My four-year-old started kindergarten last week and she’s doing great. Of course she is – she’s everything I was always both hopeful and terrified I’d have in a daughter: vivacious, self-possessed, confident, personable, smart as a whip, and charming.
But I’ll admit to you, in confidence, that it took me awhile to also be doing great. That I did in fact cry a little when we saw her in her classroom for the first time at open house; that I spent the night before her first day weeping silently and scrolling through photos from four years ago, when she was a tiny pink-cheeked worm in a swaddling blanket, unable to do things like ‘move’ and ‘speak’ and ‘leave me.’
The good news is, I’m fine now! The better news is, I’ve got a fresh, hot take on how to cope with your kid starting school.
1. Make your peace with crying
I didn’t think I was going to cry. Seriously, like, I didn’t think I was gonna shed a single tear. I used to work full-time so Lucy is no stranger to daycares, and back then she went for nine-hour days. Kindergarten was small potatoes! It’s only from 8-3! It was nothing!
What hit me was the fact that things were changing – this was the first ‘next chapter’ of Lucy’s life I was hitting. Before now, she’d always been a baby to me. But school meant she’d have a life I didn’t know about, and it meant that we were officially starting the next phase: the ‘grammar school years.’ After this came middle school, and then high school, and then graduation, and oh god someone help I’m about to drown on my own tears again.
Just go ahead and strap in, friends. You’re only human – you will cry. Buy some tissues, cue the home videos of their first steps, and let ‘er rip.
2. Get them the school supplies you secretly wish you’d had
This one was helpful for me since I love shopping for school supplies and Lucy tends to like the same stuff I like. (This is called grooming.) I got to pick out so many cat-faced things and glittery notebooks that it almost made me forget that the girl who made me a mother was leaving me!!
Yeah, you knew it was coming. If it’s your only child starting school, I advocate it all the more. Take the day off work. Stay at home and languish. Drink Franzia at ten a.m. Rub their baby blanket against your cheek. Watch Youtube videos of kids falling down or something equally uplifting. You deserve this. You are having a tough day. Drink more Franzia.
4. Impulsively adopt a pet
Okay, don’t really do this, animal adoptions should never be impulsive or taken lightly. But hey, it would sure beat impulsively having a second baby, right?!
5. Know that you’ve done a great job, and you’re sending an amazing person out into the world who will make it that much better
If I could tell last-week me anything, it would be this:
Take a deep breath. Everything is going to be fine. Better than fine, actually. You worked so hard to make a kid who is happy, healthy, and above all, kind. You can’t keep that to yourself. The world needs them.
And I’m saying that to you, too. You’ve done a great job. And your job isn’t over – your baby will need you to kiss scraped knees, to listen to stilted retellings of playground antics, to explain tricky concepts like ‘line leaders,’ and to cuddle at the end of long days. And I can tell you… All of that stuff is awesome, too.
What was your kid’s first day of school like? Are you the single unicorn who didn’t cry? Tell us about it!
image courtesy of aaron