Today I attended Kindergarten Orientation for my youngest child.
We are zoned for a year-round school, so my kids start in July. They will have 2 weeks off in October, 3 at Christmas, and 2 for Spring Break. Their summer break is typically 6 weeks long.
I am not someone who gets terribly sentimental. The things I have saved, mementos from their childhoods, are haphazardly collected and chosen at random. I go through phases of frequent picture-taking, and then months without. Right now, I am not entirely sure where D’s teeth ended up after being repossessed by the tooth fairy.
I don’t want to be one of those mothers who gets all worked up over the start of kindergarten. I am so excited for her to finally be “a big kid.” I know that she will thrive – she is a fast learner, fairly confident in new situations, and terminally cheerful. She is funny and charming, kind and friendly. I assume the school is going to love her.
I am looking forward to her independence, as she has always been a bit of a cling-on. She tends to want help doing things that she can totally do on her own. She always asks to be carried or picked up. She still has the cry of an infant – that deep wail that brings mothers from all over running to her rescue. She is always touching me, near me, hanging on me.
I am so excited about the possibility of reclaiming my body from her.
My biggest fear is that the school will call me and say that she is not ready for kindergarten, and to try again next year. At 4, her birthday falls right on the cut-off date for enrollment, and since we are starting mid-summer she will be starting school as a 4 year-old. There is a trend right now of parents holding their kids out of kindergarten until they are 6, or close to 6. I have been on the fence about this with her all year long because of her slightly immature behavior, but in the end it seemed like she was ready to go. And I was ready for her to go, too.
Now I am imagining her days at school – days spent with kids bigger and older than she is, days spent in the care of other adults, days spent navigating the complex maze of public school – using the bathroom, raising her hand, walking to the cafeteria, library, playground. It is going to be such an adventure for her.
I am excited for her. And for me. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit scared for her, too. And maybe a little bit sad for me.
Kindergarten is a new beginning for kids, but for parents it is the beginning of the end of childhood.
I don’t know if I’m ready.