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The First Eventful Month of Kindergarten


The First Eventful Month of KindergartenAbout a month ago, I wrote about the first day of kindergarten. Ahh… Was that just a month ago? It felt much longer than that because it was an eventful month. Before school started, I figured I’d have more time to do all the things I want. That’s true for the most part, but we had some glitches too. The RB40 family is not very good with change and we need a little extra time to adapt to new environments.

Super early school bus

The first big adjustment we had to make was catching the school bus on time. The elementary school starts at 8 am and the school bus stops by our place much earlier than that. That’s a big change from the preschool when we could leave at 8:40 am and still get to school on time.

Our local school district redid their boundaries recently and we are on a brand new route. The bus
pick-up time changed from 7:12 am to 6:58 am to 7:02 am as the school adjusted the schedule. It was all over the place, but I think they finally got it down after about a month. It is still very early and we miss the bus at least once per week. If everything goes as choreographed, then RB40Jr would just make the bus. But it seems we have lots of hiccups.

  • This Monday, I woke up 10 minutes late (6:30 am) and there was no chance we’d make the bus. I forgot to set the alarm in my room and Jr slept through his alarm.
  • On Wednesday, Jr had an unscheduled #2 and he missed the bus.
  • Last week, he dilly-dallyed putting on his shoes and we missed the bus by just a few seconds.
  • Etc…

Actually, dropping him off at school isn’t a bad option. We could leave at 7:45 am and he’d get to class before the tardy bell. It’s a lot easier on him, but it delays the start of my day by a little over an hour. The school bus is very convenient for me. I just wish it didn’t take so long to get to school. I think it should be easier to wake up when the clock rolls back an hour. We’ll see how it goes.

Hitting incidents

Okay, now to the more serious problem. If you have been following us for a while, you’d remember that RB40Jr tends to overreact to little incidents. At the beginning of last school year, he hit some kids in his class and it took almost 3 months for him to stop doing it. Hitting usually follows arguments over toys, accidental bumping, other kids cutting in line, or someone snatching something from him. He eventually stopped hitting other kids and we thought that was it.

However, the move to kindergarten was a HUGE change and he regressed. He hit a bunch of kids over the first three weeks and was sent to the principal’s office twice. The last time was because he hit his new kindergarten teacher. *GASP* She pulled him out of line when he bumped another kid who then fell down. She has been a kindergarten teacher for 6 years and this was first time a kid hit her. The teacher was shocked and sent him straight to the front office.

I’ve been picking him up once a week so I could talk with her and I got the full scoop. She showed me how he put his two little fists together and smashed her thigh. “Luckily, he only hit my leg because it was right around here”, waving her arms around her nether region. I chuckled a bit and didn’t mention that RB40Jr hit the target last year with his former teacher…

I reassured her that this will pass and hoped for the best. He’s a year older; surely he will get over hitting other kids faster than 3 months. Public schools have zero tolerance for hitting and he will be in big trouble if he keeps this up. Luckily, he seemed to have learned his lesson because hasn’t hit anyone for over two weeks now. I think a big part of this is making friends and getting to know his classmates.

It’s tough to adjust to a new environment. This school has over 100 kindergarteners and they are all on the playground at the same time. RB40Jr doesn’t like crowds or loud noises so it’s understandable that he is having a tough time with the change. There is a lot of bumping and cutting in line at the playground and he doesn’t like it when he sees that rules aren’t being followed exactly. We keep telling him that he doesn’t have to be the police. He finally learned to ignore little injustices so we really hope the hitting incidents are over with. It’s no fun getting sent to the principal’s office or getting a call from the principal.

Call from the School Nurse

Just as we thought everything was getting better, we got a call from the school nurse. RB40Jr has been coughing and with a stuffy nose for a couple of weeks. Yesterday, the nurse dropped by the kindergarten classes and she pulled him out of the classroom. It turned out that there is a whooping cough (pertussis) outbreak in Portland and they are not taking any chances. Jr’s vaccination is current, but they still want the doctor to check him out. He can’t come back to school until he brings a doctor’s note to clear him. Wow, that’s a tough policy, but I guess they have to do that to prevent an epidemic.

Anyway, I went to pick him up and he was very sad to go home early. We scrambled and got a doctor appointment on the same day. Thanks to Mrs. RB40 who cajoled the doctor’s office into opening up a slot for him. If we couldn’t get an appointment on that same day, he would have had to miss another day or two of school. Anyway, the doctor cleared him and he’s back in school. I knew it wasn’t whooping cough…

No extracurricular activities for now

As you can see, it has been an exciting month at the RB40 household. We just aren’t very good at adjusting to new situations. We need to take it slow and ease into a new environment. The school has a ton of options for extracurricular activities, but I’m holding off on everything for now. Once Jr has adjusted to kindergarten life, we’ll see what activities he’d like to sign up for. Right now, he’s perfectly happy to play with his Legos when he gets home. I’m also enjoying the $0 “kid” line item in our monthly cash flow.

As for me, I’m slowly adapting to the new routine as well. If things go well, then Jr would be on the bus by 7 am. That gives me time to have a little breakfast and then catch up on emails and the blog for a bit. I’ll head to the gym at 8:30 am and usually get back before 10 am. Then, it’s time for some chores and writing. I’d take lunch break around noon and relax for a few minutes. After lunch is flex time. I could read, work online, go to the post office, go grocery shopping, or take a short nap if I’m really tired. Although, that didn’t quite work out today. I fell asleep on the couch and woke up 2 minutes after Jr’s school bus drop off. Since I wasn’t at the stop to meet him, he had to ride the bus all the way back to school. I had to go pick him up and he was pretty mad at me. I guess no more napping.

All in all, life is slowing down a bit and it’s nice. I don’t have to stay up really late to work on Retire by 40 as often now. I like the relaxed pace. Next quarter, I’ll take on more projects like redesigning the site and tackling Pinterest, but I’m taking it easy for now and enjoying the break.

*Update* – Okay, you’ve convinced me. I’m setting our alarm clock to 7 am. If we wake up early and make the bus, then it’s a bonus. Otherwise, I’ll drive him to school. 🙂

Alright, how did your first month of school go? I hope it wasn’t as exciting as ours.

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, he hated the corporate BS. He left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. At Retire by 40, Joe focuses on financial independence, early retirement, investing, saving, and passive income.

For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.

Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.

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{ 53 comments… add one }
  • Michael @ Financially Alert October 7, 2016, 1:06 am

    Wow, 100 kindergarteners. That’s a lot! It’s surprising that your boy is so physical. You and your wife sound so mellow. 🙂 Hopefully, it’ll pass like you said. If not, perhaps a martial art could help channel some of the extra energy?

    My daughter just started her preschool Fall class. She likes it but is itching to go to kindergarten. She’s much better at playing with kids now but doesn’t go out of her way to make new friends. I’m hoping she’ll learn how to do that on her own soon.

    Enjoy your break, Joe! Let’s compare Pinterest notes later this year.

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:42 am

      Yeah, that is way too many kids to be on a little playground. I just talked to a parent this morning and she said there was only 17 kids in class 2 years ago. The children population is exploding here. I want to put him in martial art too, but we’ll wait a few months. He doesn’t want to start anything new right now.
      Preschool is great. They learn how to interact with other kids very quickly.

  • Physician on FIRE October 7, 2016, 1:37 am

    Wow! You’ve got your hands full. Happy to hear behavior is headed in the right direction.

    Might he benefit from an extra 45 minutes of sleep? The bus might not be the best solution. Good place to pick up new and colorful language, though.


    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:44 am

      More sleep would probably be better. It’s tough getting him up at 6:25. We missed the bus again today…

  • Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes October 7, 2016, 2:42 am

    Sounds like everything is going *mostly* well Joe. Eventually these little incidents should clear up as everyone falls into the new routine.

    Getting going in the morning is our big household challenge. The faster you need the kids to move, the slower they seem to go!

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:45 am

      It’s work in progress. At least, we are improving. 🙂

  • Buckeye Nut October 7, 2016, 4:09 am

    I enjoyed your blog. Last year when my son started Kindergarten I had the priviledge of talking to the principal on the 2nd day of school over his physical mis-deeds on the bus. This shall pass, and one day you will laugh about it.

    I got a good laugh over missing the bus at the end of the day. That is my nightmare – a couple of times I have missed my alarm to remind me to go to the bus stop and run out the door to see the bus waiting for me. And I have been admonished by my son for having the bus wait – I can only imagine if the bus took him back to school the drama.

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:47 am

      Heh heh, I’m already laughing about it. I knew from preschool that he might have a tough time for a while and I know it will improve. I didn’t get mad at him for hitting other kids this year and we worked through it calmly. He was pretty mad at me yesterday. We stayed and played at school for a while so that worked out.

  • The Green Swan October 7, 2016, 4:23 am

    Wow, that is an early bus in the morning! I had to chuckle about the unscheduled #2…soon he’ll learn to get those scheduled on the calendar early :)! Gotta love that though, it is always something that makes getting out the door tough.

    Well I hope you continue to enjoy your break and hopefully school keeps getting better for Jr.

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:48 am

      Yes… We had another unscheduled #2 again today. I want to work that into the morning routine, but he usually doesn’t have to go…

  • Dividends Down Under October 7, 2016, 4:24 am

    Everyone has gone through growing pains in one way or another, I hope for him it’s just a phase and you’ll get a calm one soon 🙂

    I can completely relate to the bus being a problem. I would cause us to miss my bus at least once a week, but we’d catch the bus by the next stop so it wasn’t such a big deal then.


    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:49 am

      He’s better now. It’s just tough in a new environment. Now he knows other kids’ names and their personalities. He’s adapting.

  • beth October 7, 2016, 4:33 am

    Are you still going to take him out of school for your trip. Three weeks out of the new routine could be tough on him.

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:51 am

      Yes, we already booked the trip. It will be tough, but we have some legal stuff to take care of in Thailand. We’ll just have deal with it. At least, November is a slow month. He’ll miss just 10 days of school in 3 weeks.

  • Pennypincher October 7, 2016, 5:05 am

    That is one long day for a kindergartner, indeed! Such a challenge to get them out the door. Trust me, it takes a very long time for them to “get it”, that they cannot sit still, that they must keep moving in the morning, to get out the door. Keep it all positive! Structure is key, do everything the same way, @ the same time each morning. Lunch, backpack is always by the back door the night before to grab on the way out. In the bathroom, start w/hair, face, teeth, nails=done.
    Joe, get yourself a small timer to use when you nap. Hope this helps! All will fall into place.

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:51 am

      Thanks… I’m optimistic. 🙂

  • Money Beagle October 7, 2016, 6:14 am

    That’s super early for the bus. Wow. Our daughter started this year and her biggest thing is that every day she comes home with something missing. A library book, a jacket, a snack cup lid, something. Usually stuff gets located, but it’s always the adventure to see what doesn’t come home that day.

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:53 am

      Yes, that’s way too early. Maybe I should just drive him… We haven’t had a lot of problem with missing items. Just the water bottle once in a while.

  • Ms October 7, 2016, 6:25 am

    Oh boy, I can relate. We had 4 kids go back to school (1 for the first time to preschool.) It’s always a big adjustment for us. We had traveled for 6 weeks with the 5 kids this summer. Summer is such a fun and laid back time. Then the schedules start. We drop all 4 off at 2 different schools each morning, and then do 2 pick ups in the afternoon. We don’t do activities at this age. We tried for a while, but it just felt like our whole life was driving and trying to be on time for things. Plus we really want to go out on little adventures on the weekend, not T ball games. =) When they all hit high school, we will have to hunker down and travel less. I’m sure between the 5 of them, 1 or 2 will always have something going on!

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:55 am

      Alright! Thanks for sharing that you don’t do activities at this age. It seems like every kid already have a full schedule. Music, art, soccer, martial art, language, etc… It’s crazy. We’ll probably sign up for one activity next quarter. I don’t want to overload his schedule. Sounds like a lot of work with 4 kids. Pretty soon it will be 3 schools, right?

  • adumbby October 7, 2016, 6:31 am

    why not just drive him to school and drop off? aren’t you close to the school?

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:56 am

      We’re only a mile from school as the crow fly, but it takes almost 15 minutes to get to class. Traffic, windy road, and parking. It just delay my day for almost 90 minutes if I go drop him off. I guess it’s better for him. I’ll think about it.

      • Pam October 7, 2016, 8:25 pm

        A mile isn’t so far if you can walk. Is walking an option to leave around 8:30 and be at school by 9 am? Walking also contributes to your fitness goal and you both get more sleep and quality time together.

        • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:45 pm

          It’s one mile by the crow fly, but closer to 2 miles by driving. It’s up a big hill so walking is not an option, unfortunately.

  • Brian - Rental Mindset October 7, 2016, 7:34 am

    That makes sense they keep the kid on the bus unless the parent is there. You owe Jr ice cream after that!

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:57 am

      You’re right. I owe him one. We’ll do something fun this weekend. 🙂

  • ChrisCD October 7, 2016, 7:40 am

    I would make a similar comment as the others. Seems like taking him to school and picking him up would be a much better option and help everyone. You both would get a bit more sleep and I think you schedule allows for quite a bit of flexibility, too. If you do need more time to get things done, consider a quiet time when he gets home from school.

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:58 am

      There is no such thing as quite time when he’s around. He’s just too active and I don’t want to constrain him to quiet time. We’ll consider driving him to school regularly.

  • Lisa October 7, 2016, 8:10 am

    Hi there,
    Although the bus stops nearly in front of our house, we figured out long ago that driving the kids to school in the morning ourselves is a way better start to their day. The bus can be a pretty rowdy, crazy environment first thing in the morning and wow, especially that early! Avoiding that chaos in the morning, with a nice drive, nice music, etc. might even help with the other challenges during the day. However, I wouldn’t recommend picking up at the end of school (to save yourself the frustration of dealing with the traffic, fear of being late, etc).

    Someone else also mentioned martial arts as a suggestion. Our son was having similar challenges in 1st grade and we put him in martial arts (moo duk kwan…which is a Korean martial arts…Oregon Moo Duk Kwan to be exact, in LO) and the problems went away in a very short period. Now he’s in 8th grade and he’s a Dan member and assisting in teaching classes!

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:59 am

      Okay, thanks for the input. I’ll think about it. He likes me driving him to school anyway. I want to put him in martial art too, but probably next quarter. We don’t want to add anything new at this point.

  • Fiscally Free October 7, 2016, 8:12 am

    Your school bus situation sounds really annoying. We are lucky that our kids will be able to walk to elementary, middle, and high school from our house, so we won’t ever have to deal with a bus.

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 9:00 am

      That is awesome! Unfortunately, all our schools are too far away.

  • Ten Factorial Rocks October 7, 2016, 8:18 am

    Reminds me of what I went through 7 years back. It gets better, especially in the #2 department, along with sleeping through the night. I remember how I felt when I got 8 hours of sleep at night after more than 3 years of disturbed sleep after my child was born – that day, my coworkers and Boss thought I took a 6-pack of Red Bull before coming to work! I felt alert that I hadn’t felt in a long time. Now we have the opposite problem, Junior would sleep 10 hours straight if we allow him to. ?

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 9:02 am

      RB40Jr sleeps through the night pretty well now. I think kindergarten helped a lot with that. He does get 10 hours of sleep every night. I think that’s about right for his age.

  • James October 7, 2016, 9:34 am

    I feel for you. It’s tough being a parent when kids misbehave despite one’s best efforts to teach them otherwise. Do any of the other kids ever hit back when your kid hits them?

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 11:23 am

      Yes, other kids hit too. Some of them hit first, some of them response, etc… It’s a zoo! I think all the kids are calming down now because they know each other better.

  • Sharon October 7, 2016, 12:07 pm

    Since he’s an only child, it might help him to start getting involved in a team sport, like soccer. It will help him learn social and team skills. At your house, he’s the alpha. With a team, he can learn more about helping others achieve a group goal and to celebrate the accomplishment together.

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:40 pm

      We’ll put him in team sports very soon. Probably next quarter. I guess it will be basketball for the winter.

  • Laura October 7, 2016, 12:51 pm

    The school year transition is always rough. And my little guy (well, teenager now) had various visits to the principal as well. If you want some unsolicited advice on things to watch for, you can email me 😉

    Thought our K class totals of about 70 (3 rooms) were huge a few years ago (also PPS), but guess not!

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:41 pm

      We have almost 110 in 4 rooms. That’s pretty crazy. We need more schools here in PPS, but I guess it won’t happen anytime soon.

  • RocDoc October 7, 2016, 1:18 pm

    I’m enjoying reading about RB40 Jr’s school days. He reminds me so much of my younger brother when he first started kindergarten and then grade 1. My brother was the only boy in the family and he was a little rough around the edges those first couple years of school as well, but he turned out great as he matured and I’m sure RB40 Jr will too!

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:42 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂 I’m sure he’ll be fine too. He’s a lot better now that he made some friends.

  • Mustard Seed Money October 7, 2016, 6:06 pm

    I can’t believe they make kindergartners wake up so early in the morning. I remember going to the bus stop at 8:15 with a start time at school of 9:00 when I was a little kid and I thought that was early.

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:43 pm

      Yeah, that’s nuts. I’ll change our alarm clock to 7 am. We all need more sleep.

  • PatientWealthBuilder October 7, 2016, 6:36 pm

    Kindergarten is for very intense GERMANS! Just Kidding. Adjusting to school is very difficult for young people. Think about as an adult all the emotions you have when going into a new situation or a large room full of people you don’t know. Children don’t know how to process all that. This is where discipline is necessary. Children need immediate discipline when they hit, bite, or are otherwise violent. This is a gift to society. If you do this, he will certainly grow out of it. But don’t over react – little boys are pretty wild and crazy. I have 4 of them.

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2016, 8:44 pm

      He’s a lot better now. The first few weeks were tough on everyone.

      • PatientWealthBuilder October 8, 2016, 9:33 am

        great to hear! kids go through phases and it is so hard for them to react positively when they are stressed in a new environment. I am sure he’ll do great with such supportive and wise parents. We have had periods over several months of intense difficulty with various of our kids. Patience and gentleness wins!

  • [email protected] Smarter Decisions October 9, 2016, 2:06 pm

    Hi Joe,
    Just getting to this post because I was so busy at school (talking to parents about their kids hitting of all things!!) I’m an Elementary School principal and we have around 260 Kindergarten kids! We average about 1700 across grades K-5 (between 11-14 classes at each grade level). That’s definitely a long bus ride for Jr. I’d drive him too (and I see you changed your plan at the end of the post). We work hard with kids on “hands to self” (rather than “no hitting”) – you always want to emphasize what you want them to do. And with little “rule followers” – we always remind them to control their own bodies, and that it isn’t their job to control others (and to let an adult know if it is a “big problem”). Not sure if those words will help 🙂 I love that you are not rushing him in to activities. If he is content with lego’s – he’s telling you that he needs that quieter, creative time too.

    • retirebyforty October 10, 2016, 12:11 am

      Thank you for your comment! Wow, your school is big. Good luck with the kids. I’m sure you have been through it all before. Yes, we’ll see how it goes next week. If he wakes up early, then we’ll try to catch the bus. Otherwise, I’ll drive him. We use “keep your hands to yourself” too.

  • Wilson October 11, 2016, 8:52 am

    My daughter just started at a kindergarten with exactly 100 spots. Our first has been that apparently she’s a big talker, which is surprising because she’s a bit shy and introverted. So we’ve had to have the not talk over the teachers, be respectful and pay attention conversation. Otherwise things have been great, other than boys running wild in the tiny playground during soccer.

    • Wilson October 11, 2016, 8:53 am

      * first issue

    • retirebyforty October 12, 2016, 12:51 pm

      Boys are crazy. RB40Jr came home with 2 marks on his forehead yesterday. The boys were throwing those spiky seed pods at each other. Nobody got in trouble with the teachers so that’s good. I think being a talker is great. She can join the debate team later. 🙂

  • Mrs. BITA October 17, 2016, 8:57 pm

    Wow, that was an exciting start to kindergarten. Toddler BITA is now two and a half and if I’ve learned one thing about parenthood it is “this too shall pass”. She was bitten a couple of times at her daycare, and then decided to experiment with biting herself, so that was an exciting time for us (especially since she was under two at the time and we had limited communication options). All we can do is take deep breaths and promise ourselves that we shall forget none of this and trot out every single one of these embarrassing stories at an appropriate time (wedding toast maybe?).

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