I registered Jack for Pre-K today. Well, I added him to the list of other kids who want to attend public school Pre-K in August. While there is no guarantee that he will get in, we should hear soon whether or not he is accepted to one of our schools of choice.
I missed the mid-January deadline for registration. I have a lot of excuses for why I missed registration. I am from a small town that had only one public school so I didn’t understand the process. It was a miscommunication on the website. I had just had a baby and was not getting any sleep. Or maybe it’s because I really didn’t want to do it and I was dragging my feet.
Jack has been in a two-day-a-week Mother’s Day Out program for three years and I have been fine with it. No, I have been very happy with it. He loves his school and Ben and I love it too.
When he first started, they worked through his meltdowns at drop-off. They were a rock and source of normalcy for him in year two when Ellie was in the hospital and things were so upside down. This year, they have been helping him get used to the transition of a new brother, something that would affect him more than I anticipated.
His moving on to big school is scarier for me than I thought it would be. Going to school five days a week, the majority of the days in the week, means that he will be spending more time with strangers than with family.
This school year has been fun because when I pick him up in the afternoons I get to hear about his day. Before, he really didn’t have the words to tell me what he did, but now he tells me who got in trouble, who he played with, who his friends are and how he played games that they made up. He is excited to tell me.
Spending time with him is one of my favorite things to do. He is curious and develops stories that require active participation. I love to hear what he has to say because the words he uses and his view of the world is so creative. While his moodiness and non-stop questioning can be exhausting, his naïve creativity more than makes up for it.
The other morning, he got in bed with me and started in about the giant sea turtle that was swimming above us. She was looking for her babies in the bed and we needed to help her find them. I was sound asleep when he started this story and I was really hoping that I could just turn on cartoons and he would let me sleep a little longer. Instead, the groggy “uh huh,” “ohh” and “hmm” that I gave him was not enough and was met with, “No, mama, stop saying that and talk to me with your mouth.”
Yesterday, in the rain, I had to stand in the parking lot at Ellie’s school and hoist the very heavy tyrannosaurus rex and carcharodontosaurus on to the top of our car so that they could ride home with us. Their babies and a rabbit all loaded into the back hatch. I appreciate that the other parents who saw me just played along and didn’t call DHS because of suspected alcohol use.
I can remember that I have not been ready for any leap in development Jack has made. Every stride he makes towards being a big boy is hard for me. I threw away his potty-training sticker chart this week – he hasn’t needed over six months – and cried to Ben about it later that night.
My father-in-law often jokingly reminds me of how much time I have left with him before he goes to college. Today it was all I could think about as I was walking back out to my car after filling out the paperwork and turning over copies of his birth certificate, immunization record and proof of residency. I only have 15 more summers or Christmases with him before we are buying bedding for his dorm room.
Are we rushing this by putting him in school every day? Does he need 4K?
Of course, my first reaction is to second-guess it. I want him to go to school, learn and find his own way. I also want to be able to keep him home if it’s raining and we just want to watch Planet Earth all day or to go on a treasure hunt at the river. I am scared that I will lose out on these times that we have enjoyed so much.
It is so easy for parents to get in the way. Especially me. It is easy for him to overhear me talk about my fears and for him to take them on as his own. I see so much of my own fear in him. Most of these things that worry me are about me and not about him.
I am more afraid of him growing up and leaving me than I am about his ability to succeed without me. I know already that he is capable without me and that is exactly what I want for him.