Farewell Kindergarten

My Dearest Kindergarten Graduate,

The day I sent you off into your classroom for your first day of Kindergarten, I stood in the hallway that smelled like old books and fresh pencils with the other Kindergarten parents. We smiled and hugged you guys and said, “It’s going to be so great! You’re going to make so many new friends!” What you don’t know is that after you were inside, and we were instructed to move along now, we all went out for coffee and cried our eyes out.

I cried for a lot of reasons. I didn’t think my precious baby was ready for the full days away from me, having been a pretty constant companion of mine for the first five years of your life. And I wasn’t sure you were up for the challenge yet of sitting in your desk, listening to your teacher, and doing school work. Keeping you at the dinner table until you’re finished eating is plenty difficult. Mostly I cried because I knew you could do it, because you were such a BIG KID all of a sudden. You were not my baby anymore. Sending you off to school was one of those moments where I feel like I’m watching you grow right before my eyes.

I went to pick you up that afternoon, and you had on a paper bracelet that announced “Kindergarten is fun!” And you were jazzed to go back the next day. You had made a bunch of new friends already, and you had done some really fun things that you proceeded to tell me about for the remainder of the day.

You’ve had a few hiccups along the way, but overall you have done so well. You soared academically, and made amazing strides socially, strides that a year ago when you were graduating preschool, I’d never have guessed you could have made. You’re not a real fan of homework, but who among us is, really.

So, we bid adieu to Kindergarten. It was a fun, exciting, challenging year full of new adventures and new horizons. Congratulations on completing the first of your 13 years of schooling. May first grade and all the grades to come be as magical and empowering and fulfilling as Kindergarten was for you.

I love you so much, and I am so proud of you!

Mama

 

Kindergarten

Today we finish up the first two weeks of Kindergarten. I’m still having a hard time believing I’m an elementary school mom now (PTA membership and Room Mom days on the horizon and EVERYTHING). But, I’m sure by the end of the year, after all the packed lunches, morning announcements, Pledges of Allegiance, permission slips and homework that it will all feel natural to me.

The Friday afternoon before the first day, we were able to go see the school, see his classroom and meet his teacher. He was very shy at first, and a little hesitant to even go into the classroom. But, once he started seeing his name all over the room, and once he found his cubby and desk, it was like he’d been going there all his life.

There have been some…behavior issues. But his teacher can already recognize that he’s triggered by lots of commotion and noise, and being with a lot of kids at once. He’s completely fine in the classroom, even sitting nicely at his desk or on the rug and listening when she’s talking. It’s lunch and recess that give him trouble. And it’s largely a product of him reacting to what other kids are doing and saying, much more so than in preschool where he was often the one starting stuff. I’m not going to worry too much about it right now, he’s still adjusting, and so are the other kids. Instead I’m choosing to focus on the fact that he’s behaving in the classroom. A year ago I’d never have thought he could do it.

When he gets home from school, we have the typical “what did you learn today?” “I don’t know.” conversation. But, then if I just sit and listen, as he gets to talking, I find out that he painted, played Mr. Potato Head, saw preschool friends at recess, went to the gym, had a music class, went to the library. He’s definitely becoming a full-fledged elementary school kid. And loving it.

Brave

Today Bowie had to go to the pediatrician for his 5 year check up, which also involved getting shots and tests done so his doctor could fill out this very official looking yellow sheet of paper for the school district.

My first plan of attack when I made the appointment was to stay mum on the subject of shots until the moment of truth, so he wouldn’t get scared and nervous and all of that. But then yesterday during summer preschool circle time, it was announced that a fellow Kindergarten-bound classmate had gotten her shots that very morning, and could everyone please be extra gentle today.

Bowie asked me, “Do I have to get shots too, mom?”

Oh geez.

“Well yes, buddy, actually tomorrow.”

And then he commenced to completely freak out for the rest of the afternoon, through the night, and into this morning.

“I’m NOT getting shots!”

“I’m sorry, but you have to.”

“No I DON’T!”

“Well, then I’m sorry, you won’t be able to go to Kindergarten.”

“Ok, fine, I don’t want to go to Kindergarten anymore!”

Over and over. Lather, rinse, repeat.

This morning, after long talks about bravery and camaraderie (all his friends will also be getting shots) and hugs from mom and permission for Fox to accompany us to the doctor, he finally announced about 3 minutes before we had to walk out the door that, “Ok. I will go.”

He did great while getting his blood pressure taken, and getting measured, and getting poked and prodded. He told her he was nervous about the shots, and they talked a bit about it. Up until this point, I thought there were only 2 shots, but he also needed a TB test, which counts as a shot I suppose. So, he was a bit perturbed that there were three pokes and not two.

BUT THEN.

She’s like, “Oh, I see here he needs some lab work. He hasn’t had any done since he was a baby so I suppose we should take care of that today too.”

Hrm.

We leave her exam room, and she gives him a book as a special reward, and she tells me to sit in the waiting area and the lab technician will call us back in very soon.

So we go back out and he’s on cloud 9, thinking he’s done. But, I say no, we have to wait, hang on. We read his new book, and then they called us back in. And he asks with a very worried look, “Why are we going in here?”

I sat in the chair and put him in my lap, as she requested I do, and then I whispered, “You need one more shot.”

It was an unexpected poke in an unfamiliar room from an unfamiliar (albeit very friendly and sweet) medical professional and suddenly…he was sobbing on my shoulder. “I don’t want this shot mom, I REALLY don’t want this shot.”

Oh my good HEAVENS was my heart breaking for him. (And also secretly I was loving that he was needing me so much in that moment!) But then, she inserted the needle, he sat back, and even had a LOOK at it (something I’ve never been able to do) and he said, “Well, that didn’t hurt so bad. I guess I was really brave!”

He’s sad and sore, but he went to school today. And it’s all over now.

And my brave boy gets to go to Kindergarten.

 

Five.

Bowie crawled in bed with us at 4 a.m. on his birthday, something about bad dreams. And when he woke up, he turned to look at Brien and the first thing out of his mouth was, “Am I five now?”

He has been looking forward to being five since the day after he turned four. And the day finally came. It was a bright, sunny day, perfect for celebrating a birthday. AND for graduating from preschool. Yes, these happened on the same day. After graduation, we skipped grad parties and drove around in Brien’s VW (aka Daddy’s Race Car) through the park and past the beach. Then we took him out to his favorite neighborhood restaurant for a cheese quesadilla, spanish rice and refried beans–his ultimate meal. After that, we walked to the beach, played with one of the two sets of stomp rockets he got as gifts, and caught a gorgeous sunset. It was a whirlwind of a day for all of us, but in the end so, so joyous and amazing.

Saturday we had his birthday party at our house. It was a rock and roll themed party, so things got fairly hectic. If anyone reading this was around to witness my Mommy Meltdown, I have to apologize to you. Retrospectively, it was a really awesome birthday party, but to have to deal with messes and preschooler arguments and where the pizzas will go and when we will do the cake, all while kids are hitting drums and cymbals as hard as they can, well it can really take the wind out of your sails.

Sunday was The Big Show for his second session of Rock Band Land. He killed it. All the kids killed it. So awesome. I’m actually sad that Bowie won’t be taking it again until September, it has an amazing effect on him. We went to pick him up after rehearsal and he was as chipper as can be. And he sat (mostly) quietly in my lap for the whole show until his performance. I can’t remember the last time he willingly sat still in my lap. And because he loves music and his rock band so much, we decided his big present this year would be this:

Dearest, sweetest Bowie,

I look at you today and I am amazed. You’re so far from baby or even toddler. You’re a bona fide kid now. You’re all limbs and smiles and blonde hair.

You’re super sensitive, and the world doesn’t always understand you. On top of that, you have been through a lot in the past year, but your moxie is still shining through.

You were diagnosed with SPD, just over a year ago. Which on the one hand was so helpful for all of us to know, and we are working to get past it. But on the other hand is so difficult to know and to deal with. I never wanted you to have the sensitive childhood I had, and it breaks my heart to see you dealing with too much sound, too much light, too much touch. Life is hard enough without the extra troubles. But, I can tell you’re a lot more resilient than your mama. And now that we know what’s going on, we can tailor your world for you.

This year, you also became a big brother. Which I know was very difficult for you. To go from being the center of everyone’s world to having to share that spotlight with someone else. But you’re a champ. And that little brother is already looking up to you with some mega admiration. I hope you can and want to set great examples for him in all of your life.

This year you also started Rock Band Land! You have been having SO MUCH FUN making music with Brian and Marcus, and performing at the Big Show. We’re going to look into getting you lessons for any instrument you want–even drums! It was one of the best moments of my life to see your reaction when you first saw your new guitar. You had an amazed and bewildered look on your face, and you turned around and gave your daddy a giant hug, and then gave me a giant hug. And you said thank you over and over all day. You also ran to your room and hand selected a toy for each of us from your collection to say thanks. It was so sweet!

There’s a very, very sweet boy inside of you that I wish the world could see as much as we do. I wish I could walk by your side for the rest of your life to help explain your “bad” and “erratic” behavior to people, but I won’t be able to. But today, I remind myself, you’re only five, and I can still help out for now. We’ll keep working on it, and we’ll get there someday.

My litte rock star. So excited to turn five, so excited to start Kindergarten. Excited to grow up to be “an astronaut. Or a race car driver.”

Future’s so bright, you gotta wear shades.

Five is climbing the dunes at the beach by yourself. Five is not always having to hold hands to cross the street. Five is electric guitars and remote control cars. From where I sit, five is going to be pretty awesome.

Have a great year buddy, I love you.

Mama

 

Prologue

I’ve been putting off drafting Bowie’s fifth birthday blog post for some time now, knowing full well it will make me cry. No matter how I try to frame it–I’m sad you’re turning 5, I’m happy you’re turning 5, I’m indifferent you’re turning 5–I’m going to cry.

MY BABY IS TURNING FIVE.

AND THEN MY BABY IS GOING TO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.

And it’s all happening very soon.

This past weekend, we bought Bowie a new bed. He was still sleeping in his toddler bed, which was just his crib turned into a toddler bed. So, we got him a proper bed for a kid. Because he’s not a toddler anymore, he’s a kid. (Sniff.)

In the spirit of things, we also got him a booster seat for the car, and gave Ferris the car seat. Ferris was of course still in the infant seat, the kind that snaps into the stroller. The stroller that, devastatingly enough, Ferris is big enough to ride in sans infant car seat. So, he’s in the big seat now. And Bowie is in a booster. The kind where he wears the regular car seat belt.

(SNIFF.)

I’m hoping these small graduations are going to somehow prepare me for the upcoming big GRADUATION.

Though I know I will be a puddle of tears on that fateful day. I have cried at all of the preschool graduations that my son was not a participant in. Our preschool is a coop, so we really get to know the kids, and watching them all graduate and move on is just too much. So, when it’s my own kid…

…UGH.

Parenting is hard. So hard. But by far the hardest part about it is watching them grow so fast right before your eyes. You have a baby, then you blink and you have a Kindergartner.

It is also really fun to watch them blossom and change and become the little individuals they are inside. And you watch them do something amazing, like write their own name or play the drums or apologize without being asked to and you’re dumbfounded: I made that.

So when I’m scrubbing peanut butter out of the couch, or picking up the same toys for the 100th time, or nursing the baby for the 4th time in one night, I keep reminding myself: this will all be over someday. It will all be a distant, blurry memory. But I’ll miss it.

The first night as a teenager that they miss curfew. I’ll be wide awake, waiting to hear them come in. And I’ll miss holding that soft head against my cheek at 3 a.m. I’ll miss hearing them sing preschool songs with their tiny voice. I’ll even miss potty training. Yes, even that.

So, as we settle into May here at the Wankel homestead, Bowie’s last month as a preschooler, I am just reminding everyone to slow down and enjoy this. They’re only little once. And for such a short time.