Tonight I’ll walk into AJR’s future school and attend a meeting to discuss all things related to registering for kindergarten. Mic drop. Of the heart.
First off, what sort of sick person decided that we need to register for kindergarten a solid nine months before they will even set foot inside the door? Do they relish taking an emotional knife and twisting it deep into the gaping wound of my heart until I beg for mercy? Listen, I’m all for preparedness and planning but this seems a bit aggressive. Let me live in denial for a little bit longer, please, I beg you.
Kindergarten has been on my mind for oh, the last three years maybe? Not always in the forefront, but definitely a lingering thought tucked away in the part of my brain that I put all icky and awful things until they bubble up in an unhealthy way. My husband can’t quite understand the emotional reaction I’m having to the whole idea of kindergarten as the kid has been in “school” since he was three months old. On top of that, up until the age of two he was in daycare full-time while I worked. So how can kindergarten be such a big departure from what we’ve done in the past?
But it is. It just is. I don’t expect Joe to get it. He’s used to working 10-12 hours day and stealing moments before bed or sneaking in a little QT before the morning rush. Truly working for the weekend when they finally have quality time to squeeze in all the things that fathers and sons do. Not me. I am not used to a whole life being lived without me standing there to watch over it and intervene if need be. I’m not used to being unable to witness social interactions and know whether something happens that we’ll have to discuss later when we’re curled up in bed so I can reassure him or talk through ways that may have been more appropriate to act. In a way, this year has been a small taste of what’s to come. However, preschool is like riding a bike with the training wheels on. Yes, you’re riding a bike but are you really riding a bike? The stakes are considerably lower if not nonexistent in pre-k. Does he even have to go? Sure it’s great if he does but it’s not going to be a huge detriment to his development – so it’s okay to miss the occasional day or go in late if we’re feeling a little sluggish in the morning. With kindergarten, you have to go. It’s all in. There’s no turning back and the stakes start to get progressively higher year after year. Academically and socially. Little kids little problems ; big kids, big problems. That thought alone terrifies me.
Mostly the reason I’m dreading kindergarten is that I am lamenting the growth of my not-so-little boy. I’m in this near-constant state of awe of watching his boy-ness unfold while simultaneously feeling as if my heart is being slowly pulled out of my body while I watch. This is has been hitting him more so lately. In those sleepy moments right before bed and early in the morning, I hold him in my arms and rock him back and forth trying to soak up as many remnants of little boy as possible. I kiss his head and ruffle his hair that’s already lost its baby-fine texture. I leap at any requests to sit on my lap, prepping myself for the day when he’ll prefer to hang out with his buddies as opposed to me. I actually that day might already be here but I’m deluding myself, and giving out donut bribes, to ensure that’s not the entirely the case.
Kindergarten means I’ll have to let him go even more than I already have. It means that I’ll have to accept that the bulk of his day will be spent with teachers, administrators, and peers that are now going to play an integral role in shaping the person he’ll become. It means that I won’t be there to give hugs when they’re needed, encourage at the low points, and show him right from wrong. It means mounting pressure, real demands on certain skill sets, and a new social playing field that escalates quickly. It feels like the beginning of the end. Or the beginning of the great divide – the divide between his life, independent from me, and our life as mother-son.
And now this dang meeting means that all of these thoughts are brought to the forefront of my mind in JANUARY. I already anticipated a weepy summer spent wistfully gazing at him while also going out of my mind because I’ll be back on duty 24/7 with no break of school in sight.
He is ready. So ready. Especially since he has a whole crew of friends he’s known before he was potty trained to brave this new adventure alongside him. As for me, I am decidedly not ready. For all the above reasons and then some. Good thing I have the next nine months to prepare.