Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Big Shift

Except for the date, this is pretty accurate.

I have spent all summer trying to ease Princess and Birdie into the idea of third grade.  I have subtly changed their lunch time from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., which is a pretty big deal.  I have casually mentioned from time to time some of the differences between 2nd and 3rd grade, like working in groups more often, having different seating arrangements, and reading more chapter books.  I have talked about who their teachers will be and how they compared to their 2nd grade teachers.  The Crazies seemed to take the info in stride, and with little worry.  Then, when Back to School Bootcamp began, the first week went so well that I thought my girls were finally going to be relieved of most of the anxiety that they experience this time of year.  Uhhhh-- I was wrong.  They just decided to hold off on the worry for a day or two.  Maybe the good news that we weren't moving helped delay the insanity.  After all, Princess was over the moon that she would get to spend another year at school with Prince Charming.  Unfortunately, reality began to set in early last week, and we have been stress-central on the Crazy Train ever since.

And here I thought I might actually be dodging a bullet...

We started the transition to the "school schedule" a couple of weeks ago, and for the first week it was all sunshine and rainbows.  We began by getting used to waking up with the alarm clock for a couple of days-- not a problem. (Except there was one tiny incident where the Hello Kitty alarm clock got the crap beat out of it, but it was over so fast that it doesn't count.  Not really, anyway-- Kitty didn't die.)  Then, we spent a couple of days waking with the alarm AND getting dressed before coming down for breakfast.  Again, still no problems, which is amazing since getting dressed that early is a big deal to Princess and Birdie.  Wearing their pjs to breakfast is the number one distinguishing factor between school days and non-school days for Birdie and Princess-- some Sundays they never even put on "real" clothes!

Then, we added some breakfast "guidelines".  *cue the horror movie music*  Guidelines for things like what to eat for breakfast and how much time should be spent eating it.  I hear you laughing at this, but I assure you it was totally necessary.  During the summer, Birdie was notorious for pouring a big bowl of dry cereal and spending the next three hours eating it while reading a book.  She would often still eating her breakfast at lunchtime!  Adding the "breakfast rules" back into our morning routine ruffled a few feathers, and then our Back to School Bootcamp started to get real, y'all.  Birdie said she "felt rushed".  Princess was worse-- she got very angry that she would "go to all this trouble to get ready" for school, and then school didn't happen.  In her whiniest voice, P would complain "Mom, I am so confused about what to do next!  We are dressed for school, and ready to go on time, but WE AREN'T GOING ANYWHERE!!!  I HATE THIS VERY VERY VERY VERY MUCH!  WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?!!"  I very happily offered to take her back to school a week early-- you know, to ease her stress in this situation (not because I'm ready to be rid of her or anything)-- but she emphatically screamed "NO!!!!!" and seemed quite angry that I would suggest such a thing!  For four mornings in a row, we would have this same "conversation" over breakfast, and it always ended with her angry that she got ready to "go nowhere".  I am sure by the fourth day, the neighbors wished that I would take her somewhere.  I'm sure they probably even had a few suggestions for me, should I happen to run out of ideas.

The new morning routine isn't the only place we've been experiencing anxiety here on the Crazy Train.  The upheaval just starts there and then ripples throughout our days, rearing it's ugly head and avalanching all over whatever we are doing.  For example, earlier in the week I went to Birdie's room to put away her clean clothes, and realized she no longer had a bedroom floor (again).  I asked her to spend a few moments putting away the "Five Frequent Offenders" (yes, they have a name)-- trash, laundry, stuffies, books, and coins-- and then I'd help her tidy up what was left.  You'd have thought I'd said "Come on, Birdie-- we're gonna burn this motha down!"  Her reaction was completely out of sync with the norm, and by the norm I mean her norm-- not the normal norm-- so you know it was over the top crazy.  "WHAT?!!!  WHY DO I HAVE TO CLEAN MY ROOM?!!!  CAN'T I HAVE A SPACE TO CALL MY OWN?!!!  *insert wailing sobs here*  You are completely ridiculous, Mom, with your need to have orderliness.  I feel like I have no space in this whole STUPID house to call MINE!  *insert more sobs here*  It's just like in P.E.  Whoa, uh...What the...?!  I don't get my own space there, either!  Oh, I see where this is going now-- I think.  It's so crowded in there, and I never get the rules right in there and everyone is in my space-- just like YOU are doing in my room RIGHT NOW!  You are in my space like the kids in the cafeteria are too, only they are louder than you, Mom, if you can believe THAT!  And my best friend won't be there either."  *more sobbing here*  I waited patiently to be berated further, but she seemed through.  Once I finally felt I could get a word in edgewise, it seemed like a better idea just to hug her and let her decompress.  Poor thing.  Poor me.  Poor new teacher-- uh oh!

Princess had a similar mental breakdown a few days later.  I was complimenting her at breakfast about how she was getting ready in the morning without reminders.  Then I made a colossal error.  I said "You must really be looking forward to third grade, huh?"  I just had to go there, didn't I?  Once the moaning began, there was no end in sight.  "Third grade won't be fun AT ALL!  We will have to be Reading Buddies at school with a Kindergarten class and that will be awful."  I told her that if Reading Buddies were her only concern that we could work on that.  It was not her only concern.  "Mom, third grade will have no books with color pictures in them, only chapter books, which won't be as fun.  *groan*  I bet the teacher will try to tell me what to read, and I'll have to write a report on a stupid book I DIDN'T PICK!  *balled up fists and snarly face*  My new teachers won't know how I am like my old teachers did-- Mrs. W and both Mrs. D's LIKED me.  She [new teacher] will be annoyed.  And I can't wear a skirt every day like I did this summer.  I am going to die in third grade, and I AM ONLY EIGHT! YEARS! OLD!"  At this point, she got mad and began to cry.  I became depressed that it was only 7:00 a.m.

Princess's day continued to spiral out of control after that.  She had many irrational outbursts throughout the day that kept her in turmoil.  The first came when Birdie tried to remind her that we weren't moving to Texas, so she had "something to be happy about instead of sad".  P instantly lost it.  "I don't EVER want to speak Spanish, so don't EVER move us to TEXAS!  PLEASE!  I'm scared of speaking Spanish!"  Not sure what that means, but I didn't dare ask.  Later that day, P became convinced that our dog was out to get her, even though he was really just trying to lick ketchup off her foot.  Then, when she couldn't open her fruit snacks, it was evident to her that the snack manufacturer was "trying to making her life harder on purpose!  I JUST WANT TO EEEEEEEAT MYYYYY SNAAAAAACK!"  Rationality just flew right out the window, as is usual this time of year.  This was the back to school drama I expected.  That's not to say I would have missed it had the drama not shown up, but it didn't catch me off guard.  Unfortunately.

borrowed image
Fast forward a couple of days, to Friday's Open House at school.  We had begun what seemed like the downhill slide toward our normal on the Crazy Train...but Open House fixed that.  Both Princess and Birdie had expressed a great deal of interest in meeting their teachers and seeing where they would sit in class.  When the time arrived, Hubby brought the girls to school (I was already there for work) and went to meet the teachers.  Once I was able to break free from my obligations, I sped down to the third grade hall to see how it was going.  With Open House being such a sensory overload experience for everyone, I expected to find Princess in a near catatonic state, possibly with some tears and/or her face buried in her dad's side.  I also expected to find Birdie happily motor-mouthing away to the nearest school staff member/friend.  These are their typical stress MOs.  What I found was not what I expected, but equally as concerning.  I found Birdie sitting in her desk in her tightly-packed classroom full of parents and children, looking completely overwhelmed.  She was talking to her new teacher, but not in her usual non-stop way.  She looked very much like a deer in headlights.  Princess, on the other hand, was flitting about the school, tackling every adult she recognized with the tightest bear hug she could muster up.  Shocked faces were everyone she assaulted hugged.  This seemed sweet and enthusiastic to most folks, but Hubby and I recognized it for what it really was-- a sign of impending doom.  She was just a few death grips away from imploding, and we were waiting for the fallout of Open House.  We corralled the girls and took them to meet their new resource teachers, but that seemed to make matters worse for Birdie, so we moved on toward the front door to escape.  When Birdie decided to visit her favorite fifth grade friend Mrs. E on the way out, she was on the brink of tears.  Hubby took Birdie and P and made a quick getaway then, while there was still hope of getting the girls all the way home without catastrophe.  I felt so bad for them both.  I was overwhelmed by the noise and crowd, so I know they were really in need of a break.  Once I got home from work, both girls seemed to be doing better, but Birdie asked if we "could PLEASE not talk about it" when I tried to inquire about Open House.  *wince*  She did finally concede that she liked her teacher, but that's all I could get from her.

Overall, Back to School Bootcamp was successful enough-- I am fairly certain I will get to work on time, at the very least.  Once they get to school, however... weellllll, that's going to be a crap shoot for the next few weeks.  Just like it always is.  But if I have learned anything at all from my kids, it is that they always survive.  They just don't necessarily like it!

Birdie giving me the "can it" look.


  1. YOU are absolutely hysterical (I mean that in the best possible way)!

    Wow...most impressed with your Back to School Bootcamp! I don't think I was ever that organized. No. No. I KNOW I wasn't. As a matter of fact, being the coward that I am, I would just add it to R's visual calendar and break the news to him that way. Always a fine line between tooo early and not soon enough. Ha!

    So fess many Grape Lush's did YOU have this week??? :D


    1. Apparently, I had one Grape Lush too few-- I'm a little nervous about tomorrow still! ;)

  2. Replies
    1. Why thank you, Mac! That means a lot to me! I read about some of your struggles from day to day in your blog, and I know that we have lots in common. You're tenacity never ceases to amaze me!

  3. Haha!!! I'm defitinly going to become a follower. You are HILARIOUS! I hope the girls do good & have a great school year. I found ya on the Monday mingle.

  4. Thinking about you this morning and praying for a nice, easy, quiet, pleasant, stress-free day.

    How'd it go?


    1. Thank you so much, Teri! Today was fairly fantastic! The ladies made it through their day will minimal stress and no major breakdowns, and I can say the same for myself too! LOL! Day 1: Success! Let's hope we can say the same for Week 1. :)

  5. I think that's a fantastic idea to get kids ready for school. I'll have to remember that in a few years when my little guy goes off to school.

  6. are together!! I pretty much pushed them out the front door and said see ya after school , good luck!

  7. following u from the naptime review monday mom mingle thing.