Dear Mom of a kindergarten boy,
You are not alone.
We moms are all with you. We see you. We know your thoughts.
We know you are clawing your way through the school day, watching the clock, wondering how today is going to go. Wondering if your little boy is going to remember all the things you’ve taught him and make good choices.
Or will he bring home another Rough Day Report? Or the Sad Monkey sticker? Or whatever other symbol of parental failure that your school sends home when your little one misbehaves.
And don’t get me wrong. We know the teachers are doing exactly what they need to do. We MUST support the expectations of good classroom behavior. We must allow our teachers to expect our boys learn to hold still. And focus. And sit quietly when it’s time to do that.
We must. I know this and believe this with all my heart. This is my 4th child, this sweet 5-year-old boy of mine. I get it.
But holy hell, it is SO hard as they adjust to this school thing.
The self-doubt is shattering:
Did I send him to school too early?
Should we have waited a year?
Is he in the right teacher’s class?
Is the school all it’s cracked up to be?
Did I prepare him academically?
Did we prepare him socially?
Will he have enough friends? The right friends?
What if he only wants to be friends with miscreants?
Will he be bullied? Will he BE a bully?
Will he love school and want to learn?
Who will he eat lunch with?
Speaking of that, who will open his Gogurt container if he can’t?
And those End of Day reports, or comments from the teacher at the pick up line, do feel like parental failures when they’re not positive. They feel like all the work you’ve done to make sure your son is ready for school hasn’t been enough. “You haven’t done enough, Mom. He’s still wiggling at circle time.” “You haven’t done enough, Mom. He’s still talking at his table group when he’s supposed to be working.”
We know the teachers are doing their jobs and we know that this behavior is not a comment on our parenting. We know it is being a child. We know this in our rational heads. But it feels like we’ve failed when our children don’t behave well. It feels embarrassing.
It feels like shame.
Add to this the fact that they can’t seem to come home with a single thing you’ve sent them to school with that day. They forget their jacket every day. They lose their lunch box on Day 2 and then a second lunch box on Day 3. For heaven’s sake, I find myself wanting to label his shoes, for fear he’ll come home without one.
How is this level of forgetfulness possible?
And can we talk about the utter lack of useful detail you can get out of your kindergarten boy? NOTHIN’! My daughter, lo these many years ago, couldn’t be silenced. She spouted details of her day every day of elementary school. Unbidden and unending.
My son? Nope.
“How was school?” Good. “Who are your friends?” I don’t remember their names. “What did you do today at circle time?” Played with my shoes.
Jesus, fix it.
I am finding I can be simultaneously outraged at my son and also want to cuddle with him and tell him he is perfect and wonderful in every way. I find myself wanting to shield him from every single pain that starting a new school and a new school year can bring. Every loneliness, every hurt, every rejection. Every teacherly expectation.
And I know I can’t.
I know if I did, it would stunt him immediately and keep him from being who he needs to be. I know he needs this journey to become the man he’ll be.
And I know that it’s ridiculous to expect him to remember all his things and not have crazy energy and give me lots of details about his day. He has a penis, for fuck’s sake! My husband can’t do most of these things. Certainly not all in one day.
I know this. And I know he’s going to be fine. At least, I think he will be.
So WHY is it so hard to let him go each morning?
See? Mom of the Kindergarten boy who wiggles too much and talks when he’s not supposed to. We see you. We ARE you.
You are not alone.