First day of school fears, hopes

I’m still finding it a little hard to believe, but Miles starts kindergarten this week.

Along with that knowledge comes the sudden realization he isn’t my baby anymore, or my toddler, or my little boy, or my big boy or any of those other terms of endearment we bestow upon our children before they become, well, just plain ol’ kids.

First and last day of school 2014-15 (pre-k at St. Theresa).

First and last day of school 2014-15 (pre-k at St. Theresa).

Subconsciously, I think I’ve been carrying around this notion that suddenly being 5 and going to kindergarten means big changes ahead for our firstborn. But the signs have been there for a while.

I mean, he even said his first curse word the other day – the “H” word. And I’m not saying I condone that, but what better sign could there be that he’s ready for school?

No, really, all joking aside, there’s no doubt we are approaching a milestone of sorts, and I think it’s only natural, as parents, that these are moments we tend to reflect and self-examine. Is he ready for this? Have we done a good job of preparing him?

Miles meeting one of his potential kindergarten teachers earlier this year.

Miles meeting one of his potential kindergarten teachers earlier this year.

Honestly, I worry. He’s such a sensitive kid, and he’s also a bit of a follower. How is that going to work? The real world – even a real world of 5-year-olds – is a huge departure from his mostly-insulated life until now.

I think it’s pretty safe to say he won’t be a bully, judging by the way his not-quite-two-year-old little brother pounds on him all day without recourse. But what if he IS bullied? Worse yet, what if he takes that to heart and starts to believe that he’s somehow deserving of such treatment?

First day of Pre-K 2015 at Culver.

First day of Pre-K 2015 at Culver.

What if some second or third-grader decides to tie him to the jungle gym upside down by his beltloops? Or puts a handful of fire ants down his shirt? (these two things may or may not have happened to his dad at that age).

How do you explain to a 5 year old that, well, some people just aren’t very nice. As much as I’d like to think that adage that “violence is not the answer” is taught to every kid by their parents, we know better.

Graduation from preschool, 2016

Graduation from preschool, 2016

Preschool graduate, 2016

Preschool graduate, 2016

Let’s face it, in the real world, there is always that one kid in school who just won’t be able to understand anything other than a punch in the nose. Is he going to be able to fend for himself against those kids who will try to take advantage of him?

If I’m being honest, I’m not sure. He’s small for his age, emotionally sensitive, and he’s probably been way too sheltered.

Being sweet with his brother.

Being sweet with his brother.

These are the things that worry me.

There are other things I’m more confident about.

I know he’ll be a good student.

I know he’ll listen to his teachers. (He’ll also talk, a lot.)

I know he’ll be super-nice to other kids, his artwork will be 100 percent refrigerator-worthy and he’ll make a lot of new friends.

funny

And I know he’ll be walking in that first day with enough glue sticks and boxes of Kleenex to sustain the Russian Army for six months. (seriously, though, 24 glue sticks? What in the world are they going to do with that much glue?)

But most of all, I know we have done a good job as parents. We’re certainly not perfect, but he has grown up in a house full of love and warmth.

And hopefully, in the real world, that will be enough.

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