Today is the day I put my little guy (and last baby) on a school bus. After being home with him and having my life revolve around him the past five years it’s time to push him out of the nest and hope he flies. I know there will be tears shed (mainly mine), but I have to buck up and give him a proper send off so he doesn’t feel scared himself. When I sent his older sister, Kylie, off to school two years ago, we started this tradition where I say, “Be brave, be kind,” and she finishes it by saying, “and smile lots!” every morning before she leaves. We will see if she is too cool for that now that she is a second grader, but the point of it was that she knew those are the only three things she would need to remember to get her through any situation at school. It’s also a good life mantra. Now it’s time to share this with Chase, and hope it carries him through his school years as well.
Over these past few days we have been talking a lot about kindergarten, and I’ve been trying to contain both his excitement – “I can’t wait to see my teacher and do the weather chart!” and his worries – “Who is going to button my pants after I go potty?” Now while I know I am the one who will need the bus stop therapy after I let go of his hand this morning, here are some other worries I tried to cover to get him ready.
What if I feel scared?
I wish I could I come with you little man, but your mom riding the school bus with you is generally frowned upon (plus your older sister would be mortified.) Also, you won’t be able to keep me in your locker. Trust me, these hips won’t fit. I know you are nervous about starting a brand new school without the old familiar routine and friends of preschool as well as the solo time you got to spend with Mama. Keep this in mind, though, everyone in your class is a rookie too! They’ll all feel jittery and miss home from time to time. Even if you are scared or sad, put on a smile. You are all in the same boat, so you may as well make a friend. Smile at a new face on the bus and ask to sit with them, smile at your teacher and hope it keeps you out of trouble, and smile at the lunch lady because it may get you an extra cookie. Give someone a compliment on their new backpack, snazzy haircut or really cool pencil box, because compliments have a way of warming two hearts at once.
What if I spill my milk?
There are so many new things to learn the first week in a new school and the unknown can be very scary. I know you are worried about having lunch in the big cafeteria. What if you spill something on your shirt or you can’t open your yogurt? Here’s the thing; if you spill, it’s ok, grab a napkin and wipe it up. Most of us are walking around as a hot mess on most days. I am currently wearing pumpkin iced coffee on the bottom of my shirt. “Ce la vie” my dear…it’s not the end of the world. We all get messy sometimes. The most important thing you can do in the big, scary lunchroom is find a buddy who makes you giggle and who has wicked good fine motor skills, because a friend who can open your yogurt for you is a keeper.
What if I feel the cry in my throat?
I hate that feeling, but we all have it sometimes. It comes with growing up, no matter how old you are. You might be working really hard on perfecting that letter “S” in your name or trying to tie your shoes and it hits you like a ton of bricks. “I’m tired, coloring in the lines is hard and I want to go home.” We have all been there! Even big kids who go to college have those moments where they wish they had an afternoon nap. Adults also miss their “littles”, and even Mommies and Daddies wish someone else could finish their coloring for them some days. Unfortunately, we all have to color in our own pictures because that is our work even when it feels like too much. The good thing is, you have your friends there with you. They can lend you a crayon if yours breaks, and you can share your Batman eraser if they need to fix a mistake. Friends are there to take the cry away when it gets hard and, when all else fails, there is always recess. A good sweat and the big kid swings can make you feel invincible yet again.
What about snack time?
Luckily, snack time is just as glorious at school as it is at home with the added bonus of getting to eat with all of your peeps. It’s like kindergarten happy hour! Enjoy!
What if I don’t get a gold star?
Listen up little man, I don’t care if you are at reading level 2 or 28 by the time you finish kindergarten. I am equally unfazed by how quick you can count to 100, if you won the relay race in P.E., or if you made a Picasso grade goldfish drawing in art. Those are all fantastic things, my love, and we can do a happy dance for any accomplishment that is important to you. But what is important to me above any academic achievement or athletic feat is that you are kind. I will be most proud if you hold the door for someone, if you respect your teacher, or if you stick up for someone who is being teased. Being told that my child is kind fills my heart with pride far more than any trophies or straight A’s you can get. So just know that, at the end of the day, I love you if you finish first just the same as if you finish last, as long as you’re kind along the way.
It’s time. You are so ready for this. I am the one who is struggling to let you go. I hope you find that your wings work just fine, Chase, even without Mama. Remember to be brave, be kind, and smile lots today…
P.S. You totally have to learn to button your own pants, dude.