There she goes. First day of school – and she’s off to Pre-K. Precocious and cautious. I’m aware that the designer monogrammed book bag wasn’t necessary. But the alternative was a zebra print plastic bag with purple sparkles all over it. It was a little much. And this one had a unicorn patch option. She really wanted the one with a unicorn patch. Because Unicorns are real, Mom, right? I know that the Ninja Turtle lunchbox probably won’t be used as much as the cafeteria lunch account. I’m lucky if I get my lunch made in the mornings; to pack two lunches will require organization I’m just not sure I posses. I also realize that she hasn’t actually grown out of her old tennis shoes. We got her new ones any way. Because she is going to the Big School. And you only go to the first day of Big School once.
I’m not ready to let her go.
I spent so much of the past five years lamenting how her birthday would hold her back and how this was the year she should be in Kindergarten. How academically she’s ready. How it’s a shame that as an educator I can’t determine what is right for my child. That it’s a shame there are no loop holes to look past 48 hours on a birth certificate.
And now, I’m thankful. We are not in Kindergarten. Not yet.
Oh, if we were going to Kindergarten, I’m sure I would be medicated. But I have one more year to prepare myself. To read more and study more about how to handle those mean girls (and boys) – the ones we met last year in four-year-old daycare that told her that she was weird because she liked to dress in costumes and made fun of her when she would run and kiss on her baby sister when they were on the playground together. The names they would call her, the tears she would shed; it was almost more than this Mama could take. I’m not sure I could take another morning meltdown with tears drenching her face as she sobbed, “But no one will play with me if I don’t wear a dress. They will say that I’m ugly.”
She was only four.
I’m terrified that Big School will be just that – bigger bullies, greater grief, a quandary of questions. I want to savor her innocence, not mourn its death. Not yet. But I know we are entering the beginning of the end.
I’m not ready for this season to end.
I don’t want her to stop pretending that the pool noodle is a sea horse or to stop looking for Smurfs hiding under her bed or to quit hearing the Lorax when she rolls the windows down in the car and lets the breeze blow onto her face. She already refuses to wear hair bows. Headbands are okay but hair bows are for babies. I love her nightly performances, completely uninhibited but recently, there are moments where I can see her becoming keenly aware herself and she just stops. She retracts into her mind and becomes shy. I hate how when we are at the neighborhood pool the other kids leave her out and how now, on the verge of Big School, she’s apprehensive to make new friends where as a year ago, it didn’t matter. She won’t know anyone at her new school. Everything will be completely new. She’ll be the littlest one. And she has to navigate this with me watching from the car pool line.
I can’t even walk her in the building.