Kindergarten: A New Frontier

September 5, 2011
by Holly Becker

img_16971August marked the beginning of a new chapter for my family as my five-year-old twins entered kindergarten. As the big day drew near, I grew more nervous. Are they really prepared for kindergarten? Should I separate my twins or keep them together? Will they get upset when I drop them off that first day? What if they don’t go inside? How will I get them inside?

Oh, and don’t forget that one of my kindergarteners has a broken leg and is in a full leg cast. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a worrier by nature, but this unexpected happening set my brain in overdrive. What if he can’t move around in his wheel chair well? What if he can’t make it to the potty in time at school? What if he feels left out on the playground?

What I really feared is change. Let’s face it. Change, even good change, can be scary. As a first time mom to kindergarteners, I’m navigating a new frontier and that can be more frightening than a trip to the grocery store with all three kids. I’m used to having more control over how my kids spend their day. Now, I’m trusting other adults to care for, educate and influence them in positive ways. It’s the first step, although small, in a series of letting go moments that will allow my children to one day become independent adults. At least that’s what I hope happens. I get a little concerned when my daughter tells me that she wants “to live with Mommy and Daddy forever and ever.” Hopefully her future spouse will convince her otherwise.

As I made the historic walk into the elementary school, I had no idea how I’d feel or react or how they’d feel and react once we reached the classroom. I had flashbacks to Beginners Day in May, when the school invited rising kindergarteners to visit a classroom while parents learned more about the school. That morning ended with two teachers prying my daughter’s fingers off my arms while a gym filled with other parents and kids watched.

I also thought about my son, who’d barely spoken a word about kindergarten, until he woke up the night before school saying he didn’t want to go. Why? “I want to stay home and play with toys. I’ll miss playing with Siler” he said. It nearly drove me to a boo hoo fest. The poor little guy would actually miss his little brother.

Once at the room the teacher greeted us with a warm smile and invited us into the classroom. I knew I had to plot my escape route soon to avoid a scene. I gave them a quick hug and traced a heart on the palm of their hands. Yes, I totally stole that idea from The Kissing Hand, a heartwarming children’s book about letting go and venturing off to school. I wanted to use an ink pen to draw a heart at home, but Eli told me that hearts were for girls. Then Mila decided it wasn’t cool either.

Then I gently whispered the words that I’ve decide to make a part of our morning routine. “Remember who you are.” Yes, I stole this line too. One of my best college friends told me how her father says these words to her whenever they part ways. She’s in her 30s now, but he still says these four little words to her before hanging up the phone. I love the simplicity and weight these words carry.

I hope when Mila and Eli think of these words that they remember they are their mother and father’s most precious possessions and reflect the character and values we try to teacher them. And most importantly, I hope they remember they are God’s children and reflect the love of Jesus in their interactions with others.

I walked out of the elementary school and wanted to do a happy dance, but I spared others the pain of watching me dance. I smiled all the way to the parking lot as memories of their infant, toddler and preschool years flooded my mind. Now, it was on to a new stage—the school years. I was pleased that they let go, and I let go without any tears. Yes, I will miss having them with me all day, but I’m excited about the adventure that has just begun.

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