My son will be 5-years-old in 19 days and will be exiting preschool forever by summers end. I am anxious to begin this new phase of our lives with our son which is not a foreign feeling to many other parents getting ready to enter the elementary school phase.
Like other parents, I have a lot of worries going forward with kindergarten. I hope that we’ve picked a good school for our son and that he’ll like it and will do well and that the “damage” my husband and I will inevitably inflict on him throughout my son’s life will be minimally linked to our primary school choice for him. My boy asked me at one point, “Will there be dress up clothes in kindergarten?” and I cringed inside knowing full well that many of the things like dress up that he loves to do in preschool will be substituted for more academic learning. (So terribly sad!) I worry that I will not be able to protect him anymore and that my son’s sweet innocence may be lost or crushed in his first year of school. (He can be so sweet and I love him so much!) I also worry that kids will be mean to him because let’s face it sometimes kids can be really mean! And lastly, and of most concern, I worry that he’ll be mean to others if he can’t get a handle on how to self regulate his own emotions which when out of control can cause him to lash out at others. (Please, please, please don’t get kicked out of kindergarten!)
Most of these fears I have about kindergarten are brought on by our society since it seems to expect so much of our children at such a young age or perhaps we adults are simply too involved. We expect a lot of kids now verses in the generations before us. Not only are kindergarten days longer (there are no half day options around us), the requirements that many schools now expect from kindergarteners is what used to be expected from first graders. Somewhere in the last couple of decades it seems that a whole year of childhood has been lost due to higher expectations being placed on our young children.
There are additional worries I have as well that go beyond school and are more about my son growing up: Will he no longer want to snuggle up with me now that he’ll be influenced by all the BIG kids? (I love my little boy kisses and hugs and how he still comes into our bed every morning!) Will he no longer want to hold my hand? Will he no longer want me around?
I remember feeling fear/anxiety like this in the very uncertain adoption process of waiting to get picked to adopt our child. Nothing at all was certain about that process. Nothing. If there was one lesson I learned from that unsettling time was that nothing in life is ever really certain, for anyone. Why I ever assumed certainty as I get ready to send my kid off into his first days of kindergarten is beyond me.
With that said, I’m now going to take a breath and step back for a moment. B R E A T H E … B R E A T H E … B R E A T H E … B R E A T H E … B R E A T H E …
Everything is going to be alright. Really. Who knows what will work or not work for my son. We can only make our best guess and move on from there. All I really need to do now is to take it one day at a time and tackle whatever problem that comes my way when and if it comes my way.
On the flip side of things there are going to be some real benefits to my son starting kindergarten. I’m really excited to gain some time back for myself. Self time has been pretty nonexistent for many years now and it is time to put the focus more on me again. I’m hoping to have time for pampering myself (like looking in the mirror again at some point during the day, preferably before I leave the house), doing more artwork and writing, and figuring out in which direction to take my work/blog. Instead of putting all of my attention on things to worry about I’ll do my best to place my focus on the exciting journey ahead of us – at least that is what I’m telling myself!