Summer Sunday: Off to Kindergarten

Summer Sunday: Off to Kindergarten




The end of summer always feels too abrupt. I’m never ready for the transition to cooler temperatures and shorter, busier days, but this time it’s going to be an even bigger adjustment: my oldest child will be starting kindergarten.

I’m not sure she’s ready. I’m not sure I’m ready. The most obvious challenge is going to be getting there on time. We’ve had to make it on time to other things—preschool, doctor’s appointments, plane departures—but nothing like the relentless and very early hour of school mornings. And that’s precisely what changes at this age, and why it’s such a milestone and a break-out-the-kleenex moment in parenting. Your child is about to emerge from the protective bubble of home and into the real world of tardy slips, schedules and rules.

I guess that’s why I feel such a sense of foreboding every fall. It’s a leftover emotional response from my childhood, the feeling I had every time the school year began. It marks the end of whimsy and the beginning of real structure. The end of carefree days and the beginning of homework, cliques, and grades. It is a new chapter in her life, and even though she has no idea yet of what it really means, she is about to be imprisoned for thirteen years by a schedule that is not of her own making. She is about to be challenged by things that she never imagined. Ugh, I think. She’s going to have to do MATH.

I know, rules and structure and schedules are all important lessons. And so is math. But I can’t help it. I’m already longing for the time when I was her whole world. When home was her only home base. When we could linger over pancakes and talk about life, when I could answer all of her questions, talk her through tantrums and comfort her worries, and take all the extra time she needed to navigate her day. I’m already in mourning of these innocent years, this precious time we had together in the world.

She is about to enter a threshold and her life will change. And so will mine. This week I will revel in the days before alarm clocks and school bells and stress, and enjoy seven more days of my baby girl. Because next Monday, ready or not, she will be a kindergartener. And when she enters that classroom with her markers and her glue sticks and her colored pencils, she will also be carrying a huge part of my heart with her.

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