I have always loved school.
On my first day of first grade, I woke myself up in the middle of the night, got myself dressed, grabbed my backpack and sat at the kitchen table, where I greeted my startled mother when she awoke hours later. I loved my teachers (except my third grade teacher who still gives me nightmares) and I loved my friends. I loved the smell of hamburger buns and old spaghetti sauce in the cafeteria. I loved getting books at the beginning of the school year and writing my name and the year on the front panel. I loved buying new clothes and supplies. I loved school so much that I became a teacher .
On my first day of school as a preschool teacher, I was excited to greet my new students. I had written each of their names on a laminated paper fish, which I had taped to their tiny lockers. I had a mat on the floor that was divided into four quadrants, which indicated how the student wanted to be greeted (they could step on a heart for a hug, a hand for a high five, a music note for a song or a smiley face for a smile). The kids came to my door; some nervous, some excited. Only one cried, and that was because he loved his new Transformer backpack and didn’t want to keep it in his locker all day. I too am attached to my bags so, we were kindred spirits. By the end of the week, even the kids who were nervous on the first day eagerly came to my classroom and hopped on a square and most picked a song. Even at a young age they realized that I am the next Celine Dion.
Given my fond memories of school, it is surprising even to me that I am dreading the upcoming school year. On August 25th I won’t be excitedly galloping down the halls with my shiny new backpack or high-fiving a group of new students. I will instead be standing at the front door and waving goodbye to my sweet five year-old, Molly, most likely while holding my three year-old and trying not to sob on my husband’s shoulder. Molly could not be more excited. She can’t wait to meet new friends and learn to read and write. I, on the other hand, have been watching the calendar with increasing anxiety all summer. What I am afraid of, you ask? Good question. My fears include but are not limited to the following:
What if someone is mean to her?
What if she is sad or scared?
What if she gets hurt or sick?
What if she drops her lunch on the floor and has nothing to eat?
What if she gets lost trying to find her classroom and spends her day endlessly wandering the halls of McAndrew Elementary School?
I actually spent a fair amount of time trying to convince my husband that she didn’t need to go to kindergarten at all, at least not this year. I researched homeschooling, part time homeschooling, and even unschooling. I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that public school is the best choice for our family.
I am fully aware of the fact that I am being overdramatic, and that it’s kindergarten and not college. But kindergarten has made me acutely aware of how quickly time goes. As a wise woman once told me, “the days are long but the years are short.” I remember taking Molly home from the hospital and giving her a haphazard bath in the sink that may or may not have involved sticking her under the spigot to rinse her off. I remember the way she used to say, “Watch you Molly!” when she wanted to show us something. It really doesn’t feel like it was that long ago when she started potty training and said, “Ladi dadi, Molly’s on the potty!” And yet somehow 5 years have gone by before I knew it. To me, kindergarten is really the end of her babyhood, and I know the next 13 years will fly by just as quickly.
Part of parenting is letting your kids go, so I will put on a brave face as I drop her off at school and try not to cry on her teacher. I’m sure Molly’s elementary school years will be just as exciting and filled with fun as her first five.
Until then, I’ll be crying over her old baby pictures.