Kindergarten Fantasy vs. Reality

For years, since my first baby was old enough to throw tantrums and beg to paint things and cover them in glitter, I have waxed poetic about how glorious the start of kindergarten would be. All day, 5 day a week childcare that will teach him stuff and encourage him to paint FOR FREE, YO. (Give it up for public schools! Woot woot!)

Other parents talked about holding their kids back an extra year, doing home-kindergarten, or completely committing to homeschool, and I just held onto my vision of that fantastic entry into the world of public education. They had very good arguments for why they weren’t sending their child to kindergarten at age 5 (or ever), and I had this:

KinderFantasy copy

I mean, why pass THAT up?

Except that our kindergarten reality actually goes a little something like this:

KinderReality copy

I briefly contemplated home-school after the first week because that’s how hard I got my ass kicked by this new routine. If you know me well, you know that was a whole new level of desperation for me.

Let me be very clear, I am not judging the homeschoolers. Heck, I admire you for your dedication to your children’s education. But I? AM NOT, AND CAN NEVER BECOME A TEACHER. Nope. Never, ever in my life have I ever had a desire to teach anyone. And, oddly, I’m even more averse to being responsible for my own offspring’s education.

All hope is not lost, though. While our life may never look like it did in my fantasy, the reality is becoming… routine? There are more happy smiles from everyone. Kendall (my kindergartener) is managing to learn the rules, even if none of us like them. (No talking most of lunch?! Pretty hard for an outgoing kiddo bursting with energy to follow that one. It would be pretty hard for me, too.)

I’ve tabled my search for alternative education methods, and am slowly adapting to the early wake-ups required to get  him to school by 7:20, also known as WHO FUNCTIONS THIS EARLY a.m. I’ve officially sworn off the car line because EFF THAT. We live close enough that I can literally walk to school, retrieve him, and walk home before we would make it through the line (with a screaming infant and irritated toddler in the back seat).

And the car line was one of the things I looked forward to most! Drive by drop off, no bras or teeth brushing required! You know what I really want now? A bus stop. Right in front of my house. Why yes, I WOULD happily place my 5 year old on it every day.

Then if I could just hire some sort of morning-nanny to take on the task of detaching his invisible claws from his bed in his half-awake rage, and ignored all the fundraiser requests, it would almost look like my fantasy.


You may have noticed those amazing illustrations above? I am so excited to introduce Gabbi of My Little Blue Jar as a new guest contributor of sorts. She also happens to be my sister-in-law. She’s super talented, right? I keep trying to tell her this. Feel free to embarrass her by liking her My Little Blue Jar Facebook Page. 


50 Things to Do Before You Deliver: The First Time Moms Pregnancy Guide
Available now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

  • 242


  1. I’m doing ‘faux’mschooling (I made that up) with my 4 almost 5 year old at home. My mail goals are to get her to shut her mouth and sit still for a couple of hours at a time. So far, she’s failing. But she’s learned a lot including how to try my freaking patience. I’m not cut out for homeschooling (at least, not HER)–but I would if I had to.

    Ours will ride the bus, because she’ll HAVE to. It’s too far to get 2 other kids (which we’ll have by next year) out in the weather.

  2. You just burst my kindergarten bubble, Jill. But I can forgive you because these illustrations are AWESOME. Go sister-in-law!

  3. My daughter was in full-day, 4 day a week preschool for three years and this year, kindergarten, is kicking our ass too. It just seems that all of the sudden every is SO amped up. She’s also not allowed to talk in class and they have a whole litany of classroom rules that they have to follow. Then they gain or lose points, based on how they’re doing with the rules. Every time I start to bitch about it, my husband reminds me how truly awful and stressful it’d be to be BY YOURSELF with 18 5 year olds for 8 hours. So then I shut up. Thankfully, my daughter is loving it so far. But yeah, it’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be and certainly more intense. It’s still fun for them but PreK now seems like such, well, kids play, in comparison. I’m sure in a year, two years, etc., though I’m going to realize just how fun and “easy” K was.

    Love the pictures! She’s a great artist!

  4. Yeah, no talking at lunch?!?!?! That is CRAZY!!!
    I would have to agree with you…the bus is my savior!! The stop is my driveway and my 4 year old got into the FREE 5 day a week class at the elementary school so each morning I get to put 2 kids on the bus and there is even a bus that brings her home in the mid afternoon (1/2 day pre-K) No more drop offs and pick ups that run dangerously close to the baby’s naptime!

  5. This post had me chuckling! Our oldest started kindergarten this year and our youngest started PreK-4!! The routine is a definite butt-kicker, especially when you add in dance lessons and piano lessons twice a week! All three of my little ones are early risers, so that part is easy for them and exhausting for me (yawn!) 🙂

  6. I had my third baby the day before my oldest started kindergarten and it was the hardest period of my whole life! I feel your pain. It does get easier, especially when #2 goes as well. 🙂

  7. We have a same-but-not problem. My kindergartener (the youngest in his class) still wakes up by 5:30 99% of the time, so by the time we are walking out the door at 7:30, he’s complaining he’s too tired to walk. Oh, the rage that boils up within me. But he’s only been sent to the principal’s office once, so yea!

  8. We decided to do online public school (started last week). Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but I felt EXACTLY the same way after the first week, the new routine kicked my ass and brought me to a level of desperation I didn’t even realize was possible. I’ve been lamenting about why I didn’t just put him into regular public school. Now I’m realizing that there’ no easy way through any of this, which you think I’d have recognized this little fact about parenting by now! This week is already easier, and I am beginning to think we may all survive after all!

  9. You describe my life minus the extra children. I’m due in Feb with #2 though so it should be interesting. I do the wake ups and get her dressed and my husband drops her off. The few times I’ve dropped her, I’ve barely made it on time. The morning fight to get up is hell every morning. She just doesn’t want to do it. I fear the teenage years. :/

  10. Genevieve Sawyer Baumann on

    I haven’t decided if Kindergarten is going to be the best thing ever or a total disaster. We are moving in the spring and my oldest will start Kindergarten that August in a new state. I’m trying not to think about how we will manage to get his 6 month and 2 year old siblings to one place and him to another while still making it to work before noon. The only thing I think that might save us is that my children wake up, ready to go at 5:00 am

  11. Brienna Hammer on

    I love the illustrations! Did you notice that it looks like your vagina has a smiley face drawn on it? I’m cracking up here!

  12. There's Just One Mommy on

    LOL — the car line. Yep, I got that. It would be an hour and a half for her on the bus and it takes us 20 minutes to drive there. So I drive. But no car line for me; I park a street away and walk her. I can get her to the door and back home faster than that line would move!

  13. Christie Bradley on

    No talking at lunch–I didn’t think any schools still did that! It was like that at my school and it was awful. They sit you right next to other kids and then say no talking. And with us if too many kids talked we all had to sit down through recess. The more I think about it the weirder it is. Supposedly you go to school rather than homeschool so you can learn to socialize, but then it’s no talking while standing in line, no talking in the lunchroom, no talking in the classroom unless it is about a specific assignment, no talking on the way to the busses, etc. lol maybe we go to school to learn how to keep our mouths shut?

  14. OMG the car line. It never gets any better, and sometimes can get a whole lot worse. Last year picking up my youngest from school took 2 hours. Every. Single. Day. This year my middle schooler is too close to ride, but way too far to walk. (1.9 miles from the school, across two 4-lane highways) My younger two ride the bus, but I’ve yet to make it home before them now. I’m lucky my 8 year old is responsible, but this isn’t going to work long term. My eye starts twitching driving back from the middle school to home thinking about all the what if’s the youngers could be into.

  15. We live around the block from the school, so we just walk her. There’s no point to trying to fight the cars. But her class starts 8am, so it’s a 7am wake up to make sure she’s ready to go… my husband works nights… which means I get up to make sure they’re dressed, he handles breakfast, and he walks them to school while I go back to bed. *evil laughter* (keep in mind this also means I’m up all night if someone’s sick, having nightmares, or whatever, I’m on my own, so this gives me 3 hours of sleep at most where I can actually SLEEP.)

    I also pretty much refused to do any sort of fundraiser. They’ve pretty much said unless you make more than $58,000 a year your kid gets free meals (we pack hers anyway, she hates their food.) They can talk at lunch though, but they only have 20 minutes to eat, which means she comes home with half her lunch and eating it when she gets home (2:30pm.)

    How’s the reading going though? Ours requires 100 sight words before first grade, and the pressure is ON. THIS is why I considered homeschooling. My daughter can handle it. My son will be a young 5 year old (she’s turning 6 next month, so she’s an old 5 year old, but when my son would start he would be 5 by only 4 months, and boys can have a slower start in reading (not that they’re dumb, but brains develop differently when your focus is physical and physics not language…) I don’t want my kids labeled slow or dumb by the school for not reading in kindergarten.

  16. We are moving to proper school in January and all I can say is thank God for school buses. I still think having to have children at school for 720 am flies in the face of all that is known about when and how children learn. So with you on the home school front. I am a trained primary (elementary) school teacher and there is no way that I am teaching my daughter. I could homeschool just about anyone else but not her. Oh and no talking at lunch time… seriously that is just not right. Are there any other school options in your area?

  17. Oh, there’s one thing that really tries my patience. Our teacher makes the parents line up outside the door and then sign out the kids. As far as I can see, none of the other kindergarten teachers do this. We stand there, signing out our kids while she calls their name… rain… snow… sleet… she’s made it clear this is for the REST OF THE YEAR. And if they don’t settle, then she’s been known to keep them for 5 minutes after the bell… absolutely nuts. Meanwhile the class nextdoor goes out to play on the playground to wait for their parents…

  18. No!!!! No, Do not burst my bubble!!! I have 11 more months until that glorious day when my kids go to school full time. I will not have it! I will not have anything other than what is pictured under “fantasy.” Maybe it will be different for me that my kids are the same age and I will not have any little ones at home. Please let me have that. 😀

  19. Oh man, I know that feeling. (Love this by the way!)

    Actually, my oldest’s Kindergarten experience was not too far from fantasy (he LOVED kindgergarten, and I not only got a break from his constant jibber jabber but ENJOYED hearing him chat about REAL THINGS after school), though the schedule change was still atrocious. It went ok with my second too. With my third…I am for the first time every considering homeschool, because it’s a month in and he still says he hates it every other day, even though his teacher seems sweet and capable. But I just don’t know if I CAN. I DID teach, 7th grade, and failed miserably at it. In summers I try to teach my kids Spanish at home, and am barely approaching adequate and that’s only one subject.

  20. OMG 7:20a.m.? That’s heinous. The school where I did my student teaching often had “silent lunches” as punishment if the kids were too loud. Umm, worst idea ever. Sure, let’s take away their only time to socialize and see how that affects the rest of their day. Hmmm.

  21. I do not understand the car line. I don’t understand how there can be that many people who live too far to walk but there is no bus. It seems really odd.

  22. When mine were that age kindergarten was only a half day, you no sooner finished bundling everyone up to walk to school when you had to do it all again to pick them up. Love the illustrations!

  23. Sister friend – your experience with the TX Education Association has just begun. I’ve been knee deep in it for 3 years now and just you wait ’til 3rd grade starts. JUST. YOU. WAIT. I too experienced what you’re going through in Kinder and I spent the entire first semester touring alt. schools and considering an Amish lifestyle. Alas, the lack of funds and crazy commuting it would have taken to break free of Public Education triumphed and I’m now entering the world of STAAR testing and 5th grade curriculum for 3rd graders. My advice? Sit down with your principal and teacher, voice your concerns, you must speak up to get the change you want. Spearhead the “Don’t talk with food in your mouth, but talk after you swallow” Committee for your lunch room! I know, I know, in all the “spare time” you have, right? 🙂 Hang in there, it gets better, I promise. You have just moved into a new realm of parenting Jill that has evolved from only teaching the fundamentals (talking, walking, etc.) into having to raise a full on contributing member of society. I have a hunch though, if she’s inherited even a small percentage of your genes, everything is gonna be just fine. 🙂 xoxo

  24. the no talking at lunch is giving me the urge to vomit as I consider my now-3 year old entering kindergarten in a year (here, that’s when they start). what the hell? seriously? every day? can that even be healthy in the slightest?!?

  25. We live down the street from a school and that’s a pretty accurate depiction of the traffic.

    I’m a homeschooler and it’s tough. I had a fantasy about the kids sitting there, soaking in the knowledge. Most days, it’s pretty much 6:40am.

  26. So this is what I have to look forward to when my daughter starts kindergarten next year? YIKES! I live 1.4 miles away from the school, too far to walk yet too close to get the bus to stop at our house. I got a glimpse into my future with your sis-in-law’s drawing of the cars at 3:57. LOL

  27. oh my god. i just died from those cute illustrations! i think i’ve checked her website before? and maybe i was thinking, gosh these look SO familiar! haha, i forgot she was your sis-in-law.
    anyways, you shoulda seen me the 1st and 2nd day of school with the goddamn car lane. lucky for me, i have a bus stop at the front of our duplexes and oh. my. god. yes!
    i was SO torn this summer trying to choose public or homeschool, and needless to say the kindergartener chose to public school but now each morning wakes up, about the same way as Kendall…. 😀

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.