Fear and loathing in the local elementary school
Last year at this time, we were debating whether to send Peanut to the pre-K program at her preschool, or send her to kindergarten. We decided on pre-K, and have not regretted it for a second. The program is excellent. She has flourished under it—gaining confidence and social skills, as well as moving her fine-motor skills much closer to where they need to be.
When the big manila envelope from the elementary school arrived two weeks ago, I shrugged it off.
“She’s ready,” I thought. “So ready.”
But there is still a problem.
You see, I am not ready.
Not ready at all.
I sat there today, in the lobby of that school. And at first I felt fine. I chatted with the other moms. I realized Peanut will likely be on the middle- to older-end of her classmates, which is great. I watched her play with a pile of toys and every so often she’d run over to me and say excitedly, “When do we go register, Mom? Is it our turn yet?”
I felt good.
She’s so ready.
Then, suddenly, the hall was filled with students. Class after class walking by us in a line. So many students. Big students. So much bigger. Taller. More mature. Boys in jeans and sports-logo shirts laughing loudly. Girls with braces (braces!!) in low-slung pants and Ugg boots.
I watched them, these children. I watched how they looked at Peanut, my daughter, with an air of superiority that comes with being the Big Fish in the pond. I saw their knowing, smug looks. I saw the way they smirked at her, undoubtedly thinking, “oh look at that little girl there, playing with toys. TOYS!" ::snicker snicker::
And as each passed a vice tightened more and more snuggly around my heart.
Fear of the unknown. Fear of sending her out from under my wing. Fear of her being picked on, or afraid. Fear of her having no friends. Of being the odd kid. The one eating at the lunch table alone. Fear of her coming home in tears. Fear of some brute grabbing her backpack away from her and tossing it to his friend. Fear of name-calling and bullying and cliquishness.
So much fear.
I wanted to snatch her up—my baby, this child that I birthed, like, yesterday—wrap her in my arms, run from the lobby and never look back.
I sat there, feeling my heart pounding in my chest. I turned my face away from the other mothers so they would not see the tears struggling to leak from my eyes. I pressed a finger to the corner of each eye, swallowing hard, trying to keep it all in.
“Mrs. Gav?” called the woman at the front desk.
Peanut jumped up and grabbed my hand. “It’s our turn, Mommy! It’s our turn. Come on! Come on!”
She is so ready.
The question is, when will I be?