Dear Mama of your first kindergartener,
You probably don’t think everyone knows who you are, and maybe everyone doesn’t. But I do. I could pick you out of this raging sea of emotional parents any day of the week.
As you walk onto the school grounds with your little one’s hand in yours, his or her backpack nearly the same size as them, I see the struggle on your face. Even though you and your child have been anxiously awaiting this day, it doesn’t come without a knock-down-drag-out fight between your intellect and your emotions. Your head and your heart.
I know this fight because I fought it last year. You see, today is your child’s first day of kindergarten, and it’s my child’s first day of first grade. Though we are a school year apart, I remember this day last year as if it were yesterday: my firstborn’s first day of kindergarten, the dreaded day every other parent warns you about.
My head knew my son was ready. He was smart enough, he was social enough, and he was over the moon with excitement. I could look at him and all the data checked out. We had no logical reason to be wary or nervous about that day.
But apparently my heart didn’t get the memo.
I watched my son – my baby – trot into a sea of other (much larger) children. And even though he stood at a solid three-and-a-half feet tall, he still looked so small to me. Like I could still scoop him up and hold his entire body, certain that from head to toes, he’d only span the length of my folded arms.
His school is one of the best in the county, and even still, the reality was that no one in that gigantic expanse of classrooms, playgrounds and libraries knew my baby the way I did. No one knew his quirks, his desires, or his personality like me. And my heart positively ached. What if other students made fun of him for his love of trains, or his still babyish knuckle dimples? I trembled at the idea that he might get lost in the shuffle of hundreds (maybe even thousands) of new and veteran students in the hallways, and that he’d be left behind– or worse– feel like I abandoned him in this scary place.
Despite my heart’s desire to run back into his classroom and snatch him back up and take him back home with me, I listened to my intellect and drove myself home.
When I pulled into the carline at the end of the day, I found him bouncing up and down like a whack-a-mole, beaming from ear to ear. As he was piling into the car, I asked him what his favorite part of his day was.
“Well, I guess I’d just have to say…” he paused and put his chubby fist to his chin, “the whole day!”
And just like that, my heart relented. It crossed over to the other side, my head already waiting for it.
And your heart will do the same, Mama. After begging and pleading that you hang on to your little one for just one more day, your heart will make peace with your head, and you will be able to let go. Joyfully, even.
You can do this, Mama. You will get through this day. I know it, because I did it.
Have a great year!
Mama of a first grader