Everyone knows the first day of kindergarten isn’t easy. So at Eliot Battle Elementary School on Monday, the PTA rolled out the doughnuts.
Not for the kids — for the parents.
As the new kindergarteners reported to class, the parents who weren’t quite ready to leave their kids were able to linger in a decompression chamber: the school library, where the Battle Elementary PTA hosted a “Boo Hoo/Yahoo” breakfast.
The “Yahoo” is for the parents enjoying the freedom that comes from the kids’ first day of school; the “Boo Hoo” is for those having trouble coping with the reality that their child is growing up.
At Battle, there was a lot more boo hoo than yahoo.
Halie Tiller, who said she sent a daughter off to college and a son to kindergarten this fall, was grateful for the Boo Hoo/Yahoo room, which allowed her to stay in the building near her son a little longer.
“He’s such a sweet, sweet kid, and I don’t want anyone to change that,” Tiller said. “I wanted to home-school him, but his dad won’t let me.”
She wasn’t the only one having trouble disengaging.
“I’m afraid she’s gonna drop her tray at lunch,” said Melanie Will, who lingered in the Boo Hoo/Yahoo room with her husband Gregory, of their daughter. “I know I have weird worries, but it’s such a big adjustment for her.”
The breakfast is designed to reassure parents and help calm their nerves, said Rosa Valdez Parks, treasurer of Battle Elementary PTA board and president of the Columbia Council PTA.
“You get the kindergarten parents coming in, they’re a little lost. They’re just kind of like, ‘My kids are going to school. What do I do?’” Parks said.
Battle Elementary has been holding these breakfasts for the last five years; last year’s was branded “Tears and Cheers.” Assistant Principal Carlei Wies said she believes that the breakfast has a greater purpose than just allowing the parents to deal with the emotions of the day.
“It’s a way for us to welcome parents into the school community as well,” Wies said.
Parents also get an opportunity to bond. Christy Saunders, a grandmother of a new kindergartener, said she enjoyed the opportunity to talk and connect with others who are experiencing the same joy, sadness and worry.
“I think it’s important to see someone else’s perspective,” Saunders said. “We may be a little tearful, you know, but this is helping them grow. This is one more step towards life.”
Despite the emotion of seeing her granddaughter grow up and go off to school, Saunders said she’s excited for her to start this new chapter of her life.
“It just signifies that growth,” Saunders said. “You want it, but then there’s that little bit of sadness. Because it’s a different routine, but change is always hard, but change is good.”