I registered my oldest son for kindergarten yesterday. On the surface, it’s just some forms to fill out, some documents to hand over, and a preliminary oral exam to assess his readiness. It’s not a big deal at all. I had already completed the forms online, so when I showed up to hand over our documents and have him tested it took less than fifteen minutes before we were back out the door and on our merry way.
But that’s on the surface.
Emotionally, this was a big day for me. My son is ecstatic. He loves school. He loves to learn. Reading is his love language. And when we got to the school he’ll attend next year and saw they had not one but two playgrounds, he was pleased as punch. I put on a brave face.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m so excited for him. I’m excited for me, too. We survived the preschool phase together and are moving into “big kid” territory. Part of me was ready to do a happy dance right along with him as he finished his test and was told he was more than ready for kindergarten and they couldn’t wait to see him in the fall. Big kid school will be a new adventure and we’re both thrilled.
Or, one and a half of us are.
Half of me still wants to hold him tight and keep him with me. He’s my first baby. I’m not ready for him to be a big kid yet. I was fine with him playing Little League. Soccer and baseball are fun for me to watch and I’m there the whole time. I was fine when he started going to preschool two days a week. This is different somehow. I can’t explain it. I did my best to prepare him for this milestone, but now that he’s reached it, I’m terrified. And happy. And sad. And proud.
Kindergarten is complicated.
My own mother died when I was very young. One of the vivid memories I still have of her is of a day when I walked into the kitchen for breakfast before school and found her eating cold pizza and drinking a Coca-Cola. The look on her face screamed, “Eat your cereal and don’t judge me.” To be fair, I was the youngest of four children and my mother was a teacher, so school mornings were always chaos. I have no idea what had happened that morning before I came into the kitchen, but whatever it was, I’m certain it justified her choices.
This morning, I got my children dressed and double checked that my documents were in order and everything I needed for my other errands was ready to go. Then I opened the fridge to see to my own breakfast needs and saw a box of leftover pizza. It was like a message from my mother.
Maybe that sounds crazy. Maybe it is. But that’s how I felt. It was like she was speaking to me this morning, telling me to calm down. It will be okay. This is normal. And if you still needed to fortify yourself before facing the world, a little cold pizza couldn’t hurt. Though, I did at least warm it up.
When we got to the school, the teacher who came to greet us and help with my son’s readiness test was the mother of a girl on his soccer team from last fall. Once again, it felt like a message. Calm down. He’ll be fine and so will you.
It was still an emotional rollercoaster of a day, I won’t lie. But I realized that life has come full circle. Now I’m the mom eating leftover pizza for breakfast before heading to school. And maybe my son will remember that. Maybe one day, when he’s struggling with something, he’ll open the fridge door and be comforted by the sight of leftover pizza. I was.