The verdict after the first week: Kindergarten is exhausting

August 21

By the end of the first week of kindergarten, we were all exhausted. (Danielle Herzog)

“I’m so tired. I’ve never been this tired before.”

My daughter leaned over to my husband and dropped her head on his shoulder as we ate dinner to celebrate her first week of school.

Half-asleep, she started whining. In fact, she has been whining every night of her first week of school.

“There’s so many rules, Mommy. I have to raise my hand and not say the teacher’s name. I have to walk in line. And the worst one is that I can’t sing in the hallways. Not even ‘Let It Go.’ She won’t let us sing ANY songs from Frozen.”

She plumped out her bottom lip as if the world’s worst offense had taken place.

“Sweetie, there’s a reason for these rules.”

I began to explain why singing in the hallways could be disruptive, but she was intent on complaining and sucking the life out of the room around her.

By the end of the first week of school, the excitement from the first day has worn off and the reality of the experience is hitting her. Hitting us all.

Gone are the days of playing Barbies for hours, taking 40 minutes to eat lunch and not getting dressed until the very last credit of Strawberry Shortcake rolls.

Now she has to get ready and eat as soon as she wakes up. There is no Strawberry Shortcake until after school and lunch is a mere 20 minutes where she is left with uneaten food and a still-hungry belly.

There is no mother filling most of her needs. Now she is one of 29 students vying for the attention of one woman who should probably be canonized as a saint.

And there’s a lot of whining. Her teacher tells us that she is perfectly behaved and a joy to have in class. That she doesn’t whine there and she follows all the rules. She explained to us that many kids “use up” their good behavior all day at school and tend to relax more at home. Sometimes that leads to behavior that might not have been as prevalent before they were in school.

Even knowing that, it’s an adjustment for us all. My daughter is adjusting to new rules and environments, and I’m adjusting to worrying about things I never thought about before she went to kindergarten.

Things like class sizes and whether I should petition for another class be added. Or what to do when a disruptive, angry child is affecting the flow of the classroom. What do I know about any of these things?

Sometimes I wish I could take a page out of my daughter’s book and put my head down on someone’s shoulder and go to sleep.  Heck, maybe the school can have rest time for parents, where we get those mats and pillows for 20 minutes in the middle of the day. I don’t know about my daughter, but it would sure help with my whining.

Follow Danielle Herzog and her daughter each week for this one-month series where they’ll share their experiences of what starting school for the first time means for both a mother and her child. Herzog blogs at Martinis and Minivans. You can follow her on Twitter.

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