I was all queued up to write the teary essay about my oldest venturing off to Kindergarten.
I had the tears all shed.
I had the words mostly summoned.
And then we celebrated Labor Day.
By which I mean Big Friend and I shot beseeching looks of “please, please, pretty please save me from these little monsters” at one another all day, but it turns out one drowning person simply cannot help another drowning person. We flailed in a sea of sibling rivalry, whining, meltdowns, tantrums, hitting, shoving, screeching, biting, and hair pulling. We begged one another to make bedtime come quicker. We tag-teamed who was going to deal with the latest round of well-earned time outs. We took turns hiding in the bathroom for as long as plausible. Anything to save us from the stark raving mad children.
Come Tuesday morning, I was skipping to that Kindergarten school bus.
The first week of Kindergarten was all about letting go. Letting go of a hand that clung to mine as the school bus doors swallowed her up. Letting go of an era in my life that has been all about little ones all day long–diaper bags and sippy cups and snack traps and holding hands to cross streets and tying shoelaces and buckling carseats and answering “why?” a gazillion times over and potty training and bedtime stories and measuring pea-sized portions of toothpaste on toothbrushes and nose picking and boo-boo kissing and cutting hotdogs to non-choking-sized pieces.
I let go of that hand and that era and shipped her off to school and came back into the house wearing my “Brave Mommy” face with a quivering chin and promptly lost it when I saw her empty chair and cereal bowl with a lovelorn cheerio floating in the puddle of milk.
It was a whole week of mornings like that. She loved kindergarten. I didn’t love kindergarten. I missed her.
And then we celebrated Labor Day. Come Tuesday morning, I skipped to the bus. My chin was tautly anchored by a smile. I gave myself the gift of relishing having just one child hanging around. Four hours free of sibling quibbling. Bliss.
I think about the other kindergarten parents I know. The parents I pass in the school hallways. At the bus stop. The parents who have posted the glittering first-day-of-school pics on Facebook. Some of us are brave. Some of us are weepy. Some of us are overjoyed. Some of us are reluctant. Smash us together, and we’d have a pretty accurate collage of the gamut run by parental emotions.
Parenting, in all its profundity, comes down to one simple piece of playground equipment: the see-saw. You’re either up or down or caught somewhere in the middle anticipating the plummet or pinnacle that’s sure to come next. It all balances out in the long run. In the short run, though, it’s a wild ride of extreme emotions.
The second week of Kindergarten is teaching me a thing or two about life and parenting and children growing up too quickly and too slowly all at the same time. Had I written this post last week, I would have served up a raw shock of mommy tears. Now, I simply don’t have the emotional energy to keep grieving the loss of my pre-kindergartner. There are breakfasts to be made, socks to be matched, sibling battles to be refereed, carpools to be coordinated, groceries to be unloaded, junk mail to be sorted, vacations to be planned, and crumbs to be swept off of every surface of home and car. The tasks of living buoy me upward from the bottommost thunk of the see-saw.
On the up-swing? She’s got smiles, skips in her step, and new songs to teach her little sister. She loves her teacher. She loves her sight words. She loves keeping her behavior chart on green all day every day. She loves kindergarten.
You know what? The second week of kindergarten is not so bad after all. Two weeks in, and I’m learning to love it too.