The Kindergarten Crazies
Watching your child start kindergarten is tough. If your child has been home since birth this stretch of time away from family can seem terrifying. Your child might be scared, too. Even if your child has been in day care since he or she was a baby this transition to compulsory education makes for a striking reminder that time marches on. Your baby is not getting any younger. The days of him or her at home are numbered.
I am not here to write a sappy, heart wrenching post about sending my little one off to kindergarten although most of you know I sure could do that and I would enjoy writing every word. Maybe another day.
Nope, I want to talk about another aspect of sending your beloved off to school.
I want to talk about what I call catching the “kindergarten crazies”.
I’m not talking about the child. I am talking about the parents.
I became aware of this condition when I witnessed myself go through it. It was as though I was standing outside myself watching as I became this controlling, anxiety ridden, crazy person. I would see my actions and hear the words coming out of my mouth, be astounded at what I saw and heard, and, try as I might, could not stop myself.
As I prepare to send my third child off to kindergarten I am hopeful that my kindergarten mom craziness has waned somewhat. Looking back on my own experience of sending my first off to kindergarten here is a list of things to watch out for…red flags that you might be catching the kindergarten crazies. People, you know these things are true…you hear these statements from people with little kids ALL of the time…sometimes from your own mouth. I am only pointing them out because I can PROMISE you that I have done or said any and all of these things at some point in my parenting journey.
1. You find yourself investigating every school option there is in your community because your child is special and you want him or her to have the best.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing this. Here is part of what I think is going on. We feel a little out of control when kindergarten rolls around. We have been in charge of every moment of their life for about five years by now. Our investigating of all the school options empowers us as parents and helps us feel as though we have some sort of control over this situation.
When I caught the “kindergarten crazies” I tried to get my daughter switched out of the school zone we were in. Looking back it made no sense at all. It was a sheer control move on my part. I thought by doing SOMETHING I was doing something GOOD.
Thankfully, God intervened and the request to cross zone was not approved. I cannot tell you how much we adore our current school. It was the school I went to when I was little. If we had switched zones my daughter would have missed out on having MY first grade teacher. I had this precious teacher for her FIRST year of teaching first grade at our school and my daughter had her for her LAST year of teaching first grade at our school. How special is that? All of the teachers have been amazing and have loved my children so unbelievably well. Last year my sister-in-law was hired as part of their faculty and our long time babysitter was an interim teacher.
Look what I could have messed up and what my children would have missed if my plans had gone through.
Please know that I DO think that there ARE times to beat down doors to get into the schools you want (or get in line at 3 AM for the preschool that you want…which I may, AHEM, have done myself).
2. Related to the first item, you find yourself saying this over and over to people: “Well, you see, she is just so advanced. I want to make sure she isn’t bored. We just don’t know if “insert school name” is the best choice for OUR family” or “I’m just afraid his teacher won’t realize how smart he is.”
What you mean here is that your family is better and more intelligent than average and for that reason you need to be very selective in your choice and the school available to you might be fine for everyone ELSE, but maybe not for you, because you are…special…and really smart. We all know that is what you mean.
We all think our children are some of the smartest, gifted children out there. We need to keep believing these things and to be their biggest cheerleaders, but we also need to temper our pride with some humility, social skills, and the realization that there are a LOT of smart and gifted children out there. It will be good for our children to realize that, too.
3. You hear yourself making the following observation: The day is just so LONG! I’m just afraid that he or she will be exhausted.
This is a valid concern, but at the same time we often underestimate our children. We can step in and remove obstacles that are growth opportunities for them. SOMETIMES, other people believe in our children’s abilities more than we do. We continue to see them as babies (and some of doing that is a good thing!) when others look at our children and see competent, resilient, creative, hard working individuals. Our children often rise to this vision from others so I am very thankful for how they see my children.
4. You worry obsessively about exposure to “evil” and say things like: “I just can’t control what is being watched and listened to in the homes of those other children!”
“Those other children”. Sigh. Because we all have it together in our own homes for sure.
Again, probably a valid concern. Here is what a wise woman told me as I was working hard, but unsuccessfully, to hide my own case of the kindergarten crazies: “You have conversations. Lots of them. They might be exposed to things before YOU are ready, but you keep talking. We’ve been fine. I think you will be, too.”
Here is what you need to remember. Your child is going to pick up on your attitude. If you are excited about the start of this new adventure, then he or she will be, too. If you can acknowledge normal fears and worries while at the same time dream about what the future holds and how kindergarten offers a new world of learning and experiences…your child will learn to hold all of those varying emotions and communicate about them, too.
The transition to kindergarten is a big one. It changes the structure of your family. By attending school new people, new experiences, new relationships, and new information is injected into your family life. All of these new things WILL have an impact on your family system.
That’s not always bad.
So, class of 2027…here we go!
***Since writing this about a month ago our family has found out that we will be moving to a new location before my third child starts kindergarten in an entirely NEW city. Sigh. I am probably not over the “kindergarten crazies” yet, but I am still hoping I can follow some of own advice here!
Photo credit: Brooke Auchincloss/ONOKY/Getty Images