Not all that long ago, The Narrator openly and verbally rebelled against the idea of going to school. We would mention pre-school and he would have a conniption. This worried us a little bit, since he had grown up virtually by himself. Sure, there were playgroups, and story time at the library, but most of his days were spent with mommy. We were terrified that he was becoming maladjusted and antisocial. He took the “Don’t talk to strangers” thing so seriously, that added to the list of people he shouldn’t talk to were family and friends as well.
The kid would take 20 minutes to warm up to his own grandparents some times. About the instant we worried that we were in trouble with him- he flicked a switch.
“Mommy, I think I’m ready for school.”
Just like that. Four years old and ready to make his way. This was late in the summer of last year, and my wife went ballistic trying to find a pre-k or preschool that would take him. We finally found one, which turns out is an amazing institution which reversed his shyness and built upon him a set of social skills that I am not worried about when his time comes to enter Kindergarten. He’s no longer terrified of people. He’s become social and outgoing, not to the point where I’m worried about him chasing after an unmarked van for promised candy, but enough that I don’t see him hiding under a blanket under a teacher’s desk later on.
He starts Kindergarten this fall.
My little man will be five years old in just 19 days, and in a few months, he heads off to begin his full-time career in school. We all know how it can be an emotional time for parents, but yesterday it hit me already. And I mean it HIT ME.
I didn’t weep or anything, but I felt myself getting a bit morose, especially since I was sitting at my work desk doing very little of any value. I couldn’t help but think that I’ve been missing so much. My myriad of jobs has me out more than in, and when I am home, keeping my eyes open is a struggle, or I’m tacking down domestic errands. I honestly and truly feel like his growing up has snuck up on me, and while I stare my rapidly growing little boy in the face, I can hardly remember what it was like when he NEEDED me.
I know, based on certain cultural and gender stereotypes, I’m supposed to be stoic and quiet about his entry into school this fall, but I’m not going to bother with that. I’m probably not going to bawl on the front porch when the school bus picks him up, but can bet your ass I’ll be waiting like a puppy at the window in the afternoon when he comes home.
One of the most rewarding things about being a parent is watching your kids develop to the point where they can think and act for themselves. But that very same blessing is also a trial. Especially when you’re not there all the time to watch it, and especially when you realize that they’re developing and evolving beyond the need for you to be there at their elbow every second of every day.
I woke up this morning and started getting ready for work. As I came out of the shower, I heard tiny voices. Peeking into the living room, I see The Narrator wide awake and playing with his toys, nice and quietly to avoid waking anyone up. He greeted me cheerily, which made it so much harder to walk out the door 20 minutes later for work, having been around him long enough to get him a drink and kiss him goodbye. The boy is starting to make headway into becoming his own person, and every time I pull out of the driveway, I hope to God that I’ve spent the time I’ve had with him wisely enough that when he starts to spend all day at school with brand new people, any influence I have had on him will be positive.