Last year around this time I remember being so nervous for the upcoming school year. My baby boy was headed off to Kindergarten and no part of me was ready. I had dreaded this day since he was a tiny baby asleep in my arms and I saw a back to school commercial come on TV. I remember thinking Thank God that’s so far away… I can’t even imagine how hard that day is going to be!
But last September that day had come. It was now my turn to let my baby get on that big yellow school bus all by himself, with a book-bag practically as big as him on his back. As the bus pulled away I literally had to use every ounce of strength in me to restrain myself from chasing down the bus. I went inside, sat down on the couch with my head in my hands and wept. My little man was gone, into a big world, all by himself, for the very first time.
What if he couldn’t find his classroom? What if he can’t open his lunch box? What if he’s scared? What if he doesn’t feel good? What if someone picks on him?
The questions ran through my head and I even contemplated driving to school to check on him. After a few (many) more tears I finally collected myself and kept myself busy until it was time for him to get home. I waited at the end of the driveway as the bus pulled up and to my delight saw my little man get off the bus with an ear to ear smile on his face. The first words out of his mouth were “Kindergarten was awesome!!!… But I missed you!” my heart felt full. He loved it! What a relief! We went inside and he told me all about his first day (over a snack of course). That day I not only learned so much about my sweet boy, but I could tell he learned so much about himself. And that was just the begining.
So for all the Mommy’s and Daddy’s out there preparing for your child’s first day of Kindergarten, I encourage you to remember this… The day your little boy or girl gets on that bus and heads off to school will no doubt be one of the hardest moments of “letting go”, but I promise you this, you will be pleasantly surprised on how rewarding it can be too. When your son or daughter comes home excited to tell you about the new friend they met (all on their own!), or about the award they received at the school assembly, or with tales about their latest field trip you will feel a sense of pride that you have never felt. When they sit down at the kitchen table to do their homework (yes there’s homework in Kindergarten) but are able to read, add, subtract or write better than they did when they first started school you will feel such joy seeing them succeed and flourish. You also feel a sense of relief that they are having fun and making the best of an all day learning experience that you thought may be too much for them. And friends, some days it is. Some days it’s not going to be all sunshine and rainbows, and they come home in tears over being picked on or about being moved from blue to yellow on the behavior chart because they didn’t make the best decisions that day. But all of these moments only make you see the person your little one is growing into. You now see how they will deal with adversity or conflict. How will they over come a difficult situation or how they will face their bullies. You will see them over come fears and push through challenging events. And even though in the moment it’s going to be hard for the both of you, at the end of it you will find you have a bond with your child that you never had before kindergarten. You become a team more than ever before. You learn what being your child’s advocate really means, and he/she learns what it really means to trust you.
“The year of kindergarten” as we called it in our house wasn’t always easy. It wasn’t always happy. But it was rewarding in more ways than I can count, both academically and for our family. Our little guy slowly but surely developed his own wings to fly in this great big world, and before we knew it he was soaring all on his own. So my hope for you is…if you find yourself wanting to chase that bus down, you instead take a step back and watch your baby fly.