A momentous day.
I registered my daughter for kindergarten today. Sigh.
I am a little choked up about this, I must say. She’s my last. The baby. She will go off on the bus to school in the fall. Join her brother in the ranks of “school aged kids.”
Yikes. What happened to my preschooler? My once clingy little shadow will be an independent kindergarten school girl in just over six months.
I know I am not alone. I think all parents eventually come to the reality — kids DO grow up. Still, it’s hard to grasp it.
My daughter is a mommy’s girl – quite the antithesis of her brother. My son would leave me in the dust for the first sign of a friend’s minivan pulling into the playground, give the kid and his whole family a Rock Star greeting and forget entirely that he belongs to another family. My girl, on the other hand, held on to my leg for dear life whenever we came into contact with anyone. Friend, family, teacher. Whoever.
As I’d try to make idle conversation with other moms at the playground, she was digging deeper, holding on as hard as she can. God forbid I was wearing a skirt as she is sure to have had her hand so far up my butt I couldn’t see straight. I pull her off and, like Velcro, she’d come right back on.
When she was an infant, her hand would automatically go to my face when I nursed her. Her need for affirmation that I was there would swell my heart until it felt it would burst with love.
Fast forward a few years to where she’d sit snuggled in next to me as close as possible when I read her stories on the sofa. During our mommy and me time when her brother was at school, meals were eaten on my lap. And she’d always reach behind me to feel my face, an act of reassurance to know I was still her mom and still within reach.
Then began the midnight visits. “I’m scared Mommy” she would whisper as she climbed up in between my husband and me. “What are you scared of?” I’d ask and receive a shrug as she promptly fell asleep. Damn I wish I could do that.
I’d watch the beautiful little being next to me knowing that one day, probably sooner than I think, she could be a teenage girl who hates me. So I fall asleep thinking it’s okay. She can cling to me just this once.
Then I’d wake up achy and cranky from being slapped by flailing arms and legs all night and think, okay, today’s the day we’ll break this behavior!
She was that little girl who didn’t want to look at anyone, especially a friendly old lady who said how pretty she is or the old man who thought she was a great mommy’s helper. He clearly didn’t see her wrapped around my thigh.
Her answer to it all. “I don’t like people. I am too shy.”
So when it was time for choosing a preschool, I had two main objectives. Just a few hours where I didn’t have her clinging on to me and for someone to lure her out of her shy shell.
When she started this year’s school, she came home a changed little girl. She loves her classroom, says her teachers are the best, loves her friends and says the best part of her day is when she’s at school. She places her bag in her cubby, chooses her job for the day, kisses me goodbye and waves me out the door. She can still be on the shy side, but there is much less of that “warm up time.”
She has grown from being my appendage to having two very firm legs of her own on which to stand. And off she goes to kindergarten in a few short months.
I’ll stock up on the Kleenex now.