The day the S-bomb got dropped on the kindergarten field trip

Don't ruin Santa for everyone elseLast week I chaperoned my kindergartener’s field trip. It was crazy adorable – and generally pretty crazy – as you might expect.

I often forget how young kindergarteners are, because lately Grace seems so old to me. She’s reading beginner books, tying her own shoes, picking out her own clothes. So independent. So big.

But when you see 17 five and six year old kids all together? They’re babies. So innocent. So young.

They want to hold the teacher’s hand and be the line leader. They cry when they don’t get to sit in the last seat of the bus like they wanted to. They eat their snacks loudly and with open-mouth-chewing gusto.

They are full of sweet, goofy innocence.

That is, until one says something that makes you so mad, you want to tackle her and shut her up.

We’re all sitting on the floor, listening to a story that the museum lady is reading. The topic of the holidays comes up, and one kid calls out how excited he is to see Santa this year.

And that’s when it happens.

One little girl enthusiastically bellows, “But there’s no such thing as Santa! He’s NOT REAL.”

Silence.

The phrase hung in the air for a few agonizing seconds. My insides went quivery as I sucked in my breath. I looked at Grace. Would she look at me for confirmation? Would she start crying? What would she do?

The kids all looked at the girl in disbelief. I saw the kids’ teacher about to say something, but before any of us adults could react, another little voice piped up loud and clear: “YES. HE. IS!!!”

And then more voices.

“Of course he’s real!”

“I see him every year, he’s totally real!”

“He brings me presents every Christmas!”

The voices all started chorusing that Santa was indeed real while the kids looked the girl as if she announced she was leaving the field trip to hop on her rainbow unicorn and fly to Disney World. I saw Grace roll her eyes at the silliness of the little girl’s claim. The museum lady picked right back up with the book. And that was that.

The kids moved on and everything was fine (well, maybe until later when some parents got some uncomfortable questions). But unlike the kids, I sat there stewing for a few minutes.

I mean, I get it. Maybe that little girl doesn’t celebrate Christmas and Santa. But why, WHY didn’t her parents tell her to keep her thoughts on Santa to herself no matter what? If I didn’t celebrate Christmas and/or Santa, you’d better believe I’d tell my kids that under no circumstances were they to tell Santa-loving kids what they believed wasn’t true. People believe lots of different things. Why is it anyone’s place to tell them what they believe isn’t true?

My older daughter’s close friend is Jewish, and that little girl simply says her family doesn’t celebrate Christmas so she doesn’t get gifts from Santa – she gets them from her family and friends. Simple as that.

Or…maybe the girl’s parents did tell her to not tell people their beliefs weren’t true, but she couldn’t resist letting everyone in on what she thought was juicy information. Kids will do stuff like that, as we all know.

Either way, I’m hoping no harm was done by that little girl’s brazen announcement to her classmates. Grace hasn’t brought it up. And I hope she doesn’t. Not yet.

The one good thing that has come out of this? Hubs and I have talked about how we will handle the inevitable questions someday. Our answer: We believe in the spirit of Santa. And only kids who believe in the spirit of Santa get gifts from Santa! When the girls are older, our explanation might be more like this great letter.

All in all, it seems no harm was done in the end. But parents, please: If your family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, or celebrates Christmas but not Santa, please, I beg you. Please teach your kids to be sensitive to other kids’ beliefs. Understand that Santa is indeed real to those who celebrate this aspect of Christmas, no matter what age we are. Please let the fun live on for everyone who loves Santa.

I’d really love to keep the magic going – and I know I’m not alone.

PS: If you want more thoughts on Christmas beliefs, check out this post on why I get really annoyed when Christians screech “put the Christ back in Christmas!” And if you’re not feeling super holiday-ish right now, read my tips on managing depression, anxiety, and stress during the holidays.

PPS: And if you want some holiday funny, here’s how NOT to get a great holiday card photo of your kids, and my (fictional) humble brag Christmas card letter I wrote for Jen at People I Want to Punch in the Throat. Plus you can read about why my Elf on the Shelf is defective. And naughty. Happy holidays!

My baby is going to kindergarten. Cue the (totally unexpected) angst.

Just a little under six years ago, I was snuggling this:

baby Grace

On Friday that bundle of snuggles is going to kindergarten. And I’m a mess.

I’ve been talking tough for practically a year about how great it’s going to be when both my kids are in school. I thought of all the things I’d accomplish without them around. The peace and quiet I’d enjoy. The gobs of work I’d do and the projects I’d get done.

Yeah. I really thought I was going to be more than okay with this whole “my baby is going to school” thing. In fact, I was sure I would be all Braveheart-like after Grace got on the bus with her big sister. You know, whooping and hollering, “FREEEEDOM!!!!” as I sprinted from the bus stop and into my quiet house.

Instead, what am I doing? I’m scrolling though my iPhoto archives, sniffling and sometimes all-out bawling while staring at my baby’s face, wondering how six years flew by, and positively dreading my empty house.

How did this happen to me, the mom who has been craving the day when my kids were finally big enough to climb on the big yellow bus and ride off to school, leaving me to my FREEEEDOM?

Surprise! Freedom ain’t looking so great now.

Naturally, I’ve been overanalyzing why I’ve been so sad about Grace going to kindergarten. And I’ve come up with a plethora of reasons, including:

1) Grace was home with me more than Annie.

2) The baby going to school is always harder.

3) I’m feeling a little ambivalent about my career and not looking forward to days filled with work.

4) I just finished the Divergent trilogy and I’m SO MAD about how it all ended. (I mean, COME ON. Really? REALLY?)

They’re all natural reasons to be a bit mopey right now. (Though I really need to get over Divergent.)

But really, I think my angst goes a little deeper. And embarrassingly, it’s less about Grace and more about me.

Grace going to kindergarten signals a graduation of sorts – not for her, but for ME. Because – despite my frequent doubts that I would – I actually made it. I made it through those really, really, REALLY tough years of no sleep, postpartum depression, tantrums, and potty training. Eight years of it, between two kids. And it’s done. I have officially graduated from the early years of parenting.

There is no ceremony or recognition of my achievements. I didn’t get a final grade. And there sure isn’t an awesome graduation present waiting for me in the driveway. But just like when I graduated from college, there is a lot of great stuff I’m leaving behind – and an awful lot of unknown stretching out ahead of me.

I’m sad to say goodbye to playgroups and playdates. Outings to the farm to pick apples. Going to story time at the library. Snuggling on the couch and reading book after book together. Doing nothing at all on a Monday afternoon, just because we could.

I’m scared about being alone every day. I know I’ll end up being busy between work and household tasks and errands and volunteering at my kids’ schools. For some reason, though, the prospect of Monday through Friday, 8:30am – 3:30pm, often all by myself, is making me morose.

What I need to do now is exactly what I did in the weeks after college graduation: Remind myself there is no turning back, no matter how much I want to, and embrace the future.

So here goes.sending the last kid to school is graduation for mom

I will have a blast volunteering at Grace’s school and finally get to volunteer at Annie’s school, since I won’t have Grace to worry about. The girls are SO excited about me helping in their classrooms and it’s going to be awesome.

I will get to take my career in new directions, try different kinds of writing, and finally have time to continue my education through reading and maybe an online course or two.

I will be able to get the laundry and grocery shopping (mostly) done during the week so we can have more relaxing weekends as a family.

I will have time to exercise again. (Remind me of this one, okay?)

I will be able to carve out time here and there for myself. To read. To garden. To just chill.

I will get to do all these things. And more, I’m sure. And it will be great. The kids will be happy, I will be happy, and all will be well.

But tonight, I will allow myself to stare at that picture of Grace, snuggled on me in the hospital, her trademark crease between the eyebrows already developed. She looked perpetually concerned, that one, and she still gets that look when she’s puzzled or upset today.

Tomorrow, I’ll take Grace to her orientation, and I know that crease between her eyebrows won’t be there. Unlike her mama, this kid is more than ready to leave her baby years behind. She is raring to go to kindergarten and has not a single hesitation about all that lies before her. She will have a huge grin on her face that will light her way wherever she goes.

I will miss her like crazy. This I know. But I have every confidence that she’s going to shine. And I’ll give myself a little pat on the back because yes, I helped that little munchkin get where she is today. She’s ready. And she’s psyched.

Sigh.

Well, here’s to commencement, mamas. To all you sending off your babies to school – WE DID IT!

(And I promise I won’t judge if you ugly-cry when your baby gets on the bus. I know I will.)

Is your baby going to school this year? Are you sad or totally psyched?

*****

Three minutes in the mind of a mom

3 minutes in the mind of a mom

3 minutes in the mind of a momThere’s a reason women say they have “mom brain.” Even though I make lists upon lists in an attempt to clear my head of all the to-dos racing through it, my brain never.stops.moving.

From the moment I wake up until the time I fall asleep, it’s filled with things to do and thoughts I should act on that second or else I’ll forget them. Like the way I forget where my keys are or if today is a daycare day or if I have two or three kids. (Answer: two. But the mess in my house makes it look like there has to be another one somewhere.)

A while back, I stumbled upon this hysterical post by Jason Good in which he gives you a 3-minute glimpse inside the head of his 2-year-old.

I read that again recently and thought, huh. Now that I think about it, my mind doesn’t function all that differently. Which is either a bit funny or a bit pathetic. Let’s find out.

3 Minutes Inside the Mind of a Mom

Upon waking up in the morning…

I’m tired.
I NEED COFFEE.
A small person is climbing on top of me.
Ow. That was my spleen.
Stop climbing on me so I can get my coffee.
GET OFF OF ME.
Oh look! Hubs brought me coffee!
Ahhhh, coffee.
What day is today? Monday? Wednesday? Thurfriunday?
Ooooh, pretty shiny ring. On my 5-year-old.
TAKE OFF MY WEDDING RING!
Where’s Annie? Is she still in bed?
I need to know what the weather’s like today.
Who put Dora the Explorer on?
What’s the chance that Dora could tell me if it’s going to rain today?
So wait. What day is today? Tuesday?
OMG. It’s Tuesday. Annie’s still in bed.
Bus will be here in 39 minutes.
I didn’t make lunches yet.
I didn’t pack Gracie’s backpack.
Doesn’t Annie have to bring her class project in today?
Did Annie ever DO that class project?
Lunches. Lunches first.
Do we have peanut butter?
Man, I want peanut butter RIGHT NOW.
And chocolate.
Nutella. I want Nutella.
I must be PMSing. Or I’m pregnant.
Crap, could I actually be pregnant?
Huh. Why does my third toenail have no nail polish on it?
I have to go to Target.
Need to buy more peanut butter. And dryer sheets.
God, my spleen hurts. Or is that my appendix?
Do I have appendicitis? Nah.
Oh GOD I’m tired. Hubs snores too much.
Note to self: Buy nose strips for Hubs at Target.
I really hope Hubs is waking Annie up right now.
THE BUS WILL BE HERE IN 38 MINUTES!
Oy, will I ever get real curtains for this room?
Which kid has dance class today?
What is Annie crying about?
I think I have a draft due for a client today.
Or is it the school newsletter that’s due today?
Christ, there is a PTO meeting today, isn’t there?
Why is Gracie so quiet in the bathroom?
Crap. She just flushed a whole role of toilet paper, didn’t she?
Must. Get. More. Coffee. NOW.

Am I the only one whose brain (mal)functions in this way?

PS – Full disclosure: This is a slightly reworked post from a couple years ago because I’m on vacation and I’m trying to let my brain relax. Which I’m having various degrees of success with. Because I’m a mom. But I figured a lot of you weren’t Honest Mom readers two years ago so this is all new to you and you know what? Why I am even telling you this? I’m off to do something away from the computer that may or may not involve day-drinking. Because I can.

photo credit: bitzcelt via photopin cc