All across the country, parents are preparing to send their kids back to school. And some, like me, are sending a child off to Kindergarten. For some, it’s a time to celebrate freedom. For others, it’s time to turn on the waterworks as they watch their babies grow up right in front of them.
This year, I’m sending my first off to Kindergarten. He did a year of preschool, so this isn’t new territory to us. But sending him off to public school has me in knots. I’m worried and relieved all at the same time.
Kindergarten means longer days away from me. I’m a control freak. I’ve loved having my babies under my thumb. I’ve loved knowing exactly what they’re doing and what they’re eating. I’ve had almost total control. They do, of course, have a very involved father with his own ideas, so I can’t have complete and total control over raising them. But, for five years, I was the one to structure his days, give him things to do and try, and foods to turn his nose up to. Now that he’ll be gone for six and a half hours five days a week…well, I’m having a hard time letting go of my control.
Kindergarten also means earlier starts to our days and nights. Preschool never started before 8:30am for him. We had relaxed mornings where he could sleep a little more if he’d had a bad night. We had plenty of time to figure out breakfast, and more than enough time to get in the car and head to school. But now he’ll be starting before 8am. He’ll have to get up earlier. Breakfast will be a little more rushed. I’m the kind of person where on time means late. Mornings will be riddled with anxiety for me, and I’m afraid my family will be getting the brunt of it. Nights will also be starting earlier. We’ve gotten used to bedtime between 8:30 and 9pm. Perhaps that’s late to many, but my kids have a bad habit of getting just enough sleep. If the sleep requirement was 12-14 hours, they never slept more than 12 hours. A late bedtime worked out well for us. It also meant they got plenty of play time with their dad at night. Now bedtime must be earlier so they can get up on time. Which means less play time with daddy. I may be glad for more time at night, but I’m going to miss my little pumpkins.
Kindergarten means uncertainty. As I mentioned, I’m a control freak. I had my son doing workbooks all summer. I had control over what he learned and what he practiced. Now a teacher I don’t even know yet will get that honor. I don’t know what that teacher will be teaching him and how. But, beyond learning, I worry about my strange little guy making friends. We can’t tell if he’ll be the teacher’s pet or the class clown. He thrives on being strange. While I hope he always retains that, I do hope he manages to make a friend or two. And let’s not even go into bullying right now. It’s happening at younger and younger ages. But I’ll be in tears if I ever learn my sweet little boy is a bully. I’m raising him to be better than that. I hope. And then there’s also the fear of school shootings. When I was a kid, it wasn’t even a thing. It didn’t happen. Now? It could happen anywhere, anytime. I’m scared.
But Kindergarten also means freedom. This kid will talk nonstop if it pleases him. Some days I feel like he’s about to talk my ears off. Half of the time he doesn’t even make sense. Words just fall out of his mouth and even he doesn’t know where it’s going. It’s funny, but so confusing. I’ll be glad for some peace. He’s a very demanding child, one not accustomed to not having my attention. I’ll be glad for some breathing space from him.
Kindergarten means more flexibility for me. Preschool was just a couple or so hours. It was often hard to plan things between drop off, pick up, and naps. There were so many days where I wanted to do something, but couldn’t. Now, with him being in school for six and a half hours, there’s more time to do things, like take my daughter to the zoo because animals are so not his thing.
Kindergarten has it’s pluses and minuses. I’m looking forward to it and dreading it in equal amounts. I’m torn. I’m going to miss my little boy so much. He keeps asking me if I’ll miss him. It’s going to be quiet and lonely without him. Then again, it’ll also be blessedly quiet.
Oh, wait. I still have a second child. And she’s noisy. Is it too early to start counting down to when she starts Kindergarten in 3 years?