Parenting Stories: First Day of Kindergarten
She should have been easy to spot. It was her first day of kindergarten and since her new backpack hadn’t arrived, she was using a lime green one with pink whales on it. In addition she had a primarily white shirt on so surely she would stand out when she hopped off the bus and went into her after-school program.
She should have been easy to spot… or so I thought. When the bus pulled up in front of the after-school program, I watched with a smile on my face as children happily jumped off the bus. My husband thought I was nuts when I told him I was going to spy on her but I didn’t care. I hadn’t shed a tear when she left in the morning but by mid-afternoon I just wanted to see her even if it was from my car, hidden behind the bus. Then the bus pulled away. Had I missed her? I must have. Perhaps another bus was moments away from pulling up. I pulled into the after-school parking lot and decided to call. The last thing my daughter needed was to have her mom burst into the building in a panic. As I dialed the number so many things ran through my head, but most of them were not exactly logical. When someone answered I said “Hi, I’m one of those crazy moms who decided to spy on my daughter getting off the bus to your program. The only problem is, I didn’t see her get off the bus. I’m hoping I just missed her.” I described Madalyn, explained what she was wearing and then the woman asked me to hold. She came back to the line a LONG time after putting me on hold. (Perhaps not that long, but that is was it felt like.) “I’m sorry Mrs. S. but your daughter isn’t here. The Director is on the phone with the transportation company. Would you like to come back here and wait while we try to find out where your daughter is?”
Remember those tears I didn’t weep in the morning? Well, here they came. Not only did they come but I practically lost my voice. I blurted out what I think sounded like “no, I’m going home to see if she is there.” I immediately called my husband who was on his way to meet our new nephew at the hospital (born the day before). “They can’t find Maddie” I said. “You need to turn around.” I didn’t know who would get home faster, he or I. All I knew was that if we weren’t home and the bus came, they wouldn’t drop her off there either. Shortly after arriving home, my cell phone rang. It was the afterschool program. “They’ve located your daughter Mrs. S. They believe she was accidentally put on the bus to take her home.” At this point I had kind of assumed this, I mean if she hadn’t shown up at school in the morning wouldn’t I have received a call? Wouldn’t I? So she must be on her way home.
Shortly after my husband pulled in the driveway the school called to try to explain how this happened. A data entry error they said. Someone must have keyed in the wrong student ID# when entering in her schedule. The school assured me the Assistant Principal put her on the bus. She was going to call me in 10-minutes to confirm my daughter arrived home safely.
When the bus finally pulled up, my daughter didn’t get off the bus. I looked at the bus driver and said “please tell me there is a Madalyn on the bus.” “Oh, you’re the mom of that little girl. Yes, she’s on the bus.” Madalyn wouldn’t get off at first. She knew she supposed to go to the after-school program but she didn’t know she would be taking a different bus to get there. My husband got on the bus and told her to come off in his most excited, this was planned, voice. When I finally laid eyes on her, my nerves settled. My baby was home and she was in my arms. She didn’t think the reunion was that great however. School was great she said but she was really confused and her face made me think she had an awful day (she didn’t). She was really sad that she wasn’t going to the afterschool program.
Our first thought was to do something special that afternoon, but given her disappointment, I drove her to the afterschool program and she ended up having a great time. Ultimately, the afterschool program was probably the best part of her day. If nothing else, it helped relieve some of the working mother’s guilt. She will have a blast in the afterschool program. What’s ironic in all this is the night before school, I typed out her schedule. I included emergency contact numbers and street addresses of the places she was supposed to go. I planned to put this in her backpack, except I never printed up the schedule. The more people I spoke with and the more I thought about it, I decided I was being completely neurotic. The school would certainly know my child’s schedule for transportation. I had completed every form and submitted it on time. Who knows if I printed up the schedule if it actually would have made a difference. Even if she showed it to a staff member they probably wouldn’t have pay attention. However, that night, I took out her bus pass and wrote out her schedule on the back of it. Just in case there was ever any confusion in the future. While she is heading off to school and needs her independence, as her parents, we are ultimately responsible for safety, well being and happiness. And no one but us will put this as their number one priority in life.
Day one is behind us and I’m happy to report in Maddie’s words, “Kindergarten is the BEST!”…bus confusion and all.
- E-family news: Getting Ready for Kindergarten – What to Expect