Thursday, August 16, 2012

The first day

Today was my son's first day of Kindergarten - well, half-day orientation, but close enough. It was the first time he met other children in his class and spent appreciable time with his teachers.

The whole operation went as smoothly as it possibly could have. Dropped him off; no tears (he seemed a little anxious until the tall, pretty blonde teacher asked him about his Transformers backpack... She won him over in seconds.) Picked him up; all smiles. Unprompted, he even told me about part of his day: he colored in an apple picture and cut it out, and he ate lunch in the cafeteria. Given that he's always been reluctant to tell us about activities at his preschool, I took this as a sign that he's excited about his new experience.

A few months ago I worried about him going to Kindergarten: he's so shy sometimes... Would he be okay? Would he be able to stand up for himself if someone picked on him? Would his learning be totally test-oriented? Would the kids get enough science, art, and playtime? Would someone hurt him, and if someone DID hurt him, would he tell me? I really worked myself into quite a frenzy and was well on my way to becoming the poster mother for Helicopter Parenting.

In late April all of those concerns veritably disappeared when we went to the school to pre-register him. He fell in love immediately: with the library stocked with computers, books, and comfy seats; with the music room filled with drums, xylophones, guitars, and other instruments; with the bright, colorful Kindergarten classrooms; with the computer lab.

I fell in love with the school, too, mainly because it reminded me so much of my own public elementary school: not at all fancy, very diverse in terms of student population, down to earth, warm. If I have one academic-related wish for my son right now, it's that he enjoys this part of his educational journey as much as I did. For me, school was a source of comfort and consistency, a place where I couldn't wait to be every day because I knew I'd be doing and learning new things. Every morning was like Christmas. My teachers played a critical, vital part in shaping not only my knowledge base, but my sense of self-worth and self-confidence. Even now, I can still remember the names of each one of my K-6 teachers, and I think of all of them fondly because they were so kind to me. They made me feel like I could do anything.

With my son starting grade school, I am reminded that it is perfectly okay for a village - not just the parents - to help raise a child. In my own life, I don't know where I would be now without that village. My son's childhood is different than mine, but nevertheless, I want him to develop bonds with people - adults and kids - other than us. No one person can be everything for someone else, not even a parent for her child.

ETA: 3-mile run followed immediately by 1-hour "ballet class" = I can't bend my arms. Or legs.

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