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Monday, August 31, 2009

1st Day: The Epic

Alternately titled 1st Day: The Saga or 1st Day: Endless Soliloquy or 1st Day: The Miniseries... because it is LONG, y'all.

Hey everyone! I didn't mean to leave y'all hanging on Friday, but I was totally consumed with my whining self too busy crying into my coffee mug to do anything productive like return emails or phone calls or even write a blog post about the Tongginator's first day of school. And then I left you hanging ALL WEEKEND, but I had a totally good reason. Actually, I had two good reasons: the annual neighborhood Back-to-School block party AND the birthday party of the Tongginator's bestest friends, twins Cinnamon and Spice. It was an exceptionally busy weekend for us, but I'm here now and ready to spill all about my daughter's first day of kindergarten: the good, the bad and the vague.

The Tongginator did great.

Tonggu Momma did... okay.

My Early Bird Daughter woke me at exactly 7:01 AM, just one minute past the official "you are SO gonna regret waking up momma" edict. She selected a brand-new dress with hearts all over it ("I want my teacher to know that I love school") and emoted a bit when I banned bracelets and rings. To soften the blow, I informed the Tongginator that I would attempt any hairstyle she requested. Oh, yes, I did. For those of you who don't understand how great a sacrifice that was, just know that Tonggu Momma routinely flunks hair. And you'll never guess what hairstyle the Tongginator selected... a french braid.


The Holy Spirit must have been with me because somehow I managed - for the VERY first time in my life - to eke out a french braid.

go ahead and applaud me, y'all... I totally deserve it
(and I am So Very Humble, too)

I watched how to do this just last week, when we tried a new hairstylist for the Tongginator... a woman in our town who gives her gruff instructions in Mandarin, yet conversely pats the Tongginator's cheek with a raspy "可爱妞 (ke ai niu)" or "cute litte girl."

The Tongginator ate an oh-so-healthy breakfast before heading out to the new play set for her mandatory 15 minutes of swinging to help with those sensory issues. (I was totally trying to avoid a Teacher Heart Attack on the very first day of school.) Then we trekked to the bus stop, the Tongginator completely loaded down with her brand-spanking-new backpack and matching lunchbox.

That yellow tag hanging from the Tongginator's Butterfly-Polky-Dot-Backpack?
Identifies any and all kindergartners at C Elementary so that they don't get lost.

The Tongginator loved seeing so many of the neighborhood Big Kids as well as the three kindergartners attending this staggered start day. (I now know how very blessed we are with the Tongginator's elementary school after reading your comments about our conference last week. I had no idea this was NOT the norm. Now I'll make you hate me even more by sharing that the kindergartners don't start until Day Three of the school year... and that only one-third of the class shows up for the next three days. So the Tongginator? Only attended class with five other children on Friday, while the other 14 children in her class either attended on Wednesday or Thursday. Monday is the first "real" day with all 20 children in class.)

As the bus rounded the bend, I couldn't help but tear up as I saw the Tongginator standing in line with the other children. All I could think of at that moment was the movie Rudy, when D-Bob sees Rudy on the Notre Dame football field and exclaims, "He's so little!"

and here's when I started crying...

Do you see those nice parents standing in the background of the picture above? Well, they actually have heads. And hearts, too. They are the family I told y'all about in my "What Matters Most" post. They have a biological, biracial Asian-American daughter blog-named Fin, plus they adopted their youngest daughter, Nemo, from Guangdong Province. They grabbed me, threw me into their car and we raced to the school, so that we could get photos of the girls with their teachers on the first day of school.

We beat the bus with 2.7 seconds to spare, then it slowly rolled past the school's kindergarten entrance - where we stood - to stop at the main entrance. The children filed off the bus in one huge horde, so I caught only a glimpse of the Tongginator before completely losing sight of her. The other kindergartners shuffled their way towards us... but not my Tongginator. WHERE DID SHE GO?!?!! And then I caught a glimpse of her french braided self as a sea of Big Kids swept her along through the main entrance.

We shouted the problem to Fin, who promptly raced away to Save the Day, but the Tongginator ended up walking out with another neighborhood Big Kid, who carefully escorted my Deer In The Headlights Kindergartner to the proper entrance.

One of the Horde, helping the Tongginator find her way

The Tongginator greeted her teacher, who gave her a warm welcome before she profusely thanked our resident Bid Kid Heroine AND very professionally rebuked the staff person in charge of directing kindergartners to the correct entrance. (I like her already.)

Mrs. Confetti... and yes, she really is, like,
a size 2 or some such obscene number

The Tongginator's class waited for one more bus - and the sixth and final kindergartner to arrive - before it was time to sign "I love you" and wave goodbye.

and here's when I started tearing up even more...

Fin and Nemo's momma (help me with a related nickname, y'all!) saw my tears and abruptly nixed my idea of a quiet Morning Moping At Home. She dragged me to a coffee shop, then a movie, before finally allowing me to go home just an hour before the bus was due to arrive.

I think this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

I couldn't wait to see my Tongginator again. I beamed as the bus rounded the bend for a second time that day, but this time bringing my baby back to me rather than stealing away with her. The Tongginator was the seventh child to come off the bus. Seventh! Not first, not second, not even third, but SEVENTH!

The Tongginator, climbing down the bus steps backwards...
see, she really DOES have motor planning issues

After the Tongginator arrived home and gorged herself on peanut butter toast with bananas, I was able to pull a few stories out of her. First, and most important, Mrs. Confetti announced that next week she will host Pajama Day. The Tongginator is quivering with glee about that, even three days later. Second, the Tongginator ate almost none of her lunch. Why? Well, possibly it's because she is The World's Slowest Eater and lunchtime lasts only 25 minutes, but also possible is the fact that she didn't stop talking long enough to eat anything. I can't exactly tell. Third, she enjoyed story time, just as she knew she would. And fourth, she saw another Big Kid from our Neighborhood Horde, since he is the sixth grade safety patrol member assigned to the Tongginator's kindergarten class. We are so blessed to have so many friendly faces surrounding the Tongginator, especially since Ms. Confetti might not be so friendly after a few days spent with said Tongginator.

Case in point...

TONGGINATOR: Ms. Confetti wanted me to read the book Here Comes Little Cat, so I did. After I finished, Ms. Confetti told me "VERY good, Tongginator." But then I told her, "that book was too EASY" and I got another book from the bookshelf. And I told her I was going to read that one instead, because it was better. And then I did."

Heh. Wince. That's my Tongginator.


Amy said...

Awwwwww. All of it - just too adorable for words.

Dawn said...

Yippee! That's an awesome first day in Kindergarten, if I do say so!

And even bigger yippee for that special mom who knew better than to let you go home alone. I have several friends that still meet for coffee, breakfast and then shopping, movies, etc. every year on the first day of school. Yes, even though our kids are teens. (Hey, we high school moms are still sad when our kids leave for school! Really!!)

Pajama day? Always a great day for the girly girls - opens up a whole new diminsion of "what to wear!" LOL

Blessings upon week #2!!!

Buckeroomama said...

Ah, your little T is not so little anymore... She'll do just fine, if her first few days are any indication of the year to come. :)

I remember seeing J off at the bus stop when he was to take the school bus on his own for the first time last year. I started tearing up and then ran to the car and tailed the bus all the way to school!

Tomorrow, Z goes on her first day of school... and I don't know what to expect, even though she's all psyched to go. *Sigh* We'll see how it'll go.

Briana's Mom said...

Snort. Well, at least Tongginator was able to express her opinion to the teacher with words, unlike my child. ;)

I'm so glad you were able to keep busy on the first day. Sounds like you have an amazing friend there.

I'm VERY impressed with the French braid.

Wow - I thought I had the slowest eater known to man. Bri does everything 100 an hour except when it comes to eating. I'm thinking T might beat her though. ;)

Good luck today. I know T will do awesome. I'm sure you'll do great too momma.

Andrea said...

You did great! When my youngest went to Kindergarten, another Mom took me out for coffee too. Now that all of them are in school all day, I do the Happy Dance at the bus stop!

Super Mommy said...

Aww, sending off your children to school is hard! You sound like you did a good job though - thanks to that thoughtful parent! And you did a wonderful job on that French Braid - I am so intimidated by them - I haven't attempted yet!

About lunch - Jade and Jasmine are the President and Vice President of the Slow Eaters Club - but somehow they manage to pick up the speed at school - they only get 25 minutes too. Tongginator will be wolfing down her food before you know it with plenty of time to spare!

Yay for PJ day . . . Tongginator is going to have a lot of fun!

autumnesf said...

She is so a girl after my own heart!

Oh, and if I lived near you, I would so take you out for a celebratory coffee/tea for the braid!! As a fellow hair flunky I so GET IT!!! You rock!!!

Aunt LoLo said...

Heh...1) my mama was a hair flunk-out as well. We had a lot of ponytails and headbands growing up.
2) The braid??? Looks. Awesome.

3) Glad Miss T had so much fun. :-D

Tammy said...

First.....two snaps up for you and that braid. I am more than impressed!!

And it sounds like such a wonderful start for Tongginator. I hope she has a fabulous first year of school.

And Phhhhbbbbtttt to the size 2 teacher. Aren't people normal sizes anymore??? *smirk*

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

Way to go on the french braid....I am sure you made her day extra special by letting her choose the hairstyle!!

Sounds like she had a fantastic first day and I am so glad you had a friend to help keep you occupied!

Hope this week goes well and she continues to like school:)


Anonymous said...

Oh the Tonnignator is a girl after my own heart! The first day of school outfit is oh-so-important and you've got to make sure you have some challenging reads around. I'm so glad she loved her first day and that you made it through!

Desiree' said...

So sweet!! I can not imagine how you felt that first day...well ican but it's been awhile. Hope goes to Kindergarten next year and yes, I will be a huge mess...Hopefully we will have made some friends in the neighborhood that will drag me away too!! BTW, I googled fin and flipper and got "Feather, limb, plumage" Not sure if any of those would work??? LOL

Anonymous said...

That is too funny about the book. My Kindie has the same idea and seems to think that her own prerogative is going to outrank the teacher. I fear that will be the day she finds her name in "the grumpy box". Man I miss Kindergarten already!

Anonymous said...

PS: That is one AWESOME braid! I had to do double french braids coming into a low bun with absolutely NO flyaways on the forehead for ballet last year. I stood in that dressing room in tears until a very kind Korean mom saw me and offered to do my daughter's hair for me. Bless her heart!

thegypsymama said...

Sigh. Just last night I was telling Jackson if he could just please slow down all this growing up he is doing. Good grief, already! How's a mama's heart to take it?

Glad to hear you treated it with all the prerequisites - mindless entertainment, food and friendship! Hang in there. Bet in just a couple weeks you'll be loving all the downtime! (maybe?)

Kayce said...

The braid is AMAZING!! The hair thing is one of my biggest fears with a little girl on the way. I have no clue on how to do that stuff!

I love your school district and I'm ready to move! Our kinder classes went from 20 to 32 this year due to budget cuts. It's awful. AWFUL!

Hang in there and enjoy all the fun projects that will be coming home in that super cute backpack!

Debbie said...

This post just makes me so happy! and when you said she didn't eat her lunch, I immediately thought "It's because she was talking"! That's OK. You'll feed her after school:)

Carla said...

Sounds like a great first day! You did an awesome job on the braid.

I'm LOL at the reading of a book story...I think it'll be okay and she'll just give her LOTS of more challenging books to read. ;)

and how about Dory? Or another Nemo name for Fin and Flippers Mom? Although that sounds like it should be a dolphin name or something.

Joan said...

Congrats on the first day!

When my oldest started Pre K three years ago, I teared up when she got on the bus and I also drove to the school. When she walked into the building I sobbed. A really nice lady said its ok if moms have a hard time. I am tearing up now thinking about it!

I am just getting ready for the emotions for my BAAABBYY ;-)

Thanks for the post... Its ok to cry!

malinda said...

To go with Fin and Flipper -- if it's appendages you're looking for, it has to be Foot, of course!

If you're going for sea life, then Fish, Fluke, Flounder.

Water creature good enough -- Frog, Flatworm.

Not to say I'd advise calling someone a flatworm . . . .

Glad T rocked the first day of kindergarten!

jen@odbt said...

Great job on the hair - I can barely put together a regular braid. I'm tearing up with you. TG looks like she owns the school - very confident and I love that she's already telling the teacher what to do ;)

Wanda said...

Great capturing her first day. One you both will remember always.


Misty said...

i think i hyperventilated then sighed with relief... i'm a mommy to boys. lots of them. which means no french braids. (no wedding gowns either, but no french braids). and i sure did make my mama do some braiding!
i'm so glad T's day went well, and that you did, too!! sorry i've been MIA... i plan on catching up soon!

Mei-Ling said...

"Well, possibly it's because she is The World's Slowest Eater and lunchtime lasts only 25 minutes"

You wanna bet on that?

It takes me 40 minutes on a regular basis to eat dinner. WITHOUT constantly talking.

On a good day, I can manage about 20 minutes if I'm absolutely ravished.

Me + Taiwan family = Kick-a$$ metabolism.

a little leprechaun said...

You did AWESOME!! And thank goodness for such wonderful friends! It is always so wonderful to witness God's work. He knew what you needed and he sent it to you in such wonderful friends!!

Love the story!! You've got to love T's honesty!!

Hope your Monday went smoothly!!

Patricia/NYC said...

Sounds like a fabulous first day!! Way to go, Tongginator!!!

OK...confession here...with our Kindergarten starting next week...I actually teared up looking at your photos...oh this is gonna KILL me!!! lol!!

Great post!!

Kristin said...

So glad she had an awesome first day.....and that mommy survived too. :-)

My nephew's school did the three day phase-in also for kindergarten. I had never heard of that before--and I've taught K for a long time!

Alyson & Ford said...

Great job on her hair... how did your do it? AA's hair is way too slippery!!
What a wonderful story of T.'s first day and yours too! Loved it!

Alyzabeth's Mommy (the s*cky mom who didn't take off from work to take AA to her fist day at preschool!). Thanks for all your encouraging words!

Jboo said...

What a great first day! Gorgeous hair -- you rock!!!


Anonymous said...

You rock! What a mama you are, FRENCH BRAIDS :). She is growing up!

Glinda said...

Hello, my name is Glinda, and I am a lurker ;).

Delurking to weigh in on your desperate plea for a nickname or Fin and Flipper's momma...first thought was Dorsal, after all they are one and the same--mother and dorsal--both are used to stabilize, balance and steer from danger.

Glinda, at your service.

P.S. Loved the story.

Tricia said...

That is such a sweet post about your baby's first day of school!

I stopped by just to tell you that I laughed out loud at the comment you left on Autumn's blog. I needed that laugh. Thanks!

God bless.

Sharie said...

First of all there is no way in h#l@ that I could EVER pull off a braid - much less a french braid - you are NOT a hair flunkie any more!

Second - Awesome that T has so many big friends at school to look out for her - I am banking on that for next year myself.

Finally - I think T came off the bus like that on purpose so you could get the perfect blog photo:)

discombobulated said...

I can't stand how cute that post is. I really did think about you a lot on Friday. Was going to call to see how you were coping, but ...I didn't. I'm glad you were otherwise kept occupied with a friend. Did you see Julia and Julia?

Suzy said...

See? Didn't I once blog that good neighbors were better than good fences? It sounds like you have the BEST neighbors - wow! How sweet are they to keep you busy when you would've otherwise moped all that time without your little Tongginator.

Kiy said...

Back to school block party? I am SO moving in next door to you (taking the whole blog stalking to a whole new level). I'll let hubby worry about that 3-6 state commute. :)

What a wonderful first day, for both of you. I can totally see why Fin and Flipper's mama needs a bloggy name! I have a feeling that Ms. Confetti is up to the task. And if she isn't, she will be by year's end.

Love Tongginator stories!

Cheers, Kiy

P.S. And I am totally loving T's school and don't even have one to compare it to. I am going to be eyeing any house going up for sale in your neighborhood. You've been warned! ;)

Mamatini said...

I had the same butterflies reading your poat that I had when Isa climbed the big yellow bus.

And as impressed as I am with your French braiding skills, I have to say the true testament to those skills is that her hair looks *just* as good when she's getting off the bus! By that time, Isa's hair is usually all over the place!

And the yellow tag reminds me of my own tag, from almost 40 years ago, that my mother saved in my baby book: it is still in the Saran Wrap covering she fashioned over it to protect it from the elements!

Myrnie said...

The french braid looks fantastic, and I'm excited to hear more about Tonginnator's first year at school :)

Anonymous said...

Well, you know if you back down the bus steps, it doesn't look like such a LONG way down.

Not uh... that I recall that very vividly. Nope.

Excellent braid - I remain completely unable to do one. Its a good thing Short Stuff is a boy.

Kris said...

omg best post EVER. the play by play (the mounting tears)... and my god that backpack that looks like it's big enough to topple poor little T right OVER but she hauls it like a CHAMP AND reads a BETTER BOOK??!!

oh i am in love with your T.

CC said...

What a day!!!! I'm not sure if I'm impressed or embarrassed that you put her on the bus and then drove to school yourself.... ;)

bbmomof2boys said...

Wow - you DID rock her hair!!

I'm not sure what my feelings will be when Little T starts school. I've been through it twice...wait...who am I kidding??!! I'll be just like every other momma who sent their baby to school!

Tongginator - way to teach your teacher!! Good job getting another book!


a Tonggu Momma said...

To ChineseDad (didn't have your e-mail): thank you so, SO much. I am usually extremely careful, editing and such! I can't believe I missed it. Changes made and hopefully all is well. As for comment publishing... I don't have it set to comment moderation. As soon as you comment, it goes straight on the blog. I did delete both of your comments, as requested, and cannot thank you enough. Usually I'm the one warning people about this.