I’ve always been the strong one. That weird parent, that other than my strange over protectiveness, I really have never gotten emotional at the “normal” emotional milestones for parents. The first birthday I was just happy to have made it to with my hair, the first steps, first words, unfortunately I don’t have a specific memory on because of the crazy stress of insignificant things. Although the past three years have presented so many challenges and emotional stressors for me, it also has provided a wonderful opportunity for my penguin and I to build a strong, unique bond.
This momentous day, that happens every year, and for parents with multiple children it happens more than once, is happening to me tomorrow. Yes, I know it is not me, but I’m an emotional wreck. I’m trying to keep it together for her because she is so excited. But it’s bedtime, and she just whispered into the monitor, “I’m a little norvous about big school tomorrow.” Boy am I glad that’s not a two way camera. I tried to choke back the tears and press the mic to reply, “it’s okay, you’ll be great.”
This is my penguin. This is the start of it. I will make it, we will make it. But, yes, I am bringing the Kleenex and doubling up on the meds.
Eating solid foods. Crawling. First steps. First words. Just a few milestones a parent looks forward too and remembers about their children. I have the pivotal one coming up that starts in motion the rest of her life. I know that may sound dramatic, even for me, but as I think about it, I don’t know how else to explain the importance. Kindergarten. Then I realize, my mini me, the almost 6 year old version of myself, sees kindergarten as I saw starting eight grade. And, that makes me sad. And, that makes me excited.
Starting kindergarten for me was no big deal in this rural southern town. At least I don’t remember it being an issue. At that time there was no choice where you went, if you lived in one county you went to School A, if you lived in the adjoining county you went to School B. I already knew many of the children I would be in school with, either from daycare/preschool or church. It didn’t hurt that my daddy was principle at the middle school at the time either I guess. So for the next 8 years (1st grade-7thgrade and kindergarten) I went to school with the same children. Even if we moved up a grade we only went to a slightly bigger school with children who had been at our old school the previous year. There was no anxiety about not knowing the lay of the land. No anxiety about a sea of new scary faces. Until the end of 7th grade. At that time, 8th grade was at the High School, which meant I had 4 months between me and an entire school with 4 whole grades of new people. Older people. Some, like the juniors and seniors, we’re so much older our paths had never crossed paths in other schools before. Scared? I spent the summer outlining reasons why I should be homeschooled. I did not want my independence and free spirit that my class since kindergarten had been accustomed too, to become the punch line for lunch room mean girls table talk. I also knew I didn’t ‘look’ the part. I didn’t particularly want to, and further more I knew I never would. But, of course I made it through high school. I have some bumps, bruises, and scars to help me remember, and that’s okay.
What if, when my precious, free spirited penguin looks at me and says “mama, I am a little norvous about big school”, she feels the same anxiety on some level? I know it seems I’m reaching deep for this one, and yes, it’s perfectly normal for a child to be somewhat apprehensive about a new school. Stay with me though. She has only been to daycare/preschool and church with the same group of children. Now, in the same rural town I grew up in, there are two private schools to choose from which have become quite popular among the parents. My penguin knows that some children went to a different Pre-K and come to her school for after school care. She realizes that not all of these ‘friends’ of hers, and children who know her ways are going to be going to school with her in a few weeks. To top it all off, I have to keep reminding her of all of the horrible things that don’t happen in kindergarten. No changing clothes just because you dribbled water on your shirt at the water fountain (yes, I know we have some ‘issues’), no going to the bathroom on a moments notice which also means you can’t have ‘accidents’ because you can’t change clothes. And….no naps!!! So yes, my all the world’s a stage, aka her stage, penguin is standing in front of this milestone with quite possibly some of the same apprehension I had about high school.
It’s okay baby penguin. I know more now and I know what I should have told myself then. That works out well for you since you were made from my mold. I’ll guide you as the older version of yourself and I will teach you and love you like only your mother can. We’ve got this. You. Me. Together. Let’s jump over the milestone ready to see what waits.