Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I've Got the First Day of Kindergarten School Blues

We made it through the first day of kindergarten. I'd like to say at least it won't get worse, but I have a sneaking suspicion day 2, when he knows exactly where he's going and he's got after school care it just might. I should have known when last night he said he doesn't like his teacher because "she shot him, with a gun" things would not go smoothly (she didn't, really, he'd met her once and was quiet but gave her a high five.)

It's a wonderful school, friendly parents, a warm and outgoing teacher, a room full of sweet kids, and one miserable little kinneygartner. Even though I've been through this before I still felt just awful, once again wracked with guilt. With preschool it's part of their job to comfort a crying child, sort of, maybe, I think. But as a working mom the guilt still overwhelms me on those initial days and weeks of adjustment to a new school. Since this is kindergarten I theoretically don't have a choice (I know, homeschooling!), but I could "redshirt" him, I mean he's not even five. So in the heat of the moment I just let loose with threats, uh, promises of taking him back to preschool. Please don't let that come back to haunt me.

He cried and clung to my leg when I left and when I picked him up less than three hours later, he said "After all the kids got back from the bathroom I finally stopped crying." Not sure how to take that. He was not actually crying when I left, although I literally tiptoed out after staying the promised "12 minutes" per our deal. I did hear later a couple kids in other classes were crying (no clinging, though) but at the time I really wanted to ask someone in "authority" if this "is allowed?" Is part of kindergarten readiness "being able to leave mommy without crying and running after her." My kid can tie his shoes, count to 20 in two languages, write his name, remain calm after asking his brother for the 16th to please give back the car and tell and endless rambling story with dragons and houses and a family just like ours.

I felt even worse as one of the mom's at our "future kindergartner" playgroups assuring other parents that their kid would not be the youngest, although I was comforted to see mine would not be the smallest. An August birthday? That's old compared to my kid. Don't worry, I said, you can't decide solely on age. Actually, not being involved in many playgroups lately, and even with all I've read about it, I was amazed at the number of parents who are waiting to send their kids to kindergarten. One mom was sure that her son, with a February birthday, would be the youngest. Another was the only one in her playgroup to send her 4YO to kindergarten.

So okay, better late than never I turn to the internet. Surprisingly, I found only one kindergarten readiness list that mentioned separation, and the link was all about toddler separation anxiety. This line really killed me: "The fact that your toddler makes such a fuss when you leave shows that she loves you." Yay! Sigh, that doesn't really help. Even part 9 of Polk School Readiness (I know, 9 parts!), which is on Social and Emotional Development didn't mention this factor.

My husband's response, "he'll get over it." And now that I think about it, we'd go through the same thing at a new preschool, and probably again if we waited until next year. So I'll get past this too.


  1. Your husband is right. He will get over it in time. Transitions are hard for little kids, so he would probably do the same if you took him to a new preschool. We had about 4 or 5 4-yr olds in our kindergarten class, and they all did fine. I was more ticked off at the 7 year olds who were a head taller than everyone else and bored out of their minds because their parents redshirted them.

  2. There is an awful lot of maturation that occurs between the first day of the school year and the last day of the school year. I bet your son will really surprise you with how he grows and develops over this year. Try not to panic, even though the beginning of this wild ride seems scary, in the end, I think you will think it's a big thrill and be happy you took it together!

  3. This is such a hard decision for every parent and it'll be different for every child. What I've come to realize is that you know your child better than anyone and you can decide the best what's the right thing to do. Good luck! :)

  4. Congratulations on making it through the first day. Beckett is already telling me not to leave him at school. I fear that I will start to cry. Beck is a Jan. birthday, s older, but still really attached. Let me know how day 2 goes for both of you!

  5. You'll be fine. He'll be fine.

    What's the worst that can happen? Yup, that happened to me: my son was expelled from Kindergarten after only two weeks!

    And... I survived.

    You'll be fine. :)


  6. Oh no... I am so sad for you... and your guilt! That is so hard to leave him there and worry. He's smart, and definitely can keep up. I am sure you are doing the right thing by sending him. But doesn't it break your heart anyway. Please let me know when it ends, so I can have some faith when I send my 'young' 5's too.

  7. Hey thanks so much everyone. And Karianna, that is just wrong.

    He's said he won't cry tomorrow, although I've heard that one before. Also since it's Spanish Immersion I can't even speak to the teacher, but all your kind words help and we'll make it I'm sure.