I’m now a proud parent of a kindergartener. A KINDERGARTNER! While I’m very excited for Ellie and this major milestone, I’m completely caught off guard of with how unprepared I feel about this. Yes, I have all of her school supplies and I pack her lunch and all that, but emotionally, I’m a wreck.
When Ellie started preschool she was absolutely ready and so was I. I could not keep up with everything she needed from me anymore. She was ready to spread her wings and indulge in her need for independence. I wasn’t sad or worried on her first day of preschool, I was happy. I wanted to get out of her way and let her fly.
I felt the same helping her prepare for kindergarten. I’m not typically a worrier. I’m not an over-thinker (mostly). I don’t like to over complicate things if I can help it, especially for the kids. Aya and I both knew Ellie was more than ready for it and felt excited for her.Â But kindergarten seems to have a lot more weight than preschool did. And while I thought I was being light and breezy about this whole thing, it turns out I’m not. I’m definitely not.
She’s only been in school for nine days and she’s already a different person. She only wants to take showers now (which is huge considering she absolutely despised getting her face and hair wet), she’s become determined to conquer the monkey bars (which she did), and now she wants to take the training wheels off of her bike. Oh, and she has a “boyfriend” now! More on that later (puke).
She’s absorbing everything at school. Her world view just blew up and she loves everything about it. As she’s going through these changes, the rest of us are too. Chloe is going through Ellie withdrawal and misses her domineering older sister. I’m finding my way getting to know Chloe all over again as am individual and not the tag-a-long-little-sister. And all of us are becoming accustomed to a regimented schedule where minutes make or break the flow of the morning routine. While we all adjust accordingly, I worry. About what? EVERYTHING!
Is this the right school for her? Is she going to be a good kid? Or the bully kid? Or be bullied? Is she going to be a mean girl? Or a welcoming girl? Am I too hard on her? Or not hard enough? What if she starts to reject her Japanese half because it’s different? What if she drops her love for learning? Maybe I didn’t prepare her enough? Maybe I haven’t prepared her in the right way? And then I feel like I’m a terrible parent. That I’ve missed something major. Yes I cook and clean, but maybe there is some actual parenting that I really dropped the ball on.
What I think it comes down to is that since Ellie was born, she’s been in a protective bubble we’ve created for her. We’vetried to make it a bubble as big as possible, but no matter how big, it’s still a bubble with us as gatekeepers. We knew everything that was coming in and out. Now, for seven hours a day, there are no gatekeepers. I’ve never been one to say “I hope she never grows up,” or “can’t she stay small forever?” I want her world to open up and I want her to have her own experiences. My biggest fear is that we haven’t prepared her to start being her own gatekeeper. Maybe the security detail on the bubble was too much?
I know this worrying is normal. Looking at these worries out loud I chuckle because I know all of the answers and the ones I don’t know, I know they will come soon enough. Everything will be fine. Everything will work out. I know this. Yet, these written words of worry don’t even begin to describe what it is I’m feeling. I feel like I’m going crazy because I can’t even find the right words. Not even close.
Comfort came when I was talking to a friend who is one step ahead of me as a parent with a first grader. While I rambled and stuttered in anxiety trying to explain what it was, she stopped me and said, “I get it. I know exactly what you’re talking about.” Even though I was making no sense, she completely understood. I know I’m not crazy.
I know in a few weeks I’ll think back to this and give myself an embarrassed smile at my imagined anxiety. “What was I so worried about? She’s doing great!” I will say. That is at least until it’s time for first grade. Then I’m sure I’ll repeat this all over again. But, you know, only for the rest of my life.
Good luck to all the new kindergartners out there this year, and to their parents!
We all need as much affirmation as we can get.