The second week of September this year was a big one for our family. Lots of “firsts.” First full day of Kindergarten (my daughter). First PTA meeting (me). First lice scare (daughter, son, me and my husband. No one had it). These are situations I would file under: Having a Big Kid.
I went from knowing every move Z made last year at her small, nurturing pre-school with three teachers for 15 kids, to her being one of 22 kids with one teacher in K. I used to get a report about what she did or didn’t eat at lunch and if she went to the bathroom during the day (!) Now, the kids are eating lunch in the cafeteria on their own. They pee with a partner, and no one is making sure they go.
Becoming more independent. Learning to operate as part of group. Following directions and learning consequences. All good things! It’s just … an adjustment … for me.
That first week realizing I had a big kid was a bit jarring. There were lots of afterschool meetings bunched together, with big kid school-ese and information about fundraising and peanut allergies in the noisy auditorium, where the sounds of the principal on a microphone, plus the murmuring of parents, plus siblings of our newly minted elementary students were all echoing off of the walls. Lots of questions from parents of even bigger kids, about middle school and money for school band and lots of politics I couldn’t begin to understand yet. I felt like I had no idea what was going on.
And so the C word keeps cropping up. Control. And by that I mean feeling like I have none. Principals and nurses and teachers and lunch ladies and all kinds of interactions that happen to my child without my sanctioning during the day. I’m getting what I feel is very little information from or about my kid. But is this actually happening, or is it part of a larger realization that the world is moving forward and my big kid is being plummeted in? I’ve been feeling acutely that sadness and pain are now imminent for her. She’ll need to fight her own battles and deal with the challenges of big kid-dom beyond the safe cocoon of preschool. I guess I’m having trouble thinking about all the amazing things in store for her at the same time because I think I’m seeing it from her eyes, and it all seems so, well, BIG.
When we leave her every morning in class, the panic in her eyes seems to lessen each day. Maybe its more of an awareness than a panic — she seems to know that she’s in a new and somewhat uncomfortable situation where people are expecting her to be more self sufficient. We get very little out of her when she comes back in the afternoon after a full day, save for some worksheets practicing letters and notices about a library card and ordering Highlights magazine. I know she’s processing, and can see that she’s proud of her new status as a big kid. Every time another parent asks how its going, I’m forced to say its “going well,” and yet I feel a bit vague on the whole thing. That must be the realization once again, that Control is an illusion.