Friday, August 23, 2013

School Anxiety

My five year old will be starting school in two weeks and I'm not sure if we are ready.  And by "we" I mean "me."  I do think he has come to terms with the fact that he will be starting Kindergarten.  In the beginning he was very nervous and said he didn't want to go, but then he went to a Kindergarten prep "camp" of sorts for two weeks and I think he saw that it wouldn't be much different from the two years of preschool he just completed.  He seems totally fine with the prospect of starting school now, thank God.

I, on the other hand, am a bit nervous.  Not about sending my son off to begin the next 13 years (or hopefully 17 years) of learning, but about having to be involved.  With other moms.  Who will no doubt be very different from me.

I am older.... in my ((cough cough)) 40's (closer to early 40's, but next year I'll be closer to the mid's).
I work full time, 8 to 5, every day
Our son is an only child

This feels like the trifecta, the perfect storm for not fitting in.

I can't relate to the other moms.  I only recently heard the song "Blurred Lines" for the first time.  They don't play that on XM's 80's on 8 satellite station.

I won't be able to volunteer at the school on a weekly basis. I'll drop CD off on my way to work and my husband will pick him up on his way home.  No extra time to stand and chat in the drop off/ pick up line.  No getting together to hit the gym or take a walk while we pass the time waiting for school to end. Probably won't be able to fit in many PTO meetings either.

I won't know any of these parents on day one because I don't have other kids that have gone through the school system. Some days I feel like we are the only parents in a one-child family.  We didn't intend it to be that way, but it's just how it has worked out.  And given my age, the ship has pretty much sailed on this one (so please stop asking when number 2 is coming thankyouverymuch).

My husband and I are very active socially with our core group of friends that I've known since my twenties.  But they don't all live in our town, nor do they all have children.  Now that CD is starting school I know it's important for us to make friends with the parents of his classmates so we can plan play dates, and such, something that will be crucial for an only child since he does not have anyone at home his own age.

I don't want to sound like I'm anticipating only bad things and this is all in my head.  It's not.  For two years we tried to fit in at CD's preschool.  People were nice enough, but we always felt like outsiders.  At school sponsored events we would try to strike up conversations, but they didn't go much farther than the pleasantries.  We typically are likable people, I swear.  We aren't degenerates and we don't smell funny (well, I don't think we do).  We just found that a lot of the other parents at that school knew each other already.  They were around the same age, many of whom went to high school together.  We felt like they intentionally didn't want to include others that they didn't know.

I hate cliques.

Ironically toward the end of his last year of preschool I started to fit in a little more.  CD was invited to a number of birthday parties and we always went to them.  They typically were at a local inflatables play place, so it was easy to mill around and talk to different people for short periods of time, while keeping a watchful eye on the kids.  Even though we would ask him every day who he played with at school, our son always replied "I didn't play with anyone today.  I don't have any friends at school."  However when we would go to these birthday parties and I'd introduce myself almost always the reaction was "So you are CD's mom!  My son does not stop talking about him!!"  Apparently our son was highly regarded among his classmates, although he would never let onto this fact at home.  This finally gave me a little more leverage when it came to socializing, but it was a little too late.

When it came time for his birthday party mid-August I asked who he wanted to invite and he gave me four names.  It was nice having their mom's at our house for his party but I still didn't feel like I fit in entirely. Part of that may have been because I was trying to chat with them, while also checking on the other 30 guests (family members). I guess I just feel awkward when it comes to small talk.  Plus, we have an odd sense of humor (says the woman with the pair of jeans hanging on our porch wall, that were ripped off one of our friends at our "Redneck" party or the giant stuffed boar's head looming over our table where we serve our summertime guests)

I know we have to try extra hard and be there for every school sponsored event so people will get to know us.  I plan to approach parents and start up conversations, as hard as that may be.  But I'm still fearful of being the outsiders.  I fear it will eventually hurt our son and that is the last thing I want to do.

I plan to keep an open mind and a positive attitude.  But I am also a realist and like to plan for all the "what ifs!"

If anyone has some experience with this, please share it in the comments.  I can use all the encouragement I can get!