Today was THE day. A big, monumental day in the mind of a mother: Kindergarten registration. I laugh as I write this because it's not even the actual first day of kindergarten, but it is important nonetheless. And, to be honest, my world is spinning a mile a minute right now.
Interestingly enough, I'm a grade school teacher. I've worked in public education for an extraordinary school district for more than a decade. I've won educator awards, held leadership roles, written curriculum, conducted staff in-service instruction in front of hundreds and recently created a website for teachers and parents connecting them to the modern world of elementary education and all of the incredible resources we have available to us.
You'd think I wouldn't need to blink an eye about today, but you're wrong.
My first son is a beautiful soul. He is playful and funny, loves building Legos and having Army battles, and also loves mooning us at bathtime. He has strengths God blessed him with like an impeccable memory and a contagious belly laugh.
He shows his uneasiness when he hugs onto my leg and nuzzles his head as a stranger walks up to us a little too fast and looks to me first before responding. When he rubs his fingers across his (usually pursed chapped) lips, I know he's nervous or lost in thought. I recently noticed I do that too, so what can I say. My son. I love every piece of him.
Today was a moment, though. He's almost ready to enter my world of expertise, and to share it with him through his lens excites me and breaks my mama heart a little bit.
I'm excited for him to be challenged and engrossed in the wonderful learning opportunities planned for him each day. Seeing him question the world around him, noticing the finer details in life that we often forget to recognize—it all makes my heart explode with joy.
Simultaneously, he's (almost) too heavy for me to carry upstairs when he falls asleep on the couch or wants to be an airplane again like his little brother. I no longer need to brush his teeth after him to "make sure" we did a decent job, and I not only long for him to help around the house, I expect it. Carry your plate over. Let the dog out. Help your brother fix this or that. Make your bed.
When I feel him on my leg as the Kindergarten teacher comes over to greet us for some basic testing I think, C'mon, smile, be you, buddy. I think, You should see him at his best, he's usually not this shy, and then it comes to the forefront: I want you to love him as much as I do.
Today, and when the first "real day" comes, I want what (I think) we all want. I want him to be accepted. I want him to love learning. I want him to know that it's a forever skill and can occur anywhere, anytime—not just within the walls of this school.
I want him to find some buddies who have similar interests. Who like to laugh. Who are kind. Whose parents are kind. I want him to be loved by his teachers. I want them to accept him for him, blessings and quirks, and help reinforce what we care about in our house—all of him. Social skills, academic success, mental health, safety. These things are important to me, they're important to most of us, and they are all a part of finding a balance.
And while my mom self would love a narrative of his daily work, his insights, his growth, my teacher self knows the reality of a classroom. If given the choice, I'd choose to have a teacher spend time being engaged with instructing kids and planning lessons and discussions versus responding to my emails and questions.
Teachers have so many incredible options available to support the core curriculum now. If given the choice, I'd rather his teacher focus on being his or her absolute best, their own level of awesome, for my son and for the entire class. If given the choice, I'd prefer their time not be taken by my desire to obtain every little detail of what's going on (no matter how much I'd love to hear it).
Every now and then, I hope my son's kindergarten teacher shows me something small to let me know that she loves him too, that she sees the essence of him as I do. And I'll do my best to support him and you from the homefront.
Today, in my mind, was THE day, and we made it through just fine. We are so fortunate to have so many of THESE DAYS ahead of us.
I know in my heart he's ready.
I know we're ready.
Bring it, kindergarten.