I was totally prepared and not at all ready!
For five years, my friends have nudged me along the path of new parenting with a gentle reminder that I would eventually have more time to myself. "Before you know it, she will go to school and you will have half a day without a little voice and continual requests." So the summer before Kinder arrived, I jumped into the preparations with the zeal of an old lady who just found the fountain of youth. When the enrollment process was announced, I was the sixth parent to complete the book of paperbook, provide documents of proof that could have allowed me to earn a CIA clearance and obtain the mountain of dead trees describing everything from the school's motto, websites, (you cannot be parent of a school age child today and not own and operate skillfully a computer) to the advice of how to spend the rest of your summer in preparation for kinder. I thought getting my first born ready for college was trying, but this was a much higher hurdle at my osteoporosis knee age. I ran from store to store and completed the supply list by early June. It almost took a late mortgage payment to purchase all the brand name crayons and paper products, requested today, but bought, branded with her name and bagged it by early summer. I began to read to "S" several books on going to school. All discuss the fears of kindergarten and all end with a cheerful child loving the institution and eagerly wanting to go for the rest of their life. We practiced some sight words and played a game to learn to count to 100 so she could be confident and unabashed for the first grading period. Cute and fashionable clothes were the next priority. Since this has never been a skill or strength for me, I am lucky that she seemed to look cute in everything! Finding shoes that would look good with skorts (skirts with the shorts attached, I am learning the new lingo), but could still be worn in the gym was a challenge. Deciding that tennis shoes can be worn with anything, especially if they are blinged, we were ready for the next major purchases -the backpack and lunch box! I could not believe the choices and cost of these items! When did two boxes that will be dragged, thrown, and packed till they bulge suddenly become so costly? "S" chose two that oozed of pink, puppies and swirls of color over brand, so I did not have to cash in a savings bond over this necessity. The prerequisite list was checked off by July and now all we had to do was enjoy the rest of the summer and wait for "Meet the Teacher Night". We dressed like we were two twenty year olds traveling to the big city and walked into a beautiful new campus to the sights and sounds of pure chaos. Parents, children and siblings were elbowing their way to the assignments of teacher and students. Parents, teachers, helpers and vendors lined the hallways, cafeteria and classrooms. Shouts of organization filled her new home, "go the the hall on the right and take the third left to her classroom, put her supplies in these bins, sign up on the volonteer sheet, pay into the cafeteria account, decide if you want an afterschool activity, purchase the school spirit shirt, take notes on her bus route if interested." By the time we left, our clothes were disheveled and I resembled a deer in headlights. I was totally prepared and not at all ready. I spent a good part of the weekend completing forms and signing my signature. The first day was a blur, but the following days reminded me of General Schwarzkopf's quote-"Prepare for the worse, hope for the best". I was going into battle and was not at all ready! I was not ready to let go of her hand among a swarm of weepy babies, a smiling teacher face and a cubby to house her possessions. I was not ready for her to tell me she was ready to walk the hall alone to go to her classroom. I was not ready for "S" to tell me that she wanted to ride the bus home or that her teacher is pretty and smart. I was not ready for the valley girl shrug of her shoulders as she announced that she is a big girl now and can do more things alone. I was not ready for rushed mornings in the dark and grumps from a very tired child in the early afternoon. I was not ready to be the cheerleader and not the sole caretaker. I was totally prepared with checked off lists and intellectual acceptance, but not at all ready for the emotional adjustment of letting her go and watching my baby walk into a building of countless halls, rules and demands so confident, happy and without me!
Garden Ridge, Texas