Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Kindergarten Tears and Triumphs

Cesar Chavez. Jim Henson. John Lennon. Jane Goodall. Albert Einstein. Pablo Picasso. Mahatma Gandhi.

Those are the faces peppering the halls as you enter my son's school. An international studies magnet school (public! free!) in our homogeneous neck of the woods is a dream. Five foreign languages taught starting in kindergarten. My Bird's gonna learn French! Curriculum designed to cover a global perspective. Again, a dream, considering my children say the words for grandma and grandpa in three different languages. We are the UN of families, and we are not alone as soon as we walk through the brick corridors of my son's school. My. Son's. School.

I have no reason to feel such trepidation. No reason to be anxious. No need to be so scared. So sad.

Millions of parents do it every fall. Most live to tell about it. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

I couldn't.

Let me get one thing out in the open. I cried. More than tears welling up in my eyes with a dumpling stuck in my throat but less than Niagara Falls. I'm saving up my boo-hooing for Tuesday, when school officially starts full time. Five. Days. A. Week. Oh, and when I have Mac Daddy at my side to mop me up. I treated today as a test drive. Denial. They say admitting it is the first step to recovery.

Bird, my Baby Bird, started kindergarten today. A milestone indeed. I suppose this is the stuff that makes people hate and doubt "mommy bloggers." I say fuck you. This stuff is important and has an impact on the human spirit, certainly a mom's spirit. Sending your child to spend more hours with someone else than you is a giant step. We spend so much time wishing away the time that we often forget to enjoy the ride. "I can't wait for him to talk. I can't wait for him to walk. He's making me nuts. When will school start?" Well folks, school has started, and I miss my Baby Bird already. Day One.

I have arranged my work schedule to eat three squares a day with my boys. I also take them to school and pick them up everyday. Now Bird is sitting in some cafeteria eating a ham sandwich and edamame out of his Batman lunch box with rowdy 5 year olds talkin' smack about Star Wars and Bumble Bee. Oh, and some little bully's gonna tease him about eating edamame and other stuff like snap peas and hummus. Bird told me that he met a bully today, in fact. I guess the kid headbutted Bird in the belly. When I asked Bird what the kid's name is, he responded, "I didn't ask, Mommy. I don't care what his name is because I don't want to be his friend." Then he asked me if I thought the bully would beat him up for not being his friend. Gawd, I can't handle the social pressure at the tender age of 5 (technically 4 til Friday!).

Yes, that's right. Bird will be 5 in two days, making him the youngest kid in kindergarten. Yet he makes the cut off. And you know what, he's totally ready. I know he's ready. I know Mac Daddy and I made the right decision to send him to kindergarten. No waffling here. The simple truth is, I'm not ready. As one feels intimate with one's mortality after a tragedy, I feel time slipping away more briskly than I thought possible. I never understood the whole time flies speech from seasoned parents when my guys were newborns. Now I've been initiated into the club. I get it. Every second is palpable. I hear the sands' of time grainy count down. My heart beats to the tick tocking of the clock. I get it. Time is the elusive beast.

My Bird, in the end, fared exceptionally well today. He took a good 10 minutes to let go of my leg and squeeze past the book shelves in the library to join the throng of kids. He refused to sit at a table with other kids, choosing an empty table instead (totally unlike his gregarious personality). Bird and Deal (who was also stressed, sensing it from us, no doubt), proceeded to color and draw rocket ships, aliens, and such. When it was time to get in line, Bird grasped my legs again. I silently willed him to break away lest I cry. My tears would have exacerbated an already tender situation. Alas, I realized I left my keys by the bookcase and had a legitimate excuse to step away. Those wily teachers took that opportunity to whisk him away. I took an extra long time to gather my keys (and umbrella that I would have forgotten on this soggy day) so I could do some quick yoga breathing and put on a happy face for Deal.

Deal and I spent the day as we usually do: gym, Starbucks, Target (2 1/2 hours!). In fact, at Starbucks, Deal insisted I buy an extra Horizon vanilla milk for Bird to enjoy when he gets home from school. That's my sensitive boy. I'll be too much of a wreck to blog when my baby goes to kindergarten. Now I know what my mom means by the "baby of the family" mess she blabbers on about when she refers to me. Even pushing 40, I'm still a baby.

My poor Bird spent 30 minutes of his first day of school with his head under a desk because we had tornado warnings in our county. Apparently the teachers and staff operated with aplomb. Teaching is tough enough without Mother Nature stumbling in the path. And let's face it, all the other mothers are probably more challenging to deal with.

When I picked up Bird from school, he greeted me with a gigantic grin and an ecstatic, "Mommy, my day was awesome!" At dinner his thank you for the day was that he got to go to kindergarten.

And so it goes. Once again my children are the ones teaching me a life lesson: Children are way more flexible and resilient than we give them credit for. Moms are another story. At least this mom is. I'm torn between tears of sorrow and tears of pride.
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The Cube Monkey said...

Wait till you drop them off for their first day of high school. =( I did that today.

tinsenpup said...

Wow! Congratulations on getting through that. I'm so glad Bird had a good day, in spite of the bully and tornado warning. The school sounds great.

Anonymous said...

Happy Kindergarten! I felt that same way and secretly will be the one battling tears next week when they start 2nd and 4th grade!

The Cube Monkey said...

"Bird, my Baby Bird, started kindergarten today. A milestone indeed. I suppose this is the stuff that makes people hate and doubt "mommy bloggers." I say fuck you. This stuff is important and has an impact on the human spirit, certainly a mom's spirit."

And this sentence, my dear, is one of the main reasons I read your blog...Your writing is raw, intelligent, and definitely from your heart. =)

Anonymous said...

Just wait when they graduate HS then you really would be balling your eyes out...

Anonymous said...

You sound EXACTLY like me last year. This year, however, we are homeschooling (for 1st grade) and it's a whole different world.

Anonymous said...

My children go to daycare, and I still sometimes cry when I drop them off, and they run to go play with their kids. Its my place in the universe; and I love it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I just want you to know I really enjoy reading your blog. How did Deal do today at his mini-day at preschool?

Anonymous said...

gphd, so glad you're enjoying reading Dirt & Noise! Deal did great today. Didn't miss a beat.