i got the back-to-school bluuuues

by humanmama on August 3, 2011

Well, I just got Helena’s first ever official school letter listing her as a student of KINDERGARTEN. I can’t wait. She’s super excited, and it’s going to be a good year. Also, I like the summer so much, but I do like a schedule. It’s easier to segment the day into before-and after-school time for us, and the kids like it too because I plan more.

I was recently at a friends’ house, our kids were playing together, when I pointed out the insane tendancy towards competition that I’ve noticed at 5 years old. Everything lately seems to be about being bigger, better, and faster than our friends. And this is towards the friends we like. It’s so irritating to hear Helena argue with a best friend “I can swing the highest,” or my favorite (said by another kid to mine–at least they’re good eaters) “You’re taking BIGGER BITES THAN ME! THAT’S NOT FAIR!!!” I especially loved that one because it didn’t escape my kids’ lips, unlike the other 5,000 competitive things they say per day.

(Lilly just plays right into Helena’s hands. “I went the FASTEST,” says Helena, and right on her heels Lilly is yelling “I went Fashtesht.” Then there’s a lovely fight, and Lilly stands her ground, unaware even of what she is fighting for.)

Tracie, my friend, said to me “Well, there’s always what my kids say, which is ‘first is the worst, second is the best…!” And I immediately thought: OH NO. When we were kids we said that too. “First is the worst, second is the best, third is the nerd with the hairy chest.” Gross. Well, at least I have many years until that kind of taunting begins, since that’s middle school talk, there. The author Anne Lamott writes in her book Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year about middle school. She basically says she is most worried about Middle School, the worst time in a kids’ life. Foremost in her mind when she is pregnant, she writes, is the “agonizing issue of how on earth anyone can bring a child into this world knowing full well that he or she is eventually going to have to go through the seventh and eighth grades.”

If they can get through middle school, they can get through anything. And I worry, too. I pretty much developed my amazing sports abilities by skipping Gym every day in middle school to read, getting out of most of the dodgeball “lessons” and terrible taunting, but earning myself the only “D” on my report card ever.

So “first is the worst, second is the best, third is the nerd with the hairy chest” and other such taunting and belittling sayings are coming, along with gender issues, cooties, and the like. But I have time! That’s MIDDLE SCHOOL!

Wait, no. That’s grade school talk. And Helena’s going…into…grade school. In a month.


Oh dear. I’m going to go get the dodgeball to start her early. Then maybe she’ll have a chance. “Come here, honey! Remember, ‘first is the worst!'”

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