players, tie shoes, and coax one child who was upside down picking grass, my own spawn was making wailing sounds akin to those of a dying buffalo. Earplugs for all would have spared everyone the noise and would have allowed me to swear my way back to sanity.
The top of this versatile household appliance is the perfect place for storing all my son’s favorite items within view, but out of reach. By the end of the first day of school, it housed his Kindle and all his Minecraft figures. Days two and three of school have been magical, like unicorns, as he tries to earn his toys back. The refrigerator also houses my adult beverages. My Immunity Idol has been hidden in plain sight the entire time.
Day four starts tomorrow. Thanks to my survival kit, my torch is still burning. Lil’ P. is maintaining his self-control at school well enough to earn positive behavior comments in his daily folder. Lil’ K. is rocking third grade. As long as both kids keep it together in public, I can handle the caterpillars and snake skins. Lil’ K made it this far, and Lil’ P. will too. After all, he’s only five.
This post has been linked up to Mama Kat’s Writing Workshop.