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Challenge: Back to School

A Letter to First-Time Kindergarten Parents

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Dear Newbie Kindergarten Parents,

I know what you are going through. I know because I was there, just one short year ago. I can remember the ache, the fear, the frantic loss of control knowing that your baby will suddenly, abruptly, be away from you for so many hours a day.

Kindergarten is game-changer. I get it. We all get it, who have been there. Preschool is AA ball; kindergarten is the MLB, the real deal. You've held them in your arms for so many years. How did the time pass so quickly? How is he possibly old enough for this? Well, moms and dads, the reality is that he is old enough. And he is ready, even if you're not.

Having been in your shoes quite recently, I'd like to tell you that it's okay if you are scared. It's okay if you cry—like ugly cry. It's alright if you ask 8,001 questions. Don't feel like you need to sign up for every committee, but it's okay if you do. Your child's teacher has likely had newbie parents like you before. So when you invent completely inane reasons to email his teacher, just so you can make some sort of connection with that little person that you miss so much, that's alright too. You're not the only one.

The night before my eldest started kindergarten, I stood in my kitchen and cried. I cried hard. I didn't know why, but now I do. It's more than the pain of missing them and the fear of them growing up too fast. This is our big test, and that's terrifying. How did we do as parents? Did we do our jobs the past 5 years? Are they ready to walk into a room, without us by their sides? Are they able to wait their turn? Will they handle themselves well on the playground—with the mean kid and with the quiet kid who has no friends? What if they are scared? What if they are hurt? Will they know what to do? Can they wipe their own butts? Will they remember to wash their hands? What if they can't open their applesauce during lunch?

Well, here's the thing. Even if your kid can only do some of these things, and even if she can't do any of them at all, she's going to be okay. Because you did it. You passed the test already. She's loved. She's proud of herself. She's got her Elsa backpack and she's good to go. You got this.

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