Monday, September 02, 2013

First Day of School...and Ellie Getting Lost

It's here! It's here! When Eliana was born I remember thinking that kindergarten was a million years away. Time passes in an obscenely fast manner.

I decided we needed to do something special to recognize Ellie's first day.  We didn't spend any time at all prepping for it on Saturday so I had to do a mental scramble on Sunday to come up with something.  I also had to come up with something for dinner.  We had Alaskan Waffles.
Waffles with peanut butter, vanilla ice cream, and syrup
As far as I know, the only reason they are called Alaskan Waffles are because my mom's college roommate from Alaska introduced them to her.  Or maybe it's because of the ice cream.  I don't know.  But they're small doses.  I think I just need to put less peanut butter on the waffles.  My thought was that the meal would become a tradition for the night before school dinner.  Probably not.
Fascinated with a random bug on our porch.  "There's dirt on our uniforms from chasing all the ants and worms..."
Eric gave Ellie a father's blessing.  It was so sweet to see Ellie folding her arms and bowing her head as he prepared to bless her.  I teared up and I think Eric did too.  Mostly I wrangled the other two kids to keep them from crawling all over everyone.

After the father's blessing I thought I should turn on the camera and interview Ellie.  I definitely want that to be a tradition.  It will be fun to look at in the coming years.  I do not, as Ellie suggests, leave food on the ground for her to eat.  I can't seem to get it to upload the video here, but for people who actually know me, I posted it on Facebook.
She was super excited to start school, if you couldn't tell.
Because I am super lucky to personally know Ellie's teacher, I was able to give her a quick phone call to see if it's kosher for me to stop in to the classroom to snap a couple of pictures of a uniformed-Ellie in her classroom, at her desk, and with her teachers.  They're pretty strict on the rules at Liberty (one of the reasons I was drawn to it) so I thought I should just check.  Her teacher was expecting it.
If there was ever anyone to whom I was willing to give my daughter for school, this is the woman.
I left Maya and Quintin with Eric's dad so I could focus on just Ellie.  We walked in the school at the same time as another mom and daughter going into kindergarten.  It was also her first child in school.  It's nice to know I'm not alone.  We snapped pictures of our little cuties and walked them into their class.  I was happy to see their teacher and give her a hug and best wishes...and ask for a couple of pictures.  Ellie was just ready for me to be gone so she could get moving on her assignment to draw a picture of herself.  She's very much like me in that respect: very independent, though she seemed more confident than I felt on my very first day of school.
There's a kid at the desk behind her who hid every time I busted out the camera.
After lending our little sign to the little girl we met on our way in, I packed up and left my little girl behind in her classroom.  I may have gotten only slightly misty, but my time of crying my eyes out because of the close of one phase of life and the beginning of another were past.  I'd come to terms with it, thankfully.  Ellie never saw me blubber about it and that's good.
Bittersweet picture.  I love it but it means she's growing up.
There was, however, about a half hour of blubbering at the end of the day.  Here's the background:  Parents were sent an email survey asking about preferences for bus opportunities.  I responded that I would be interested but that my daughter was starting kindergarten and I wasn't sure yet.  At the back to school night I asked the lady at the bus table if it was available for half day kindergarten.  She said it was not and I didn't give it a second thought.
My little poser.
Now for the rest of the story:  Ellie's first day of school was a very busy one that included dress rehearsal for the girls' last dance performance of the summer.  I arranged for one of the neighborhood moms (her daughter was also in the class) to take Maya to her dress rehearsal, as it started exactly when I was supposed to be there to get Ellie.  Then the plan was to have her change into her stuff and we would be there just when Ellie's class was rehearsing.  Well, the other mom had been watching someone else's kids and their mother wasn't able to get back on time, making her late to pick up Maya.  It was stressful for me, but what can you do?  I rushed over to the school and waited in the carpool area.  They have that carpool down to a science, let me tell you.  Anyway, when I got to where Ellie should have been, she wasn't there.  They called her name on the megaphone.  They called it over the PA system.  I started to get nervous as they went to her teachers to ask where she was.  When the answer came back that she had been put on the bus because her name was on the list I had to choke down the panic.  I had not looked at the emails with bus routes or stops because I thought it was unavailable for Ellie.  They suggested I go to the front of the school and ask for help there.

I parked the car and hauled Quintin out.  There were several people around the front desk working through all the first day of school stuff.  I interrupted a woman who WOULD NOT stop chatting with the receptionist to tell them my five year old daughter had been put on the bus when she should not have been.  I had already been late to the school, so who knows how long the buses has been gone or which one she was even on, for that matter.  One of them said, "Oh, how scary," and remained planted in her seat, while another asked me if I hadn't wanted her to ride the bus just for that day or if we needed to change it to carpool every day.  Not helpful, ladies.  Not helpful.  I don't think they understood she was missing.  by that time I had spotted a paper with the list of bus routes and asked for it.  I decided which route and stop were my best bet and asked for a copy.  "Sure, let me go find a copy machine..." was the response.  I think they finally understood what was happening when I sprinted out the door as soon as the copy was in my hand.
I drove to the most likely bus stop while making phone calls to let the mom who had Maya know that I wouldn't be able to pick her up as planned, due to a missing five year old.  When I arrived at the bus stop there was one other car there.  I pulled up and confirmed that she was waiting for the bus and what time it came.  There was still another 10 minutes before it was scheduled to arrive.  Then I called Eric to let him know.  I'd figured there was no use in panicking him without cause or while I was trying to make sure my two year old wouldn't also get lost.  That's when I started with the sobbing.  I'd held it together pretty well before then.  Eric started driving to a couple of the other stops on the list while I waited and prayed that she hadn't just gotten of the bus in the next town over.

When the bus arrived all the other moms had their cameras out and taking pictures of their kids getting off.  I stood around with tear stained eyes hoping that each child to step down would be mine.  When the last kid got off I still hadn't seen Ellie.  With growing panic I ran around the bus and looked in the windows.  No Ellie.  Not ready to give up (but ready to call the police) I started to board the bus and there she was.  She'd laid down on her seat while I was walking around.  I cried some more but tried not to show Ellie how terrified I'd been.  No sense in scaring her.  She asked me why I hadn't told her she was going to ride the bus.  My brain almost exploded with that one.
Little girl, big new world.
So all's well that ends well.  I got it worked out with the school the next morning.  She's not riding the bus anymore.  Maybe next year.  But Ellie is LOVING school as much as I could hope.  So am I.

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