In roughly five weeks school will start; the little ones will make their way to the end of the driveway that first morning, their tiny little bodies supporting a book bag loaded down with an abundance of school supplies, a tiny troop of turtles headed towards the ocean to be set free. For some of us mothers it’s a day of celebration, we get our houses back, the grocery bill will not be so astronomically high and we will not have to hear “I’m bored” being uttered every five minutes – which was a common occurrence by the time the end of August rolled around; however, there is another set of us to be contended with on this day, the ones that are letting go for the first time.
I am one of these mothers. I will be letting Ben go off into the unknown world of elementary school on Sept.7, and this is a terrifying yet exhilarating thought. My emotions (as typical for me) go back and forth on the subject of starting school and have been this way since he was born; it really is a lifelong process that you build upon until the day actually gets here. From the time he was born I was always the more laid-back parent when it came to discussing elementary school. My mother is a public school administrator and I grew up in the public school system. It was a way of life that I was comfortable with. However, the closer we got to kindergarten the more neurotic I became.
You see I don’t worry about socialization or academics with the boy, as he has spent two years in a half-day preschool and makes friends rather easily; and of course we all know I think he’s brilliant. I worry about things like him having to keep his shoes on all day and if his school keeps the doors locked at all times. Will they like my child? I have also had to learn that, you know, not everyone will think my child is exceptional, wonderful, or the most amazing person they have ever met. This growing up thing isn’t just for the child at this stage – I think my husband and I are growing up as parents as well. There are some things that you just have to let go of, and right now that includes giving my child some room to go and be his own little person.
That is one of the hardest parts of all of this; they leave you and have a little life of their own. You are so used to the toddler depending solely on you for every little thing and now you have this kindergartner who doesn’t need you for that much. I feel like we will be lucky to get a smidgen of information about what he does during the day, but you know what, that will be okay because he is growing up. I have seen it already this summer. I wanted to prepare him (and myself really) for kindergarten in some way, so instead of letting him stay with his Meme all summer we enrolled him in the Goddard School for summer camp. Most of his new friends at Goddard will be attending Elizabeth Scott as well, so he will have plenty of familiar faces on his first day of school. We wanted to have as smooth of a transition as possible. I on the other hand also needed this transition and realized, happily, after his first week at Goddard that not only did he survive all day with his shoes on but that he actually enjoyed himself.
There is really no anxiety-proof way to prepare yourself for kindergarten unless you’re one of those ultra-cool moms (and for those of you who are, more power to you, and could you please send some of what you have my way?) I just know that I love my boy and want him to have the best teacher, a wonderful year and to be comfortable wearing shoes all day (I know I’m stuck on, it I don’t know why). We are getting prepared, we have our backpack, lunch box and our growing list of school supplies – waiting for the tax-free weekend – and I have my arms wrapped tight around my boy, squeezing him every day, all while holding on to my sweet preschooler because I know in just a few short weeks I will have to let go and he will be off on his grand adventure into the world of elementary school.