Iím finding it hard to let my little boy grow up, not that I actually have a say in the matter.
This past week we celebrated the birthdays of both my children ó Kaitlyn turned nine and Ryder turned five. We threw a big party with many of Kaitlynís friends from school and a few friends of Ryderís. It wasnít hard to accept my daughterís new nine-year-old title. She seems to be maturing and growing into a beautiful young lady and the age suits her. But accepting my son as a five-year-old is harder to take.
It could be because heís my last, my baby, and I know these milestones wonít be celebrated again with another child. Iím sure that has something to do with it, but honestly, I equate a five-year-old with a kindergartner and Iím scared my babyís not ready for school.
I remember when Kaitlyn first started kindergarten. I worried she wouldnít fit in, that kids would be mean, that she wouldnít enjoy school, that her teacher wouldnít connect with her, that Ö well, I worried about everything.
When I walked her into school that first day, my hands clammy and my heart racing, she was simply overjoyed at the chance for a new experience and ready to get involved. Her teacher was gentle and loving and really seemed to care about her. Once I realized she would be OK, I started to tear up. It was an emotional moment because I realized she was about to start navigating the world without me stuck to her side.
Up until that point I had taken care of everything for her, from cutting her food to solving arguments she had with her friends. I made sure everything was safe, fair and fun, or at least I tried. But at school, she was in the real world.
Who would watch out for her at school? Would she speak up if something bad happened? Did I teach her enough? Would she be able to make friends? The questions piled up, and the answers were days if not months away. Of course she did great, likely much better than she would have done under my overprotective wing, and with time I felt better about seeing my baby become a big girl.
I made it through the tough lesson with K and youíd think I have some wisdom to apply to my sonís kindergarten transition. But I find myself again worried and nervous that I didnít do enough to prepare him during the past five years of his life.
When you think about it, five years is a pretty narrow window to teach a child all they need to know to be able to transition into daily school life.
Thankfully, there are wonderful free educational programs on the Coast like StrongStart and SPARK and Ryder has benefited from both. Heís also been to parent and tot drop-ins and his Dad and I do our best to share our knowledge and give him new experiences whenever we can.
He says he canít wait for school, and although he feels ready, I sure donít.
Luckily Iíve got about four months to get used to the idea and plenty of time to stock up on Kleenex for the big day.