Scarlett's first week of school

bus

Things have been a little sideways here at the Warner household.

We are struggling to get everyone into the regular school routine.  For Perth's newest Junior Kindergartener, it has been especially burdensome.  There have been highlights, but for the most part, it is really, really difficult.

She started on Friday.  Saying good bye was hard, but she had a good day.  On Sunday night, I told the kids they had to get to bed early because school was the next morning.  Upon realizing that school isn't a one time deal and she had to go back tomorrow, she said (through tears):
"Mom, I'd like you to retire me."

I told her that no one can retire until they have lived a long time and had grey hair.  Sensing a Monday morning disaster, we decided bribery was the best plan: she woke up to a sticker chart.  She marched on the bus without incident.  According to Nevin, who will get a sticker for saying hi to her at recess (it was the best we could think of, all things being equal), she cried as he dropped her off and cried the entire recess after he said hi as he stood with her on the other side of the fence.  Put on your motherhood shoes for a moment and dwell on that visual: two children separated by a chain link fence, one being strong and the other devastated.  Man, I need yoga, wine and a tissue.

The next day I had to carry her, sobbing, to the bus stop.  As I held her, she told me:
"I wish we could go on a ginormous vacation, even longer than summer vacation, and not come back until my hair is grey."

Bribery was no longer effective.  I had to carry her on the bus and peel her off of me.  By the way, our bus stop is on one of the busiest streets in Perth, so half the town had the pleasure of witnessing this tragedy.  (Granted, there are only two streets that go north-south but that just furthers my case that literally half the townsfolk are watching.)

This morning, she didn't scream as the bus rounded the corner (small victory!), but she cried as I held her.  Between sobs, she said:
"Mommy, I'm trying so hard to be brave."

So, here we are.  My daughter is heartbroken over leaving the nest and her straightforward honesty breaks my heart every morning.

But here's where things get redemptive.  This post isn't entirely about the trials of starting school or the adorable things my daughter says.  It is also about community.  Because while we are living these hard moments in the busiest-street-in-Perth fishbowl, people are rallying around us.  Her teacher has emailed me unsolicited reassuring pictures of Scarlett making friends.  Her bus driver stopped by her classroom at lunch to say hi in a more neutral location.  And called me after the first peel-my-child-off-of-me incident to say that Scarlett had calmed down right away and it was okay.  And got Scarlett a little dollar store present for being brave.  My friends who have asked me about the transition have listened with sincerity when I've unloaded my truths.  I went to the local hardware store, and one of the salesmen stopped me, introduced himself, and said in the kindest way that he sees us on his commute every day and was wondering how we were doing.

Yes, this is a hard moment, but we are not in it alone.


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