I am not OK. My oldest son is starting kindergarten next year and we are getting invitations to things like, “transitional meetings” and starting to prepare for the big jump from preschool to the big leagues.
And, it is a jump. I have taught both preschool and elementary school and I know what a shock to the system that elementary school can be to a new Kindergartener. In addition, my son has a few challenges that may make that transition even more stressful for all of us.
Here is what I hope my sweet 5 year old knows as he moves on….
Dear Sweet Baby Bear,
Have I told you today how proud I am that you are my son? You are everything that your father could have ever dreamed of. You and your brother are the axis on which our world spins. Nothing else has ever brought me more joy than being your mommy.
Next year is going to be a big year for all of us. You will be starting Kindergarten. As of now, you seem to think that Kindergarten is a large aquarium… But, you’re excited. You are always excited, my sweet love. You go after life with zest. You are never intimidated by new people. You are always excited to make new friends and try new things.
Sometimes, you get too excited, though. Sometimes, you lose control of your body and you say and do things that you do not mean. That’s not mommy making excuses for her baby. That’s just a fact. You are my most special baby bear and you are different. You get set off by noises or lights, you can be moody and aloof, you have trouble sharing and sometimes you hit and push. You are as imperfect as the rest of us.
When you start school, there will be people who may not understand you. It may be rough for you some days. People may think that you are TRYING to do things that you truly feel are out of your control. You may get frustrated and I am certain that you will get your feelings hurt. But, if there is one thing you have shown me time and time again, it is your strength.
You have worked your butt off in the last few years. When other kids were just picking up on things and you were struggling, Mommy and Daddy would worry for you sometimes. But, we have learned not to worry so much. You always exceed our expectations. You have been through a lot for a 5 year old and you have handled it without losing that loving heart and funny personality. Everyone is charmed by you.
Kindergarten may be tougher. The kids and the teachers may be a bit less patient. The halls may be noisier. The classroom may be more structured. You may have to sit at a desk or a table at an assigned seat. I know this all sounds like torture to you, my love. I know that this will be hard and scary for you, at times. I wish I could come to your classroom every day and help you. But, I can’t. You have to do this on your own.
The thing that is hardest about parenting is knowing just when to hold on and just when to let go. It’s like with you and the cat. You have to be aware of when you are squeezing too tightly. You can only hug him so much… Same thing.
I don’t know if every mom feels this way, but each milestone that passes is so bittersweet. Here you are growing and becoming better and smarter every day. But, you are one step closer to leaving me. Kindergarten is one step closer to college as far as I am concerned. And, I can’t bear the idea of you leaving us behind. I know I will have to accept it someday. However, it’s truly a heartbreaking thought right now.
But, we have time. That is what today is for. That is what school is for. That is what growing up is all about. It’s your time to figure out who you are. It’s your time to find the things that make you tick. These are the moments that I have to savor. I can’t allow my fear of the passage of time to keep me from being here with you, now. I must breathe you in, hold your hand, touch your sweet, soft curls. Look into those big doe eyes. The truth is that I am going to hold you in my heart forever, but you won’t fit in my arms much longer…