This week we got Olivia’s kindergarten pictures back. Olivia is an adorable girl but why am I not surprised that her school pictures did not turn out quite as good as I had hoped? I must say I am not a fan of school pictures. I don’t like that they make you pay for them before you get to see them. It is a huge expensive gamble because you never know how good they are going to turn out. The dilemma always ends up that you only bought a few when they turned out great. Or you bought hundreds and they are horrible. Personally, I’d rather take my kids to get great shots by a wonderful photographer, see the proofs, and then order.

I am being dramatic when I say my daughter’s picture didn’t turn out that good. She’s beautiful but it just wasn’t her normally cute dimpled smile I was hoping for. It was a half-smile and she clearly didn’t seem entirely comfortable in front of the camera. Oh, well. I’ve got only one 5×7 and some wallets to show for it. She put up a huge fight with me over her class picture because she wants to be able to look at the little boy she has a crush on. She now has his picture along with the 19 other kids in her class.

This week also marked our very first parent-teacher conference. It went very well. I’m not sure what I was expecting but Olivia’s teacher didn’t have a whole lot to report. It was quite wonderful to sit there and to hear that my child was doing great in school. We breathed a sigh of relief.

At one point in the conference her teacher opened it up to ask us if there were any things behavior or otherwise we thought she should know about since Olivia started in her class. That was all we needed to let her know how hard the transition has been for us and for Olivia. We told her about Olivia being tired all the time and how she comes home starving. She is whining more than usual and frankly really turning on the “brat” at home. We have been trying hard as parents not to judge her, since this is all so new, and to just give her the space she may need to grow during this time.

But whether it was in preschool or now, in kindergarten, somehow our parent-teacher conferences always turn into us wanting parenting advice. My husband wanted to know what we could do to help stop her behavior. Her teacher replied with, “I don’t really give parenting advice”. As a mother of two boys herself, she has her hands full as it is.

I guess I have always held teachers in such high esteem. I feel like if they can handle 20 of them at one time then they should be able to help teach me a thing or too. Aren’t they gurus of sorts? I guess she’s not going to help me with tips on getting my girls to eat more vegetables. But I get it, to each his/her own and I really respected that she didn’t feel the need to tell us how to handle it. She’s been teaching long enough so I can assume that perhaps at one time maybe she did give advice and some parent more than likely got all annoyed and uppity at the suggestions. So no more freebees for desperate ones like us. She did say she would keep an eye on her at school and make sure she didn’t seem too tired or hungry there.

Up till now we had just been weathering the storm and hoping that Olivia adjusts. I haven’t always handled her behavior over the past few weeks in the best way. I’ve gotten mad, yelled back at her, and forced her to her room. However, the other day I didn’t do those things, I was patient, and acted happy in her presence even though she was crying and carrying on. I didn’t ignore her but I did tell her that I wasn’t going to stay with her while she was so unhappy. I told her that I was going to go upstairs to lie down for a rest.

She continued to scream and cry but I really felt that there was no need for me to stay there with her while she acted that way, so I removed myself from the situation and told her I was doing so. It wasn’t maybe 15 minutes later when Olivia, who had calmed herself down, came up to my room and apologized for her behavior. I was so shocked. So I didn’t need to yell, get angry, or respond to her tantrums to get her to see that what she was doing was inappropriate. Yes!

So “we aren’t in Kansas anymore” having entered a new world with the start of this school year; a world of parent-teacher conferences, tired children, tantrums, book bags, and homework. It hasn’t been easy and we have had some fallout; just today I feared I might lose a great babysitter of ours because Olivia acted so poorly. But we will get through it, I know we will, and until then we can add it to the long list of wonderful things to look forward to.