Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First Day of Kindergarten and Ambivalence

First of all, I can't believe I have FOUR kids who have passed the kindergarten milestone!  I don't feel that old!  My friend next door put her LAST child on the bus yesterday!  She's home all alone!


I don't have any desire to be home alone.  I'd be lonely and I'd waste time.  I'm glad to have Daisy, Pepper and Sunshine here with me.


I was surprised by how sad I was to send Banana Boy.  I know we're doing the right thing for this child, this year.  He ran off with hardly a backward glance and loved his first day.  He already has a crush on his teacher!


But it feels so strange to hear him come home sharing rules he's already internalized that I didn't teach him (why can't he internalize MY rules?) and beaming about the pattern he made (orange, yellow, blue, orange, yellow, blue, orange (stopping there because that's all the spaces there were)) and the picture he drew of he and his teacher living in a castle.


He drank milk at snack time.  He made four hoops at recess.  He met a new friend in his class and found a couple of old ones.  He surmised that it's probably illegal to go to the bathroom in the weeds on the playground (although they didn't specifically say not to!)  He unpacked all the things I told him to from his backpack and delivered them where they needed to go.


I'm so proud of him and happy for the independence and success he's experiencing.  For this child, an institutional, structured setting is perfect for him at this time.  I'm glad we have the opportunity to homeschool the ones who need it and send to public school the ones for whom that fits.


But I'm finding it feels very different to send a little person to kindergarten than it did to send him to preschool.


And I'm finding it feels very different to send my 12 year old responsible, can-handle-things-on-her-own off to middle school where I know she can rebut the ideas that don't gel with our family morals than it does to send my innocent, impressionable 5 yo away to kindergarten.  (He said the bus was scary because the other kids were saying mean words (!!).)


I'm excited for both of them and it feels fun to "play school."  But the heartbeat of time it took for my boy to step onto the bus and be whisked away was all too short for me yesterday.  I was expecting the moment to last longer, the transition between baby and big boy.  And it happened in a blink of an eye.


He and I will still be working on math and Bible and AWANA and reading at home in the afternoons.  He'll be doing lots of playing, too.  Our days will be smoother for spending a little less time together.


But this morning he didn't want to wake up.  He's not a morning person.  Of course, his fighting bedtime last night (a nightly ritual) didn't help.  He climbed into bed with me to snuggle under the warm covers this morning and I wanted to just hold him there and keep him home where he could sleep longer and take his usual sweet time beginning his day.  Instead, I had to finally get him up and fed and dressed and ready and walk him, shivering, down to the bus.


I'm an ambivalent Kindergarten Mama.  I love it and I hate it.  I want him and I need him there.  I want him and I need him home.  I'm proud of him and I'm afraid for him.  I love to see the excitement in his eyes when he comes home to tell me about his day.  I miss seeing the excitement in his eyes when he is learning something new at home.  I feel proud for sending him.  I feel guilty for sending him.


I'm glad I only have to do this once!



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