Out of the four of us, I’m probably the one that has been the most affected by Elliot starting kindergarten. During the lead-up to September I was very excited for him to start, mostly because he was so excited, and was thinking very positively about the whole thing. And the first couple of days were so easy — on day one I went in with him and we were only there for about 15 minutes, day two he went on his own for just over an hour with four other classmates and had a great time…and then came day three.
Day three was the Friday of the first week of school, and it was his first full day. Greg and I decided to drop him off together, and it was absolute mayhem. Four kindergarten classes lining up outside the front door of the school, 80 parents (myself included) hovering over their children, and noise, noise, noise. Elliot’s class started moving, he was at the end of the line and ended up being left behind with four other kids. He eventually made it in the door, but I had no idea whether he made it to his classroom or if he was lost in the big, bad school. I pictured him wondering around, crying. That was it for me. I cried. I wanted to go to his classroom and make sure he had made it. I wanted to grab him and take him home. I wanted him to be back in the small, safe confines of daycare. All day I pictured him overwhelmed, scared and missing me.
Of course when I picked him up he was happy as a clam, and we had a wonderful weekend at his Auntie’s wedding. Every time someone asked him about school he seemed very excited. I, on the other hand, fretted all weekend about Monday drop-off and was happy to let Greg do it.
Each day of week two got better, but I still felt very unsettled. Daycare is so transparent (and so small!)– you drop your kids off and you can see all the rooms they’ll be in. The teacher…make that teacherS…are all right there, relaxed and ready to talk to you. All the kids are little. School feels like a big black box. They encourage parents NOT to come inside because of how disruptive it is. I say a quick hi to the teacher every second day or so, and there are kids everywhere! BIG kids. Scary kids.
Interestingly enough, I remember feeling very unsettled when Amy and Elliot switched to their new daycare last year. So it’s not just about the daycare/school comparison, it’s about change. I hate change. My kids don’t exactly embrace it. This makes big transitions hard on all of us. But what was much clearer to me this time around was that I would get to a space where I felt like I was on solid ground again. I’m not there yet, but the more days that pass, the closer I feel. This week has been much better, and I hardly think about the kids while I’m at work.
Then there are all the positives that come from this change. I’m loving witnessing what Elliot is coming home with, just three weeks in. French phrases, French songs, methods for counting the syllables in words, learning all about Terry Fox, and much more. And this past weekend we went to the Esquimalt Lantern Festival and we ran into several of Elliot’s classmates and his teacher. After so many years of knowing very few people in Esquimalt, I can see how I will really feel a part of this community as my kids go through the school system.