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Friday, August 19, 2011

Blog Friend Feature: Old Tweener

This week's Blog Friend Feature is an amazing writer. Her words never fail to make me feel. I've always thought that of her. But, when she sent me her guest post on Wednesday night, I was in the middle of making sure I had everything set to go for the following morning: my middle son's first day of kindergarten. I read with a smile on my face... until the tears came. It was such perfect timing. I feel honored to be able to host her words here.

Meet Sherri from Old Tweener:

School Daze

It seems these past few weeks that everywhere in Bloggy Land and Twitterville kids are heading back to school.

Which means about half of the mommy population is giddy and crowding the local Starbucks; the other half is left weeping in the school parking lot.

New backpacks are loaded with supplies, pants that are just a bit too long are rolled up, and everyone has freshly trimmed hair.

It’s go time.

And that first day of kindergarten?


When you are a new-to-elementary-school parent, you aren’t quite sure what to expect. There is this strange pull somewhere inside you to make sure the teacher knows what an unusually smart and adorable child you are entrusting her with.

Even if you didn’t think you were that kind of parent.

Because deep inside? We all are.

On my son’s first day of kindergarten all of the proud camera-toting parents were allowed to crowd into the back of the classroom and turn paparazzi as the shiny new kindergartners sat on the ABC rug and introduced themselves one-by-one.

I haven’t seen a prouder group of adults gathered anywhere since.

Cameras flashing, mothers waving, proud dads ignoring the cell phones for just a bit.

Each one of us convinced that our child would be the best-in-show.

After each child had gone to the front of the class, met the teacher, and introduced themselves to everyone they all sat back down on the ABC rug.

And that’s when it happened.

“Turn around and wave good-bye to your parents!” the cute young teacher said to her 20 new captives.


We leave now?

Awkward glances shot around the room as we started to file out. Still waving, of course, but now with pinched lips and a forced smile.

Then the worry set in.

Did I pack the right snack? Will he be able to undo the snap on his jeans when he has to use the big boy potty? Can he open the small milk carton? Reach the soap dispenser? Pump on the swing? Remember that W and X are two different letters, not strung together like they seem to be in the ABC song?

And as the kindergarten year progressed I started to realize that these things I thought were so very important before starting kindergarten?

Didn’t seem to matter as much as the basics.

Being kind, waiting your turn, sitting still for a bit and listening to the teacher…these were important.

They were just a group of twenty random little kids, all sizes and abilities, thrown together in one room with one common goal.

To get to First Grade.

And they all did it in their own way, whether they wrote their name perfectly on that very first day or struggled with the pencil until late May. Milk cartons were opened with help if they needed it. Teachers can always help with stubborn snaps and zippers. Colors and shapes and alphabet letters all learned by the end.

This initial group of 20 kindergartners is starting to head off to college now, finding their way in a world we all spent the past 18 years preparing them for. Some made it with extra help along the way; others needed extra challenges. But they are all reading, writing, and can recite their colors if asked.

Proud parents with cameras will once again crowd around taking pictures in dorm rooms and forcing a smile when it’s time to leave.

And the kids? They’ll be doing a happy dance, because they’ve made it all this way.

Lessons learned on the playground and in the classroom all the way back to kindergarten helping them along the way.

Be kind. Wait your turn. Sit still for a bit. Listen to the teacher.

They’ll all do fine.

We’re the ones that have to adjust sometimes.

Old Tweener

Please leave Sherri some comment love here and then go follow her blog!

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Anonymous tracy@sellabitmum said...

Oh so true. We are the ones who make the bigger adjustments. While I am looking forward to school starting again, I will miss these kids like CRAZY!!!

August 19, 2011 at 7:36 AM  
Blogger Natalie @ MamaTrack said...

I swear, Sherri, you always write the most beautiful, heartfelt pieces. And this was no exception. My son is starting a co-op preschool this year (5 whole hours a week), and I know I'll struggle. I can't imagine if it were college.

Good luck!

August 19, 2011 at 7:38 AM  
Anonymous Galit Breen said...

Aww yay! Love you Sherri! And excellent choice Shell! XO

August 19, 2011 at 7:42 AM  
Blogger Siobhan said...

Oh gosh! I never imagined the first day of Kindergarten for my darling daughter. She's 3 in November but won't start till February next year (southern hemisphere) so I have some time to prepare myself. I'm still getting over the trasition from toddler stage to preschooler stage and toilet training. Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed your post. xxx

August 19, 2011 at 7:43 AM  
Blogger JDaniel4's Mom said...

This piece makes me cry. JDaniel is just starting preschool and I can feel the time already start to fly.

August 19, 2011 at 7:56 AM  
Blogger January Dawn said...

Hello tears! Oh my this was so perfectly written. I don't have a kindergartner yet but I can picture it all now. LOVED every word of this! Thank you once again Shell for introducing us to another one of your awesome BFF's.

August 19, 2011 at 7:59 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Oh Sherri touches my heart with every single post. Perfect feature!

August 19, 2011 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

I credit the "work" we had to do sorting out the school supplies that first day to diffusing the tears. Otherwise it wouldn't have been a pretty site.

August 19, 2011 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger By Word of Mouth Musings said...

ack Sherri, you get me every time. Keeping the girls home was the best decision I ever made
... that countdown for school to be over when everyone else was counting down for it too start was a good indicator we needed change.

But eventually they will go off, i know this ... and then i fly to your neck of the woods for solace ;)

Hello sweet Shell, loved your posts this week! You did fab with your boys - and now we are going to look for Sonic ;)

August 19, 2011 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger The Empress said...

I love this post, and I think sharing it on mamapedia would be a beautiful thing.
SO MANY PARENTS feeling this same thing, but not being able to put it into words.

That's what is wonderful about writers who do it for us in those moments that we just can't: seeing our feelings, down in words, is so healing.

Great post, S.

August 19, 2011 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger tessica said...

eh..the pants snaps...
I can't begin to explain the amount of angst I harbored over those things!

August 19, 2011 at 8:52 AM  
Blogger John said...

This is, simply, beautiful. But, I think we've all learned to expect "beautiful" when we're dealing with the Old Tweener's words.

I still can't imagine my kids in their first day of kindergarten (nevermind heading to college), but I know that, no matter how much I hear that I shouldn't, I'm going to obsess about the appropriateness of that first-day snack.

August 19, 2011 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger Evonne said...

What a beautiful post. And oh, so true! Sending our oldest off to Kindergarten was sad, but nothing compared to our youngest who started last year. I was nothing short of a hot mess!

August 19, 2011 at 9:11 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

So true! I just send my oldest to middle school today.

August 19, 2011 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Thank goodness for Zoloft, or I'd be balled up on the floor crying. My baby boy is headed to pre-k this year. Only 3 and ready to go out into the big world....without me. :( Thanks so much for this. I'm glad I'm not the only one comparing this to when he leaves for college. My husband thinks I'm crazy. I kind of am, hence the Zoloft.

August 19, 2011 at 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Sarah @ The Will to See said...

My son is going into first grade this year, so we just went through this last year. This year is a bigbstep too, because he is now staying all day. I think the kids handle all this stuff a lot better than most of the parents do.

August 19, 2011 at 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Mandi @My Perfect Mess said...

Oh! I only have a two year old and I'm crying!

August 19, 2011 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

Completely love this. Everything in it's so true. I can hardly stand to fast forward to the college bound summer - 9 years for one and 14 years away for the other. It's too emotional right now. I can't imagine there will come a day when I think it's really, truly time for them to leave the nest. But I know it will come. After all, that's what we're preparing them for every day, right? Eventually leaving the nest.

Ok, now that I'm bawling, I'm heading over to follow. I've seen you on Twitter, but don't know if I'm following you yet!

August 19, 2011 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Sherri said...

Oh Shell, thank you so much for having me over here today! I was so excited when you asked me.

And I may have to re-read this post a month from today, when my son starts college...

Hugs to you!

August 19, 2011 at 10:30 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

My oldest is going to start 2nd grade next week so I feel you on this post and the emotions for Kindergarten and first grade.

August 19, 2011 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Grumpy Grateful Mom said...

Wonderful post! I got a little teary-eyed. My daughter starts kindergarten this next week.

August 19, 2011 at 11:10 AM  
Blogger Jenn [ Crippled Girl ] said...

Sherri is such a great woman. I love tweeting with her! :)

August 19, 2011 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

Awww, this made me cry! It's all so true...Sherri captured it perfectly. Great feature Shell!

August 19, 2011 at 11:20 AM  
Anonymous Bridget said...

Sage advice, we have to adjust - not them. They're all ready for each step. Their built for letting go no matter how much we mom's want to hold on:)

August 19, 2011 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger Elaine A. said...

I love how you brought this full circle. The milestones just continue for us as our kids grow and we do to, as parents.

But I can say, I cannot IMAGINE right now sending a kid off to college! OH MY HEART! But God willing, I will be doing it someday... :)

August 19, 2011 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger Maggie S. said...

Terribly sweet. My girls start high school this year, so this is just over the horizon.

August 19, 2011 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger chambanachik said...

I loved this! I'm already choking up thinking about my daughter going to school, and she just turned one! :)

August 19, 2011 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger MommaKiss said...

for the love of GAH, woman, this made me all goosebumply. That is SO a word. You're the best.

August 19, 2011 at 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Paula @ Simply Sandwich said...

Oh sheesh Sherri...you did it again. Six days until I will be that camera-flashing parent in the dorm room. This is so different because she won't be coming home after her first day of school. Dunno if I can do this... :(

August 19, 2011 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger PhaseThreeOfLife said...

Dang it, she makes me cry no matter where she's posting! Loved this. My little guy turns 1 year old in a month and I think my heart might explode at the thought of all there is still to come.

August 19, 2011 at 1:59 PM  
Blogger Emmy said...

Okay I didn't think it would get to me too much as I did the kindergarten thing last year- but the end.. Dang had to fight the tears.

August 19, 2011 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger Rusti said...

I'm in tears - and we haven't even started pre-school yet!! (although we will be, in just a few months!) *sob* I'M NOT READY!

August 19, 2011 at 2:18 PM  
Blogger Venassa said...

I still have a long time before this day comes but I know it will probably fly by and I'll feel the exact same way. Beautifully written.

August 19, 2011 at 2:19 PM  
Blogger Shawna said...

Go Time is especially challenging when you're homeschooling because you don't actually go anywhere. So transitioning from a summer-break schedule into a school-year routine has been quite rough for us. ... I'm sorry I've been gone from blogland for so long, but I'm back. And this is one of my first stops. I haven't posted much at "My Girls," but I am getting back into the swing of things at "I Am That." I also have a brand-new poetry blog, my very first secret blog (my personal-life peeps don't know about it). You can read my poetry here: safehousepoetry.wordpress.com ... Shhh. Don't tell. :)

August 19, 2011 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger Rach (DonutsMama) said...

Oh my goodness, I'm NOT READY!! And my baby's only 7 months, but last week when she wanted to sleep in her crib in her own room all night for the first time, I cried. It's so hard leaving your babies and hoping you've given them the tools and skills to succeed. And you're right, those lessons about waiting your turn, sitting still, listening--so much more important than the right notebooks or snacks.

August 19, 2011 at 2:40 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Oh Sherri.

If I think too hard about the image I still have in my head of my youngest, my little girl, skipping across the playground to start kindergarten (her blonde hair in pigtails, her brand new shoes that seemed impossibly small for a child in elementary school) I will cry.

She was so ready. Her brother had gone the year before.

She knew the ropes.

All thirty pounds of her. Soaking wet. Maybe.

And now she is starting 7th grade. How is that possible? I realize now (what I didn't know then) that she will be gone before I can say "SAT prep class."

I feel like my parents couldn't WAIT to get rid of me. But maybe I was wrong. Or maybe my kids are just much more wonderful than I was.

Either way, I'm not ready.

Shell - look out, my friend. Time's flying. Already...

August 19, 2011 at 2:46 PM  
Blogger The Blonde Duck said...

That's so sweet!

August 19, 2011 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

OMG! You made me cry. My little one started Kindergarten this year and well be starting first grade next week. Just the thought of her leaving off for college... Just GAH! Now I'm a slobbery mess.

August 19, 2011 at 3:03 PM  
Anonymous molly said...

Well, I'm super special because I got to meet Sherri in PERSON and tell her how awesome she is.

Do I get bonus points for that, Shell?

Sherri, you know I love you :)

August 19, 2011 at 3:05 PM  
Blogger Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

Well done! I'll have a second and third grader this year and sometimes feelvthisvway thisvway!

August 19, 2011 at 3:16 PM  
Blogger Kristin @ What She Said said...

I don't have a child in college. Hell, I don't even have a kindergartener yet. But this post still left me with a knot in my throat. There's a saying or a book or something, isn't there? Everything I need to know in life, I learned in kindergarten?

I e-mailed this post to my kindergarten teacher mom. And told her she would cry.

August 19, 2011 at 4:32 PM  
Blogger Desperate Housemommy said...

Well said...and too true.

August 19, 2011 at 5:03 PM  
Blogger Teresa1982 said...

So true...it is hard to adjust to having school-aged kids. I mean, mine is just going to pre-k and I'm freakin' out a little on the inside.

August 19, 2011 at 7:09 PM  
Anonymous Tonya said...

I love Sherri and I am thrilled to see her here, Shell. I love you, too, BTW.

Lucas has only been in preschool for eight days and I know truer words have never been spoken You have supported me all week as my heart has been in my throat because it's been very difficult for us. For me. Thank you for this. Your timing is perfect. As usual. xoxo

August 19, 2011 at 7:48 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I love getting introduced to a new blogger! Thanks Shell!

My BA-BY starts kindergarten in two weeks! WAH!!!

Thanks for the insprirational words.

August 19, 2011 at 10:17 PM  
Blogger Tayarra said...

Mine starts next year. No matter how much I try to prepare or how ready he is I will still be the mom sobbing in the back. Thank you for your words.

August 20, 2011 at 12:14 AM  
Anonymous Robin @ Farewell, Stranger said...

I'm going to pretend I didn't read this. There's no way my little boy is going to be big enough to go to college one day.

Beautiful memories, and you're right about us having to adjust. Good thing, too - I love seeing them raring to go.

August 20, 2011 at 1:17 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Oh, how I love Sherri's writing! That first day of kindergarten is a doozy! I can't imagine college...eek!

August 20, 2011 at 3:10 AM  
Blogger KSK said...

Wow! This was a great post! Kind of puts things into perspective... :)

August 20, 2011 at 12:38 PM  
Blogger Hopes@Staying Afloat! said...

What a touching and emotional post. My oldest is going into second grade this year, my second son will be in pre-k. They are ready and excited. This mommy, while excited that they will be going back to school soon and not out to kill eachother every morning, is just wanting the clock to slow down...just a tad.

August 21, 2011 at 3:14 AM  
Blogger Kristy said...

I am so grateful to be a parent because it gives me the perspective I need to be sensitive when working with parents at school. We all send our best to school everyday with the hope that they will be taken care of. Great post!

August 21, 2011 at 4:12 PM  
Blogger Lourie said...

What a wonderful post. And with all three kids in school, all over...elementary, middle and high school it's an adventure for sure.

August 22, 2011 at 1:57 AM  
Blogger Working Mommy said...

It is so true! It sounds like you've got everything under control...now all the other parents need to follow suit!


August 22, 2011 at 3:09 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

My son is starting a 2's program, I'm thrilled!

August 22, 2011 at 8:10 AM  
Blogger Lady Jennie said...

Sherri - you just hit the nail on the head with this one. I know I'll be that proud parent when my kid starts in 2 weeks. (Although since he's the third, I'll probably be ok about going off to enjoy some free time).

August 22, 2011 at 2:43 PM  
Blogger Rebecca Watson said...

Sounds like an amazing BFF! I'll have to go visit her!!!

August 22, 2011 at 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more year and then I'll be the crying in the parking lot parent.


August 23, 2011 at 11:05 AM  
Blogger Chicken said...

Aw, OT, I loved this. So true. Well done

August 23, 2011 at 12:41 PM  
Anonymous Tonya said...

As usual, Sherri has struck a nerve in me... the one I like to call the mommy nerve. With just 12 days of pre-school under his belt, I can feel Lucas growing up right before my eyes and time is moving just a little bit faster in our home. He's a big boy now and I'm a wreck. Sigh...

August 31, 2011 at 6:00 PM  

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