The Who’s been going to “school” since he was a year old. He started with just two short days a week and by the end of last year, was up to three very full ones. Seven and eight-hour days by the time he was 5. Kindergarten, by comparison, will be a cakewalk. Two and a half hours a day. It’ll barely register, I bet.
Yesterday I asked him, “What are your feelings about kindergarten?” And he said, “A tiiiiny, tiiiiiny bit worried and mostly really excited,” which I completely got. I felt the same way. Actually, I barely felt worried at all — mostly just really eager for him to start exploring the things he loves learning, getting to know his new teacher, making new friends, and having fun. Every single time I checked in with myself about it, this is how I felt. This is how I felt buying school supplies. This is how I felt at orientation. This is how I felt picking out new jeans and long-sleeved shirts for fall. Easy breezy lemon squeezy. Kindergarten. No big whoop.
Except, as it turns out, it is a big whoop. It starts tomorrow and all day today, I’ve been edgy and aggravated. Frustrated and a little bit blue. When m* asked me what was the matter, I snapped at her about all I have to do and all that’s on my mind to get ready for tomorrow (which is really not much, to be honest.) But then even when it was all done — the backpack packed, the supplies labeled, the clothes laid out — I didn’t feel any better. So, instead of finding myself some real food for dinner, I sat down with a carbonated drink and a package of Pop Tarts and all of a sudden, it hit me. As I sat there eating what was pretty much my steady diet for the first 5 weeks of his life, I realized that this — this kindergarten thing — is bigger than I thought.
This is my baby. This is my only baby. These two and a half hours a day are the start of his entire school career, which will last until he is a man. He is a boy now — a sweet, little, handsome, inventive, creative, funny, sassy, brilliant boy and when he is finished with public school, he will be a man. Tomorrow, he will run ahead of me on the sidewalk toward his new school and I will follow behind him, anxious about the routine, worried that I am bringing him to the incorrect door, wondering what it will feel like for him to be handed off into a classroom of new kids and new rules. This is not dropping my toddler off at the same day care in his class of 8 for the fourth year in a row.
We (mostly me, I think) agonized over where to send him to school. And although in the end, I believe we made a fine choice, I still feel a pang every time I am reminded about the standardized tests he will be subjected to, the common core curriculum that will be foisted upon him, the complete lack of art and music and outdoor play (at least in kindergarten.) I hope we made the right choice. I hope he is successful and nourished there. I hope no one picks on him and if they do, that he has the wherewithal to stand up for himself and to continue to feel confident in who he is. And, most of all, I hope that when I blink my eyes and find that my preschooler has become a high schooler, I have done him right.