To say that G and I have been nervous about kindergarten is a little bit of an understatement. We’ve both been battling anxiety over it for months. Longer, even.
We kept busy with our Summer Bucket List and next thing we knew, Kindergarten Orientation day was here.
He cried. The teachers led their classes to their classrooms to say hi and start tours of the school. Parents were left behind in the cafeteria to fill out paper work and listen to the principal say a few words. G didn’t want to go, and it was gut wrenching to see him cling to Mr Boots like his life depended on it, telling us he didn’t want to.
I cried. I tried hard not to, but it was a mix of things suddenly coming to a head. It was the sight of Nut Free signs at the lunch tables, because I’ve been
thinking worrying about what elementary school will be like for L, who still has two years before that adventure. It was seeing G’s anxiety and not knowing how to really calm his worries.
It was not really knowing what to expect…Would he have more than one recess? (No.) Will he have homework? (Only reading and special projects.) Why does he need a beach towel?! (Kindergartners have a nap/rest period for the first month.)
But more than that, it’s the thought of him not being safe. Sandy Hook happened during the height of my postpartum depression/anxiety with G. It shook me in a way a news story hasn’t before — or since. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had vivid intrusive thoughts of the same thing happening with my boys in the classroom.
I can’t tell you how many times since then I’ve thought about homeschooling my kids. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried and thought, “I don’t want them to go.” Because what have we really done to ensure something like that doesn’t happen again?
It has nothing to do with G being gone all day or growing up. He’s very ready for what he’ll learn in kindergarten, and I don’t mind the chance to start crossing things off my personal 5 year-old bucket list. It’s got some to do with my feelings on full day kindergarten in general and our country’s flawed education system, but everything to do with Sandy Hook.
But I always had time to push those thoughts away. Years…Months…
For the two weeks leading up to G’s first day of school, I was angry and had several panic attacks. I didn’t have any more time. My oldest was heading to kindergarten and there wasn’t time to do anything but send him off despite my fears.
G and I both felt better when the orientation was over. He made a friend. I learned that his teacher is also a Boy Mom and understands that kids need the chance to run around and I was able to find out how getting on and off the bus would go and what his day would be like.
We were nervous the first morning. But G got off the bus that afternoon hot, sweaty, and very excited to show us everything he’d brought home in his back pack. He earned four stickers for being good and his teacher told him he was pretty awesome. He loved the bus but the cafeteria was too loud. He hated rest time. He thought it was hilarious that his feet stank after he took off his shoes for the first time in eight hours.
Today was day three. He still wants me to walk him up to the bus door (today he turned back around to give me a hug) and gives us an enthusiastic wave through the window when the bus drives back by our house.
School isn’t where he wants to be (it hasn’t been for a couple years). But I know he’ll get more out of being there than staying home with me, home school or not. I think he’ll be okay once he gets used to his new routine. And I’ll be okay once I get used the idea of trusting others to keep him safe.
We’ll both be okay.