Tuesday morning, we sent our first born son off to full-day kindergarten. This is a huge deal in our house. Because aside from the two-hour, once-a-week Bible study class we’ve done, M has never before attended school. He has been hanging out with me or his dad every day for his whole life. He never even went to daycare.
I worried about and prayed for him as this week approached. I don’t remember my first day of kindergarten, but I do remember first grade. And I remember how being assigned a seat next to a boy in my class set me off crying. I’m sure it wasn’t only sitting next to a boy I didn’t want to sit near, but that all the emotion of such changes that come with starting school just spilled out of me at that precise moment. My first grade teacher knew exactly what to do and say to calm me down, like she could read my mind. I hoped for such care and kindness for my own boy as he began his journey through school. Because even if he doesn’t melt down this week or next, there may come a time when it just hits him like that, and I hope that his teachers will be the kind who get it.
Tuesday, he was nervous. The night before, he was both excited and scared. We tried not to talk too much about it because he’s kind of like his dad in that he doesn’t want to think too much about what worries him, especially if it’s unknown and out of his control. It was a fine line to walk, though, because like many five-year-olds, he also does better in new situations when he has some idea of what to expect. Because we ourselves didn’t know exactly what to expect, that part was a little harder.
So far, he loves school. And the adjustment has been pretty seamless for him so far. I can tell that there are some things he’s still working out about the new normal, though, because we’ve had a few tough times with him at home this week. And I expected that. The way he talks about school itself, though, I can see that he is enjoying himself there. After that first day, he’s happy to go there, happy to be there, and even a little not-so-happy to leave. He was not one of the kids who left class the last few days in tears. And I haven’t gotten any phone calls, yet, either. So that’s a bit of relief for me.
I, on the other hand, could never have prepared myself enough for this. This milestone of releasing my hold on my baby. I’ve been watching him grow into this amazing person. I’ve seen him get taller and stronger day by day. I’ve listened to his stories and participated in his games that have become more and more involved and elaborate. He is funny and kind and wild and wonderful. And even though building robots or pretending to be a thumper lion is not my personal idea of fun, it’s been so quiet around here without him asking me when I can come play, can I get his bike out, can we watch a movie.
But as much as I miss his presence and his energy around here, I know he’s right where he needs to be now. He is great with his little brother, but he needs to run around with kids his own speed and skill level. He’s eager to learn new things from someone that’s not me. I hate letting him go. It scares me that there will now be so many influences in his life that I can’t control and may never even know. And it’s hard for me to look back on our time at home together and believe that I always did my best, that I really prepared him for the world as much as I could have. I know I still have great influence here at home, but the dynamic has already began to shift, and I am continuing to hope and pray that he will do more good than bad, that he will show kindness and respect, and that he will be exposed to positive influences, encouragement and support.
The thing is, he’s already made me so very proud, and I can’t foresee any scenario in which he won’t always do just that.