Dear kindergarten teacher,
Before my firstborn son walked into your classroom, my nerves started. A boxing match of worries ensued with questions serving as the punches.
Was he ready?
Will he make any friends?
Will he me miss me throughout the day?
Will the big kids make fun of him?
The doubt never ceased.
See, when my firstborn left my arms for kindergarten, all of the baby memories flashed through my brain. I remembered his first smile, his first giggle, him sleeping on my naked chest, his first tooth—everything. That time I spent with my first child was like nothing else in the world because we went through all of those firsts together. He made me a mother. So, instead of being okay with all this "growing up" stuff, I wanted to grip onto my son's childhood and never let go.
Upon my firstborn entering kindergarten, I had no idea what to expect. The fear of the unknown swarmed me like those annoying summer mosquitoes. But my son? He felt none of my angst. He shot out of bed, got dressed, and devoured his breakfast—ready for his school debut. His first days were tiring, yes, but he felt the calming presence of his new teacher.
The first couple of months were rough after school—his little body needed a break that school just couldn't give him. After a long day, he'd come home exhausted. Yet, in the morning, he'd brag about the things he learned in school, and gush over his adoring teacher.
And as his kindergarten teacher, you helped him (and me) make this mammoth transition. No, it wasn't seamless. But you gave me great ideas to help his tired body adjust to those long days. Between early bedtimes, snacks, and letting him vedge-out in front of the TV if he wanted to, we finally figured out a decent after-school routine.
More importantly, though, you listened to me—a worried mother. You sensed my anxiety. You reassured me that my son was doing fine and was excelling (and loving) school. "He has such a zest for learning," you'd say. "He's making friends just fine." Your simple words and emails made this neurotic, first-time mother feel more at-ease than I ever imagined I could with sending my kiddo out into the world. The extra time and care you took by answering my questions helped me sleep better at night.
As the school year comes to an end, I'm getting closer to having a first grader. To my surprise, my heart doesn't ache like I thought it would.
My son has his first wiggly tooth and can now read. He's thrilled about entering sports and other "big kid" activities. He has much more confidence in social settings. And I'm learning that watching your child grow up doesn't have to mean all heartbreak for mama.
So, I thank you, my firstborn's teacher, for helping me realize that not only is growing up inevitable, but it can be really fun to watch and experience as a mother, too.
Thank you for giving me the ability to let go a little and to set my son free. Because with a teacher like you, I knew that he still had someone looking out for him, guiding him, and applauding him Every. Single. Day. And now that it's the end of the school year, I can finally say that I did it—it was scary and hard at times, but with your help, I made it through.
Just like those mosquitoes that go away with the cool fall air, so did my apprehension that came with sending my firstborn off to school. Thank you for helping me swat that doubt away.