Thursday, March 05, 2009

Fear and loathing in the local elementary school

Today was kindergarten registration in my town.

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.

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.

Fear, fear.

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?

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Aunt Shirley said...

This from the only cheerleader from our family (talk about successful)? Because she's ready, you'll be too when she comes home -more often than not, at any rate - happy, talkative, and full of giggles. Didn't you feel the same way when she entered pre-school? And look at how well you both did!

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bigger kids love the Kindegarteners. They think they are cute and are usually very helpful with them. My three are in 8th, 6th & 4th and have managed to do very well with very few problems. Yours will too. This is just another small step towards letting go and letting them grow up. One great thing about girls is that they give full reports of what happened at school. She's happy about going and you'll see that you'll be happy too.

Aunt Kath

7:26 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

Oh, such a big step! Hang in there, she'll do great and so will you.

My fifth grade class got to have first grade buddies and help them with their reading. They were so much littler that it was fun and no one could imagine picking on them. I think that older kids would be protective of the kindergarteners, although I suppose there are bad eggs anywhere.

And no worries about the multiple-posted comment. It was nice to hear from you!

12:08 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

She is lucky to have you to come home too.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Kelley said...

She's going to do great! And you'll be fine. Really, as someone else commented, the big kids love the Kindergartners and first graders too.

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Shelley said...

It's so much harder for us. Once again Kim, I am amazed at your writing....you had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat!

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should be proud that she is so ready. You are doing your job. She is ready and she will always be ready to take the next step, jump or hurdle foward...you, (the parent)I am afraid ,will never be READY.

My 2nd 'baby' is starting 1st grade and my BABY is going to pre-k. My HOUSE will be empty three mornings a week, something that hasn't happened in 11 (yes 11) years!

B

12:49 PM  

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