Sunday, September 25, 2011

First Day of Kindergarten

Baby in Kindergarten 
My baby got out of the car today and walked away from me. I sat behind the wheel and watched his diapered bottom toddle down the breezeway, watched as he stumbled and caught himself with palms flat on the sidewalk. Tears filled my eyes as he straightened himself, as much as he could with the wide stance and sway-back swagger of a toddler. I was in disbelief the elementary school allowed my baby to enter its doors. I blinked away tears that threatened to fall and my son turned back to smile at me. He waved at me, as if he was wiping the steam off the bathroom mirror. With each swipe of his hand a year was wiped away and I smiled back at my five-year old. He turned his slender shoulders as a teacher touched him on the back, guiding him to his classroom. I glanced at his skinny, endless legs atop shoes that looked too big to fit and I could still see his chubby legs that once carried him across our carpeted family room floor. I took a shaky breath as Sam disappeared into the building. I pulled out into the school zone and maintained my speed all the way home.
Freed at last! I had five and a half glorious hours during which I didn't referee a fight, answer unanswerable questions or listen to Dora screaming from my TV. I didn't listen to Kidz Bopz, I didn't eat my lunch standing at the kitchen counter, and I didn't use my “mom voice” until the day was half over. I'd waited for this, longed for this freedom and now that I had it I felt, well changed.
I had such mixed feelings about school. I felt as though I was starting a 16-year sentence that would govern my life schedule, sleep schedule and sanity. I couldn't take off to the beach on a random Wednesday, and I couldn't have pajama day with the kids just because we felt like it. I realized unlike preschool, attendance mattered.

However, I was excited about the things Sam would learn. I was anxious to start a routine with him and build a foundation from which he'd grow his academics. I hoped I wouldn't push my perfectionism issues onto my son. I wanted him to give it his all and for him to know I’d be happy with that. I needed to BE happy with that, even if that meant my child wasn't the smartest, or tallest, or best-behaved. I realized wanting your child to be their best is much different than being the best. Was that a lesson I was able to impart? Could I accept the imperfections within myself and show him I loved him without conditions? Wow, I thought.  Kindergarten is so much harder the second time around.

So there I was. The culmination of everything I'd taught Sam for the five short years I'd had him came to this. He started school and left the security of my arms. As he learned about math, science and language arts, I'd  learn about my child. I'd learn what he is like when I’m not around. I would see how he handled peer pressure, academic pressure and his personal pressure to succeed or be cool. I imagined my little Sam standing in the middle of a circle with hundreds of different paths shooting out from the center. Which path would he choose? Would I still make an impact when he was gone so many hours each day? How would I let him choose his own path with the knowledge that one day he'd fail and all I could do was help pick him up? How involved should I be? When was being an involved Mom a hindrance to a child’s growth? Should I join the PTA?  Was it just a grown-up version of high school student council? Was I ready to be involved in the politicking and bullshit that surely went along with the bake sales and fundraisers? How would I feel when Sam would rather spend time with his friends, or alone in his room than be with me? How soon would that time come? Would school change my son or would it simply bring out the traits that had been simmering beneath the surface all along? Would Sam be a leader? A nerd or a jock? How would he find his place on the social web or did any of that really matter? Would he share his day with me or give me one-word answers when I ask him how his day was? Would his teachers encourage him about learning or would the dreaded standardized tests ruin his potential?

These questions and worries swirled in my mind as I wandered through my silent house. The toys were picked up, the kitchen was clean, and the laundry was rolling. I shook the sadness from my shoulders and plopped down on the couch. Hm, I kinda like the quiet. I could get used to this. I closed my eyes for a moment when my phone alarm went off.
It was time for pickup.
Boy in Kindergarten


Clever Human said...

Reminds me of this commercial:

Quite a quandary, but a superlative job. Loquacious and good. Hope everything is copacetic now.

Anonymous said...

I was JUST thinking about your blog when your post popped up on facebook. I was literally getting ready to text you to ask you where your post was! Proud of you.. Keep them coming. (One typo. 'within in').. Delete my comment...

Shannon said...

Thanks for the feedback! I appreciate it and NEED it! :)

Anonymous said...

Loved reading this. I think what I like most about it is I can hear your voice in my head. I relived the feeling I had when Anthony went to school for the first time. Keep up the good work!!