Parents struggle to understand their responsibilities for this school year My kid started first grade this year and I’m still trying to get the hang of it. I didn’t feel this way last year when she began kindergarten. First grade (and probably every grade) brings additional responsibilities.

Last year my kid had to simply bring a backpack to school and the only thing in it was her lunch and maybe a jacket or sweatshirt. On Fridays, there was a folder and it was always very clear what needed to be done with its contents. There wasn’t any homework.

This year, there are so many more things. There’s still the backpack and the lunch and the jacket. But now there is a tote bag. And in the tote bag there are the following:

A three-ring binder of poetry (Are we simply supposed to read it?)

A yellow folder that occasionally has a Weekly Reader type of thing in it (Do we read it? Do we leave it in there? Do we return it to school or keep it at home? Are the activities inside homework?)

Books from the library (It’s not media day, where do they come from? Do we read them and return them the next day or keep them a week?)

The Daily News. This, thank goodness, I know what to do with. It’s clear and simple and easy.

And the tote bag doesn’t fit easily into the backpack. So many things to carry.

I hear what you’re thinking: your kid is supposed to tell you these things. But she doesn’t know. Well, in some cases she knows but in others she doesn’t. I’ll ask, “What’s the book?” She says, “I got to choose it based on my reading level. I’m supposed to read it.” In my head: You’ve read it three times now, when do you get to choose another one?

But sometimes she doesn’t know. I’ll ask, “What are you supposed to do with this Weekly Reader thing? Just read it?” She says, “I guess so.” I say, “Are these activities on the last page homework?” She says, “I don’t know.” In my head: If we do the wrong thing your teacher is going to hate all of us.

My child is quite independent and so am I. Her dad and I are completely interested in being a part of her daily educational routine and we’re all three experiencing challenges with these transitions with more to do (and more to carry) each day. The expectations are more than reasonable and they’re easy to fit into our schedule. But the fact remains it’s something new to get used to. I’m worried we’ll forget and I overthink the consequences if we do. It’s impossible her teacher will think we’re deadbeat parents because we forget to sign the Daily News, but that’s where my brain goes. Every morning, us: Do you have your lunch? Do you have your tote bag? DID WE SIGN THE DAILY NEWS?!

It’s been clear since day one of being a parent that everything is a stage. And every stage brings new responsibilities and feelings. I should know this by now and still feel surprised when there is a new stage. And overwhelmed with new responsibilities. This is parenting, the excitement and the repeated newness of it. We’re all just in first grade together.