Friday, August 12, 2011

Ready or not...

5...4...3...2...1...ready or not here it comes. By it, I mean school, kindergarten to be exact. Yes, this year I am experiencing the world of the first day of school as my daughter J is heading to kindergarten.

I’ll admit I never thought I would be one of those Moms that got all worked up over starting kindergarten. Sure I knew I’d tear up, take a ton of pictures, and have flashbacks to the day J was born, but I never knew that I’d feel like this.

However, alas here I am the Friday before my daughter becomes a “school-aged kid” and I’m finding that this transition has been much harder on me than putting away the high chair, watching the last of the baby dresses get sold at garage sale, or packing up the crib.

I’m not sure why I’ve been so down about J starting school. After all, J has been “away” from me her whole life due to the fact I have to work. But somehow, dropping my daughter off at daycare is a whole different ball game than dropping her at school.

It doesn’t help that my daughter is the first in our family to start school. You mothers of girls will understand what I mean, it would be so much easier if H or L were going first. With boys, they get shy, grippy to their Moms, and maybe even nervous, but they don’t get “dramatic” about changes like this. They don’t sweat the small stuff. A girl? Well, that’s a whole different story. Each night when I tuck J to bed I am interrogated with countless questions like: “What if they don’t like me?”, “What if they don’t like my Hello Kitty backpack??”, “Mommy you bought me yellow pencils, what if everyone else has colors??”, “What if they make fun of me??”

With each question a piece of my heart flakes away and I get this pit in my stomach. Even though I know from experience how amazing school is and how much fun lies a head of her, I also know that starting school means the start of so much drama for J. So although I would love to tell J that all kids are good and no one will ever be mean to her, I know that’s just not true.

And suddenly I flash forward way past kindergarten to the bad parts of school…hurt feelings, broken hearts, mean teachers that should retire but won’t retire, awkward moments, pop quizzes you aren’t prepared for, first crushes that don’t know you exist, etc. etc. etc. I know these are funny things to think about when you kid is just starting kindergarten, but still the thoughts are there.

The truth of the matter is that starting school means starting reality. To date J only knows that good guys always win, a princess is always saved, and everyone lives happily ever after. Now, she’s about to hear “the other side of the story”.

I think what makes this extra hard on me is, unlike J, I am the baby of my family. I never had to do anything first. I could watch my brothers go through things before I had to do something. Before I started a school, everyone already knew me and I had been to the school dozens of times. I’m used to going last. So to me the idea of going first seems impossible. Nobody is giving her a preview of what’s in store for her. She has to blaze this trail for herself and ultimately for her brothers.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have full confidence in J’s abilities. I have no doubt in my mind that she is ready. I mean if anyone can blaze trails it’s J. She has walked to the beat of her own drum since before she could walk! She is incredibly social, smart, and adaptable. But, still there I am sitting at Unpack your Backpack and wondering why all the kids in J’s class seem so much bigger than her.

But ready or not, come Tuesday my daughter will be a kindergartner. And like it or not, I have to just sit back and watch it from “a far”. I can’t do it with her. I can’t tell all the kids in her class about her true nature and awesome personality, I can’t make friends for her, I can’t hold her hand.

So ready or not we go. It’s tough and unfortunately no one can really understand the feelings you feel except those who have been through it. You are going to find (well at least I am finding) that your feelings will be all over the place and won’t make sense: You’ll go from worrying about if they know how to get a lunch tray to being excited for them to learn to read, all in the same minute! So good luck out there. Yes, they’ll get through it, and we’ll get through it with some prayers, hope, love, and loads of Kleenex.


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