Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Worst First Day of School Ever

I am totally not over dramatic.

Ok, I am, and when most of you read this you will think I am pathetic and over reacting.  So I may insert some really good exaggerations now and then to keep you interested (and from thinking I am totally lame)

Most Mormon Mommy Blogs are filled today with the perfect shot of their child holding some awesome poster declaring the grade they are entering and their mom's creative foresight.

Riley is holding the back of the month of August from my calendar since that was the only piece of paper not still packed- written with some sadly fading markers - since they are also the only ones we could find.  I should have known right then that it would be a bad day and gone straight back to bed.

Stop feeling bad about yourself, because you are comparing your lame poster with my awesome calendar poster.  That is the problem with these Mommy Blogs, I make the rest of you feel all bad about yourselves.  Sorry.

The Worst Day Ever actually started a few months ago when we did the most horrific thing you could ever do to you or your child.  We missed Kindergarten Round Up.  At the time, we expected to be living in Seattle, we just didn't know where.  And we happened to be at The Happiest Place on Earth when our school was holding Kindergarten Round Up. I was told by lots of moms that it wasn't the end of the world if you missed the round up.  They were wrong.

Apparently at the Round Up they do an assessment of your child.   And if you miss that assessment  it is like missing the SAT's and showing up to Harvard on the first day of class with your cute new Hello Kitty Backpack and Lunchbox.  They won't care how excited you are.  How nervous and terrified you look.  They will crush you.

When I registered Riley through the school district, no one mentioned this assessment, or that it could completely change the fate of my child's academic career.  In fact, I waited and waited for the post card from the school with her teacher's name on it-- or any information including her Bus Route, the Start Time or End Time of Class, or any other seemingly pertinent information.  When it never arrived, I went to the school a few days before school started.  This is where they informed me that she still needed to be assessed.  On the first day of school she would be assessed and then assigned her teacher.    But they invited us to  come to the Back to School BBQ and meet the teachers anyways.  (which I would have to miss, but JT could go)  They also instructed me to take Riley straight to the Field on the First Day of School for this assessment.

At the BBQ, JT asked if there was any way she could take the assessment then so that she would not feel left out or awkward on the first day of school being one of the few kids with out a teacher.  They said no.  When he asked about Bus Schedules they informed him that they do not want parents to bring their kids on the first day of school!  Just put them on the bus!  (Can you imagine a mom not dropping off her Freshmen at Harvard? It would be like parents not taking their daughter to the MTC when she went on her mission, so at the opening meeting she had to hug EFY Counselor Friends instead of her own parents like all of the other crying 19 year olds.... not traumatic at all.) They continued to discourage JT from allowing me to bring her, and he continued to remind them that I love my off spring (even though I don't make awesome posters or the best First Day of School Breakfast ever) and would be walking her to her classroom.  (P.S. I did notice the child who was taking the assessment without their parent and the teachers kept messing things up and he ended up crying, with no advocate- or parent.  I was thankful that Riley at least have me there when she did end up crying also.)  They told JT that the kids would be pulled from the Field where everyone was to take the test a few at time, so that no one would even notice that they were being singled out.

On the night before school as I mentioned our issue with others, they simply stated that their kid had just taken the assessment at the Back to School BBQ.  (The one where they told JT she could not be tested!)   Now I was starting to get upset.  But I knew how I reacted would affect how Riley felt, so I tried to stay calm.

As the next morning unfolded- with First Day of School clothes, and lunches, and pictures, I loaded Riley up and headed off for a memorable day of Kindergarten that would now scar us for life.

Mommy and Riley before the Big Day.

When we got there and I walked back to the Field, there was no one.  Everyone was starting to line up in front of their teachers.  I was mildly frustrated with this, and approached the first Kindergarten Teacher I saw.  She quickly brushed me off, telling me I should be inline by our teacher.  I explained we didn't have a teacher, and she told me "then you should have been at the Office." and walked away.  Are you kidding me??  I am holding my scared little Kindergartner and you tell me I should go to the Office -when they told me to go the Field??

We find the office (by now gates are being locked, and I have no idea how to get anywhere in the school -- because I was snapping photos with Mickey at the Happiest Place on Earth during Kindergarten Round Up) and ask where to go.  They tell me I "should be in the Library" I stare at them in shock.  Are you kidding me?  My third location?  Different than anything anyone has said yet? The Librarian directs us to the Library, then discovers that is not where the Testing is taking place, it is where the Waiting is taking place, and then looks around till she finds the room with the testing.  (Are you kidding me Office?)

After waiting and waiting (long after the School Bells have rung, and the rest of the kids are meeting their teachers)  I am watching 3 teachers take turns assessing 10 kids.  We settled in for a long morning.  (watching other kids cry)

After the assessment they escorted me to the Library where all of the kids and parents would wait (and eat yummy muffins and stuff- best part of Riley's day, until another Mom asked if I had fed my child that morning... because she was eating so much... I punched her in the face and ate my muffin) for the results of the assessment and the assignment of her Teacher.  After waiting, and waiting, and watching all of the other kids leave the Library and eating more muffins, the Principal and a teacher finally came in looking for Riley.  We waved and said we were there (the Library was empty accept for volunteers, it was pretty obvious we were there) when they said "Oh! We have been looking all over for you!"  (Are you kidding me?  You walked us here yourself!! How did you lose us???)  By now, it is 10:40 (School started for everyone else at 9:30) and I am frustrated.  The problem with me, is that I have only two settings: "calm frustrated" ( like politely asking where to go at the Office, when they were the ones who sent me to the Field in the first place)   and "hysterical, making no sense, sobbing, yelling frustrated" (like hitting the other mom).  I felt Hysterical, Making No Sense, Sobbing, Yelling Katie coming on when I looked at that Principal- but felt Riley's scared tiny hand in mine and kept my mouth shut and my fist unclenched.  They told me our teacher and began to walk away. I explained (as calmly, uncryingly as I could) that I had no idea where that teacher's class was.

So they walked us down the hall (informing us that Riley was not allowed to wear her cute flower flip flops to school--- another horrible flash back to my first day at the MTC when they told me my hair was too highlighted,  I was wearing too much make up, and my outfit was too contemporary, and sent me to my dorm to change - in front of about 100 missionaries.  Wait, to be clear, I didn't change in front of 100 missionaries, I was scolded in front of 100 missionaries.) to the Mean Teacher's class.  I saw her (after they informed me that the assessment was to make sure the levels of development were distributed between the classes and so that this particular teacher could get the kids who don't speak English -because she was an E.L.L. teacher before -) and then they sent Riley and I right in.  (The kids who don't speak English? Huh?  Was this like the time the people at Head Start didn't believe me that I am not Russian?  And asked me 10 times in one conversation if I was Russian, or if I speak Russian, or why I won't answer them in Russian?)  Apparently they have to have a few English speaking kids to balance out the  rest of the class?  No one explained anything.

Of course, the Mean Teacher, seeing the timid Kindergartner in tears coming in on her first day of school, over an hour late, to a class of unknown kids sitting on the carpet, could not be bothered to say "Hi" to Riley or introduce herself or Riley to the class.  Or smile.  Or look somewhat human or kind.  Nope.  Riley, picking up on the "sit-down-and-shut-up-vibe" began to cry.  (Oh yeah, she also had to put a sticker on with her name.  That is pretty much Riley's worst fear.  This is the girl who has kept every princess, kitty, and fairy sticker she has ever received saved in a box because she doesn't like to put them on her clothes.  That was not helping out our morning.)  So she started sobbing.

I am talking about Hysterical, Making No Sense, Sobbing.  She begged me not to make her go to school.  Not to leave her.  Not to let go of her.  I looked around in distress.  What do I do?  Can I stay and hold her for a minute?  Can I take her screaming from the school past the Principal's office to punch him in the nose?  Can I even hold in my own tears?  (Seriously, there is nothing worse than seeing your daughter scared and crying and feeling helpless yourself.)

A teacher helper came over and pried Riley's legs and arms off of me and told me I had to leave.

I was shocked.  Just walk away?  I know we do that in Nursery when the kids are crying, and they calm down instantly... but I am still in the building. I can look  in through the little window to make sure they are playing happily with play dough.  But just leave them?  As I left my sobbing child, I asked the Helper where I come to pick her up after school.  She told me to come back to the classroom door.

I walked out, past the Principal's Office, Past the Library of treats (I should have grabbed another Muffin and stuffed it in my purse for the lady who thought we were starving) and out to my car.

Where I sat down, dropped my head on the steering wheel, and cried.  Not because my Little Girl was growing up.  Not because I felt like I was losing my little Friend to All Day Kindergarten.  Not because I realized I had just brought her home from the Hospital yesterday and that I would be cheering at her Graduation tomorrow!  Not because I was exhausted from staying up all night to bake her favorite cookies and maker her awesome poster that I would scapbook later on that day. (because I really didn't do that)

I was crying because my little girl had been given the run-a-round all morning.  Because the school seemed to be dropping the ball everywhere.  Because I just left her with the meanest Kindergarten Teacher Ever.  (Don't you have to be sweet and kind and loving to pass the test to be a Kindergarten teacher?)  Because, for us, that was the worst First Day of School Experience Ever.

(P.S.  When I went back to the door to pick up Riley after school  they told me I had to go to the Field, when we got to the Field, they told me we had to be waiting by the Bell to pick up our kids.  Blake and I raced there just in time to find Riley-- who they had tried to put on the bus- even though I filled out the paper saying I would be there to pick her up. Seriously? Seriously?!)

Maybe it is the trauma of the move.  (And let's be honest, it has been far more traumatic on me than anyone.)  Maybe it is the chaos of our last month of painting, packing, painting again, moving, family reunions, and living out of a box eating fast food every day for a month.  Literally.  (You thought that was one of the places where I was exaggerating-- who lives off fast food for a month?  The Tylers, when they move.)  Maybe it is the fact that I already have a strange anxiety associated with school- and being lost, or late or having a mean teacher-- and the realization that it was all happening to my baby girl who has been extremely emotional (probably from the move and the fast food) and is now traumatized.  (Ok, she actually has no idea that Teachers are suppose to be nice and say Hi and that she had the worst day ever.  She had a go-gurt in her lunch after all.)

So there you go.  The story of the Worst Day of School Ever.  That probably doesn't seem so horrific to any of you- but to the mom who hasn't been to the gym in weeks, who has consumed two tons of fried garbage, whose clothes are still in boxes and who now shares a bathroom with her whole family (agggghhhhh, the horror!) - it was pretty much the Worst Day Ever.

And for any of you wondering- I was able to cry about my Little Girl growing up, about the fact that I miss her deeply already and miss her laugh and friendship during the day, about the fact that I can't control her environment anymore and she may have a mean teacher, about the fact that I regret ever doing hair and missing out on even a few hours of the short time I had with her before she got sucked in to the school district for forever,  about the fact that she got on a bus and waved good bye leaving me and Blake and Macie alone without her,  I got to cry really hard while I was out jogging around my new neighborhood on the second day of school.

And the neighbors think I am crazy.

Riley, JT and Macie

Riley and her Daddy

Riley at the Bell after school.  Not her classroom door, or the Field,  but the Bell.

And what first day of school is complete without a picture of the Best Friend?  Riley and Anna.


  1. Nightmare! I hate being told one thing by someone who doesn't have a clue and then another thing by another clueless person! Frustrating. I hope it gets better from here. I'll be honest the office staff, other than the principal, are not my favorite people. but I rarely have to deal with them, so it's not so bad.

  2. Wow! That was a bad day. Poor Riley, and poor you. I have never been a fan of leaving a child crying (even in nursery) and my kids are fine. Tell them to take a flying leap next time. I give you permission ;)

    Hope things get better...if it doesn't improve...remember you have options. . .

  3. I would say that this qualifies as a bad first day. If I were you, I'd let the school have a piece of your mind about the lack of organization. If that is how they get you assigned to a class, then how are they to educate your child! I'd let them know you are not a mommy to be messed with!

  4. Uh no offense but the mistake you made was putting up with it. The school, works FOR YOU. Of course be respectful but you don't have to put up with that. You simply go to the office and you stay in the office until someone helps you directly. They should not brush you off, they should walk you where you need to go. They should introduce you to the exact people you should be talking to and making sure you get the exact answer you need to make sure that your child is being educated the way she deserves AND YOU PAY FOR.

    My experience with public schools is very similar to yours and I find that the easiest way to deal with it, is don't be a tender heart mom. You need be a roaring lioness and remind them that it is the lioness that hunts.

    Most schools want to help and the first day of school is hectic but you were clearly mistreated and disrespected.

    1. Part II of this Blog will be what happens when I meet with the Principal and let him know how I felt. The only reason I did not do that the first day- was because of my inability to be calm frustrated- and screaming lunatic frustrated tends to get me in trouble... like literally Lioness devouring the head of the office staff and licking the carcass in front of the whole school type trouble. Not that I am calm, and clear minded I am ready to let them have it :)
      p.s. Thanks for commenting!

    2. I am glad to know that you will talk to the principal. The school is really supposed to work for you and with you. Good luck & happy kindergarten. It's a really fun year - they grow & change so much.

      The process sounds ridiculous.

  5. I'm so sorry!! I think it's ridiculous that they didn't let her take the assessment before the first day of school. Some of the office staff over there have frustrated me as well.

    At the end of the day, you both still looked amazing. Is that worth something? AND Anna didn't even HAVE a poster to hold up for her picture on the first day of school. You've got me beat.

  6. That does sound like the worst first day of school ever. That is awful. It will get better. It can't get worse! I am also sorry about the stress of your move. I know what that's like and what it's like to live in someone else's house and eat out a lot and live out of a suitcase. Not fun. Hang in there Katie. P.S. I love your hair. You look beautiful in the picture of you and Riley.

    1. Thanks Ashley, I have actually thought of you a lot these past few weeks:)

  7. So terrible! I'd still be reeling, too!!!

  8. ah...that would be my worst nightmare! I am so sorry you and Riley had to go through that. I hope things are better now. Did Riley end up enjoying the rest of the day? I cannot believe how disorganized they were!

  9. Wow, what a horrible experience. My heart really goes out to you!! I am amazed at the courage you had to leave her at the school. I would have taken my child home. To start in an institution like that for a FULL DAY at that age is really hard on the kids. This would have tipped me over the edge to homeschooling my child - at least for kindergarten. I can't say I have the organization, the stamina, or the patience for homeschooling - that I would have been forced into doing it at that moment, standing in the classroom with a crying child and a non-responsive teacher.
    ~Lisa Lewis~

  10. I am so sorry! I totally get it! I had a MAJOR meltdown at the Kindergarten Open House that wasn't really and open house. I am sure that I looked absolutley ridiculous, but with everything going on in my life and my kids going crazy, I just lost it. So, don't feel bad at all! Your story is very worthy of tears! (and anger!) I hope all is well now and that Riley is loving Kindergarten! Miss you!!

  11. Seriously needing an update! How are things going now?? :)