Kindergarten Has Ruined My Child

by Carly Baxter
Originally Published: 
A furious little girl screaming and pointing with her pen at something with a whiteboard behind her ...

School has turned my 4-year-old into an asshole. There, I said it.

Yes, school is a big change in a little person’s life, but I wasn’t too worried for my daughter. She is smart, kind, has an emotional intelligence beyond her years, likes to make new friends, and has been toilet-trained for almost two years. I thought she was golden. I thought I’d ship her off to school each morning, her younger brother and I would pass the time away doing baby and mommy things at home, and at the end of the day (or 3:30, which really isn’t the end of anyone’s day) we would happily reunite. She’d tell me all about the fun things she did, the friends she made and the praise her teachers gave her for being such a great kid. Ha!

Instead, when I pick her up from school and ask her what she did today, she tells me she can’t remember. You can’t remember? You spent six hours at school and can’t remember a single thing? Did you slip into a coma right after I dropped you off? Did Will Smith’s character from Men in Black show up and flash a bright light in your face to erase your memory? I thought school was supposed to make kids smarter.

When we get home from kindergarten is when the real fun begins. Somehow she is under the false impression that, now that she’s in school, she is real hot shit. She is the poster girl for cool. She struts around the house like she owns it. Whatever rules she once followed are no longer applicable to Her Majesty. “Oh, you asked me to clean up my toys? Screw you!” “Oh, you’d like me to eat my dinner? I’d rather die!” I feel like I need to knock my sassy 4-year-old down a peg, maybe remind her that she’s just a little kid who can’t count past 40 and doesn’t know how to read. Slow your roll playa, you still need help wiping your ass.

Speaking of that, this little girl of mine, who, as mentioned earlier, has been toilet-trained for nearly two years, has decided not to use the washroom the entire time she’s at school. By the time I pick her up, the whites of her eyes are yellow from holding it all day—curious behavior from someone who thinks saying “pee” and “poop” 50 times a day is worthy of a stand-up stint on The Tonight Show.

Her unsavory behavior has caused me to rethink punishments in our house. The three-minute time-outs just aren’t cutting it anymore. I’ve had to bring in the big guns, and hit her where it hurts. Yep, television. She loses her privileges when her bad behavior escalates. Of course, for anyone who is doing the morning routine with a young child and a baby, revoking television privileges is as much a punishment for the parent. A little Doc McStuffins goes a long way when you’re simultaneously trying to nurse a baby, make a school lunch and find clean clothes for three people.

So how can I stop my daughter from being a dick? I probably can’t. Not right away at least. I need to be patient and understand that she is just a little girl trying to find her way in the world. School is a whole new, overwhelming experience for her. She is learning so much: knowledge, social skills, a new routine and how to trust adults she has just met. So while I still may get frustrated and long for the days when it was just me and my sweet little 2-year-old girl playing, laughing and dancing the days away, I need to embrace the big girl she is becoming. She will find her way soon enough, and before I know it, she’ll be on to the next challenging phase, causing me to long for that silly 4-year-old who couldn’t remember what she did five minutes ago and liked to talk about poop all day.

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