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10 Terrifying Things About Kindergarten

Photograph by Twenty20

Kindergarten. It is a right of passage for every child. You pack their little backpacks up, make them a yummy lunch, snap that first day of school photo and send them on their way. It's a joyous time to see your little one all grown up and ready for school. What you don't know is that it is also a nightmare for you as the mom. No, not because you are sending your precious baby out into the academic world. You are now entering the school obligation and time consuming world that is elementary school.

Strap on your seat belts. Here are 10 reasons it's going to be a terrifying ride.

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1. Supplies

The supply list came in an email tonight (yes, they come via email now). It included all of the supply lists for grades kindergarten through fifth grade. The kindergarten list is manageable. I could buy it all online in seconds. However, just like looking up that weird rash you have on the Internet—or jumping to the end of a book—I skipped ahead.

Never a good idea.

I checked out the fourth- and fifth-grade supply list. There are folders. And colors. And multiple folders in different colors. Don't get me started on the pencils, markers and pens. What have I signed us up for?

2. Meal sign-ups.

To pack a lunch or not to pack a lunch, that is the $23.50 a week question. Do I want my son to eat a delicious and healthy meal I can monitor by packing it for him? Or do I let him be with the "cool kids" on pizza Friday and give him cash to spend on food, not really knowing if he will eat the fruit on the tray? Lucky for me, my son hates pizza (he's not from this planet. Don't worry, we already know), but it still causes some anxiety.

I am more than happy to provide every snack COSTCO can stock on its shelves but having to work in a classroom with 25 screaming kindergarteners is my personal nightmare.

3. After-school care

I am not a full-time, office-working mom. I am a freelancer who has to travel sporadically. After-school care for working parents is easy. Sign your kids up, and you are good to go. For those of us who are home most weeks, but have to travel others, it isn't so easy. It requires research, asking questions and taking time out of the last days of summer I want to spend with my son. Now I can't look for a full- or part-time nanny. I need a "Hey, can you watch my kid for two hours before his dad gets home" babysitter. They don't really exist from what I've seen.

4. Class volunteering

I didn't put my boys in a co-op preschool for a reason. I don't want to have to volunteer. My life is chaotic, and it is hard to commit months in advance when a freelance job might pop up. I am more than happy to provide every snack COSTCO can stock on its shelves but having to work in a classroom with 25 screaming kindergarteners is my personal nightmare. Can't I just stack books in the library? Hey, now that's a great idea. I'll talk to the principal about that one.

5. PTA meetings

Don't ask me why, but when I think of PTA meetings I think of being strong-armed into committees and tasks I have no interest in. Maybe that third season of Gilmore Girls stuck a bit more than I thought. Remember the episode when Lorelei has to go to the PTA meeting so Rory can get extra graduation tickets? Yup. I see myself as the lady who gets stuck with the cash box and loses the money. Lots of stuffy women talking over me and telling me what I will be doing instead of asking me. And my kid goes to public school! I guess I should wait to judge the neighborhood school PTA until the first meeting. Oh man, there are more meetings I have to schedule into my life now.

6. Snow days

Ahhh, snow days. You wake up in the morning all snug in your bed. You flip on the TV with your morning coffee only to hear that the county schools are closed. Apparently, you should have opened the window this morning and noticed that it snowed a foot last night. Time to cancel all plans and any work you were hoping to get done. You are back into 24/7 mom mode.

7. Birthday parties

I am not a Pinterest mom. I repeat, I am not a Pinterest mom. Do I have Pinterest boards filled with amazing cakes I could make for my kids? Of course, what kind of mother do you take me for? Do I have the patience for any of it? No. I choose to use my talents elsewhere. Birthday parties are the end-all-be-all of parental competition. "Guess what Zack's mom made today for his birthday? Lego Star Wars cupcakes with real jumping Yodas she cloned in her basement!" The bakery section of the grocery store and I made peace long ago. I'll swallow my pride and know that I give my kids amazing things in their childhood, just not in confectionary ways.

They ask you to donate tissues and anti-bacterial hand soap for a reason, you know.

8. Valentine's Day

Just like birthdays, I see Valentine's Day, Halloween, Easter and every other holidays as a way to show off what a crafty failure I am. More volunteer time goes into decorating the gym, making sure everyone has a costume, cupcake, bag of candy or Valentine's Day card. My mother never told me how complicated school was for her when we started. I think she has been holding back and is ready to laugh now that I am at that moment in my own life.

9. Germs

Yes, it is silly to think about germs at a time like this. My baby is about to start kindergarten. Let's get real though. My son has been to daycare (briefly) and went to preschool for three years. He has been exposed to germs. Kindergarten just holds so many new germs for him to bring home and spread to us—all so we can start that endless cycle of gross that seems to hit the first month of school for teachers, so why not my family too. They ask you to donate tissues and anti-bacterial hand soap for a reason, you know.

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10. Summer break

Finally, after nine months in school, my kid will return home. Like the prodigal son, I will welcome him back into my life with open arms. He will be with me 24 hours a day, seven days a week, never to leave until school starts again the following August.

Wait a minute. What am I supposed to do with him for almost three months? Now I have to sign him up for swim classes and soccer camp, plan vacations and arrange playdates so he can see his buddies, which he once saw every day at school. Somehow, once again, I got the short end of the stick.

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