I am happy to report that I survived the first three weeks of kindergarten! I know, its not exactly like I deserve a medal. But my daughter did not make it easy.
I’m no stranger to the whole adjustment to kindergarten. The last time I went through this was three years ago when my son breezed through the first two weeks of kindergarten, lulling me into saying things like, “Daniel loves kindergarten! It’s been so easy!”
It wasn’t until week three that he decided he’d had enough and had the mother of all meltdowns. His screams could be heard throughout Dunwoody and possibly beyond as we walked to school with him attached to my leg, shrieking.
But somehow, the drama with Sarah felt new to me. Week one was bad. She was moody, sad and tired. It’s not easy for a little one to be woken up hours earlier than she’s used to and to have a strict and structured bedtime after the easy, later nights of summer. Add to that following rules for seven hours a day when you’re used to four hours of preschool playing and it’s a recipe for misery.
Still, while it wasn’t the greatest week, I felt hopeful week two would be smoother. I was wrong. On the second week of school, Sarah really upped her game. There were lots and lots of tears. There were wails of, “MOOOMMMYYYYY IIII WWWWAAAAANNNTTTT YYOOOOUUUUUUU!!!!” as she held onto me with the strength of five men while I tried to make a hasty but loving retreat from her classroom. All this while what seemed like every other kindergartner sat happily and calmly in their seats watching the spectacle.
Midweek, just when I thought I couldn’t take another moment of this, when she started sobbing the moment she woke up and had to be forced into the car and forced out of the car and forced into her classroom, and my nerves were frayed and my emotions laid bare, she came out of school and announced that from now on, there would be no more tears. And so far, she’s been true to her word, skipping happily into her classroom each morning.
And while it felt awful at the time, I can’t say her reticence was unexpected. But what did take me by surprise was the feeling of loss that I experienced. I knew, of course, that i’d be nostalgic for a day or two. But I’m having a much harder time with this than I thought I would.
After just a few weeks of school, Sarah seems older to me as she confidently navigates the hallways of her school and greets new friends and teachers I don’t know. And I am left to wonder where my baby went. She’s now a little lady, my son is a third grader and I’m a mom with two kids in elementary school and it just feels weird.
Don’t get me wrong, I love watching my children grow and seeing them change. But it’s bittersweet as well. I miss my babies. And I have to redefine my mommy role now that they’re both in school. That, I suppose, is a whole different column. And I know that one day, I will look back on this time and miss it as well!
Lauren Menis is a Dunwoody mother whose column appears in The Crier each month. You can reach Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org.