I know most parents are probably counting down the days until school starts, me not so much.
Usually I am the first person to raise my hand at the offer for someone to take my kids off my hands for any period of time, even if it means I can go grocery shopping in peace. However, when I think about the impending school year I get a little anxious, worried and sad.
I’m not looking forward to leaving the lazy days of summer behind and gearing up for the morning rush that is required to get one kid on the bus and drive another to preschool. Then there is the looming realization that my daughter starts Kindergarten in the fall. I never really understood why moms got weepy over this milestone in their child’s life. Even up until a few weeks ago, I was still in denial about how this would affect me. I remember very vividly the day I went back to work when Maddie was a baby and my friend and co-worker had a daughter starting Kindergarten the same day. I’m not sure who was more beside herself: me leaving my three-month old at daycare or her putting her five-year old on the bus? I tried to imagine what she was going through and it just didn’t translate for me.
I remember the angst I felt leaving her each day and would be fine unless I looked through the glass window into the classroom before I left. At that point, her separation anxiety hadn’t kicked in, so it wasn’t like she was screaming and crying because I left her. It was more because there she was doing just fine without me. I know, I know--this is ludicrous especially after the eventual battle I had with her crying so hard she’d throw up each time I left the room from the time she was 15 months until about three-years old.
It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when fellow mom explained the sight of seeing your child on the first day of Kindergarten on the bus with their little face looking out the window at you as the bus drove away. That’s when it really hit me; this is going to be like dropping her off at daycare all over again. I’m not sure what will make me cry more when I see her little face in that bus window--a look of fear and despair or utter joy that she’s a “big kid” on the bus going to Kindergarten without me.
Then the fear of the unknown sets in. What if the kids pick on her on the bus? What if she has a hard time fitting in? What if she is too shy to ask to go to the bathroom? What if she doesn’t eat her lunch? What if kids are mean to her? What if she is mean to other kids? What if she sasses the teacher back when she tries to help her write her name like she does to me? What if she gets in trouble? What if homework frustrates her? What if she’s bad at math like me? What if they mispronounce our last name like so many people do and she is too shy to correct them and ends up Madeline Stein for her entire school career!
And when I put it all into perspective, I know she’s going to be just fine. She is a rule follower and would rather die than be in trouble. She’s also a social butterfly who often seeks out friends at the park and introduces herself, “Hi, my name is Madelyn. Do you want to be my friend?” I also know that her neighborhood friends, especially her boyfriends who live on either side of us would never in a million years let anything happen to her on the bus. She is already doing homework in her Kindergarten workbook and loves to learn new things. I am pretty sure the only person who will get frustrated by homework will be me. I know her teachers are paid professionals who know how to shape young minds. And as for lunch, she will only go to half-day Kindergarten and will have lunch at home. The teachers in preschool eventually figured out her name, so I’m fairly confident we can nip that in the bud as well.
In the end, I have to remember that my first-born is naturally in-love with the idea of school and will likely excel in every way. She has already told me that her top three things that she is looking forward to at school are The Library, Art Class and the Lunchroom. However, talk to me in two years when my son starts Kindergarten. I’ll likely be praying for full-day Kindergarten and hopeful that he won’t be the bully on the bus rather than being bullied.