Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Another Kindergarten Meltdown–Who’s With Me Here?

One thing I want to do with this blog is to spread the word that if you are experiencing something like I am experiencing, we are not alone! I’ve made that pretty clear with the endometriosis/hysterectomy posts and even some of my writing posts. So with this one I thought I would approach a new subject–the first quarter of Kindergarten. (You probably just shuddered.)

katie-kindergarten

My beautiful daughter on the first day of school

My daughter started Kindergarten August 17, and some nights, I’m just going to be honest here, she transforms into a crying, screeching beast. Tonight was one of those nights. Yes, it is difficult for her this week because I’m recovering from surgery, grandma and grandpa are over here more, and tonight, her godmother was here, too. Change of routine, lots of excitement, and she got up this morning at 5:30 am. (I have no idea why.) Add all these factors together and what comes out is an Academy Award winning performance of “Mommy is not being fair.” Even her godmother commented, “I haven’t seen a meltdown like this in years.” (Her girls are now almost 16 and 18). Let’s just say my daughter has definitely learned the sight word, “No.”  And eventually, she said, “I have non-stop crying-itis, and it is contagious. I can’t go to school tomorrow.”

And what caused all this drama? I wanted her to finish the sight word matching game before she watched YouTube. (I know, I know, I am so unreasonable.) The evening went downhill faster than  a snowball in an avalanche, and get this–I was even trying to reason with her. This is Kindergarten Parenting Fail 101, and the episode lasted much longer than it should have, with a repeat performance right before bed.  After she fell peacefully asleep, telling me she was sorry and loved me so much, I put a message on my MOPS group’s Facebook page that: yes indeed, I am interested in that Love and Logic Parenting class. 😉

Look, I know I’m not alone. Another MOPS mama recently told me that every day between 3pm and 5pm at her house is “something else” when her Kindergartener gets home from school with the other two children who are not school age. I remember a conversation last year with a Kindergarten mom who stated that Friday night dinners at their house were very rough. One of my friends from high school with four kids said: “Kindergarten is a different beast.” If you’re reading this post because you’re worried there’s something wrong with your child, well frankly, it is probably Kindergarten.

To keep up with the honesty theme, at our house, we probably have two very rough nights a week and a few small fires every other night. And I know she’s tired–I am too by the end of the day. I know she’s kept it together at school all day. I know she’s strong-willed. I know she’s testing her boundaries, and I know she needs routine, which I haven’t been able to give her much of because I have felt like crap. So I’m looking forward to a schedule installation program at our house soon.  I also know I love her more than anything, and this is just one stage of many we will face.

Please share your Kindergarten woes here with us in the comments–whether it is your current reality or you are past this delightful stage.

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13 Comments

  1. Thanks for the fair warning, Margo! From reading this and having chatted with some of our MOPS mamas about sending their eldest off to K a few weeks ago, I’m already bracing myself for next August when my sweet, tender-hearted, too-early-riser drama prince makes this big step. 😬😳

    • Sara: anytime you want to send an SOS next year, let me know. I think it helps to know that we are all experiencing the same type of thing. Maybe your drama prince will actually sleep next year. Sometimes, Katie is actually asleep before her head hits the pillow, and often I have to wake her to get her ready for school. 🙂

  2. I raised a strong-willed daughter, and they are, indeed, a challenge. A lot of the time I wondered if there was some secret parenting tip that everyone knew but me. I did my best to be patient and consistent, and got a babysitter when I needed a break (important for sanity!), as we muddled through the unique challenges of kindergarten, the teen years, and college life. And guess what? My strong-willed daughter is now a lovely, competent, and successful woman; and one of my very best friends.

    Strong-willed girls grow up to be exceptionally capable and self-confident adults. It’s a tough trait to deal with when they’re young, but that inner fire will serve her well in the future. Hang in there, Mom!

  3. Kindergarten is such a big change! We were fortunate I think to live in a district that still did half day, which I know helped some. We moved into a whole day district about half way through my youngest son’s Kindergarten year and so he was eased into it a bit more, which I suspect helped him a lot, too. I will say that in my experience, they do get more accustomed to it. I bet by the end of the year, she’ll be doing much better. Transition is stressful for all of us and littles don’t have good tools for handling it yet. We’re dealing now with the transition into middle school. No tantrums (well, except maybe occasionally thrown by me or my husband), but plenty of angst. I’m glad the tantrum days are behind us. And they’ll be behind you soon, too.

    • Sarah: great points! I know half day Kindergaren is a good thing–there are still a couple districts in South County that have this, but I also like the full day option for us work away from home mamas. Ah, middle school–I hear that is actually one of the hardest ages to teach! Hormones and angst–good thing no tantrums on top of that. 🙂

  4. I wonder if you gals are forgetting a main point. You aren’t your child’s friend. YOU are your child’s PARENT. Margo, you don’t have to reason with her. You don’t have to give reasons. “Because” is a good enough answer. As an old-fashioned mother, I would have put her to bed. This doesn’t mean you gals don’t love your kids. What it does mean is you have fallen for the child psychologists’ preaching. If you want to read a child psychologist who makes sense, read Dr. Rosemond. I would trust him, because I have seen his theories actually work in real time. Yes. You can call me a crazy old lady.
    I probably am, but we mothers didn’t have to deal with this when I was raising kids. No. Mine weren’t perfect, but they did turn out to be fairly productive citizens. One is a teacher; so are two of his daughters. Mine kids were polite to the teachers, as were their classmates. Have you seen that happening in very many schools lately? The last was just to give you something to ponder on.

    • luvboxerdogs

      September 29, 2016 at 5:06 pm

      Hi Judy: Thanks for your comment. That’s why I said: Kindergarten Parenting Fail 101. I know better than to reason with her. But then again, I was still on pain med from the surgery! 🙂 And trust me, most of the meltdown occurred in her room, where she was sent once she started. I’m not old-fashioned, but I’m not a pushover either. The point of my post was that I really do think Kindergarten tires some of our kids out to the point where for a while, they have a little personality change. Plus, believe me, I wish we could do some more “old-fashioned” things, like send our kids outside to play more often without worrying about what might happen to them. Love and logic is a pretty good system and basically just builds on natural consequences, which is also what you are talking about here. Of course, we new mothers have to name it something. 🙂 Nothing can be that simple any more. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your wisdom. ~Margo

  5. My daughter is now 33 and a psychiatrist, but this blog is reminiscent of the days when her life was unfolding before our eyes. It seems that both you and Katie are in transition, moving into a new time in your lives. That is exciting, but never easy. You’ll make it, the two of you!!

  6. I’m sure she is tired when she gets home, she might be a little hungry, try a piece of fruit or vegetable to wane off hunger pains and not spoil her dinner, a few minutes of “what was your favorite part of the day”. I never ask “what was the worst part”. i always tried to keep it positive. When you are working on dinner she can have a little free time. I remember children can be challenging but as you say they are also testing their boundaries. You are doing great, I know it’s hard but hang in there.

    • All you wise women! Thank you for visiting and for your advice.

      Claire: you are right about the transition! 🙂 and once we get through it, we will be good as gold.

      Shirley: I have thought about the dehydration/hunger aspect. Sometimes the meltdown starts before I have even had the chance to say: for the love of Pete, please eat! 🙂 good tip about favorite part of the day. She has already figured out how much she loves recess! Lol But her 2nd choice is usually math workstations–if I have a math whiz in our future, then I will need a tutor. English all the way here!

  7. Holly Whitacre (former student of Miss Dill's)💜

    September 30, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    I teach 1st grade, AND I have a kindergartener and a preschooler. Truth is, regardless of age, students are pushed super hard all day long. With today’s standards, sometimes in ways that are beyond their reasonable cognitive development. ((Soap Box Alert))

    The days of nap time and lengthy play times or recesses are gone for today’s kindergarteners, and the demands for rigor continue to increase. These kindergarteners are still little and their stamina just isn’t always fully developed! At the end of a day of teaching, I’m beat. And here I am…a young adult! I can only imagine how my kindergarten daughter feels!

    Time to decompress, have a good snack, and get some nurturing QT from Mommy &/or Daddy is the best we have to offer. Old school or new school parenting aside, kids are pushed hard (not that this is always a bad thing) and we have to remember they are still just babies in this big world who need down time to JUST BE KIDS. The fits and crying flat out “suck,” but don’t we all have days or phases in life where we feel the same inside? 😉

    • luvboxerdogs

      October 1, 2016 at 11:21 am

      Holly:
      Thank you so much for stopping by and giving us your perspective of both a teacher and a parent! I completely agree that what she is learning is of course above and beyond what many of us learned in 1st grade. And I admire her teacher (and like her too!) so much at how she is balancing kids who still have trouble using the restroom independently and teaching them to write stories. I mean–I’ve been a 3rd, 4th, 5th grade teacher–I know what it’s like, but have no idea the special kind of people it takes to teach Kindergarten and 1st grade. 🙂

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