Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Heartache or Heart-Shaped Sandwiches? - by Rachelle

Many, many people have asked me lately if I will cry on Andrew's first day of kindergarten. Rightfully so. It's a good question. I've been so focused on stocking up on snacks, shopping for new shoes, and filling out paperwork that I haven't really given it much thought. Am I going to cry? Until one of my best friends asked me that question today, I hadn't really pondered it.

A book I read to Andrew the other night planted the idea in my head. It's called "The Night Before Kindergarten." Popular book. I hadn't heard of it until recently, and then that's all I've heard about. I should probably get this book, I said to myself, and during a routine trip to Target, voila! it was there. As you know, Target's book selection is quite small, and they typically have only the new-releases and very popular books there. It was facing out into the main aisle, and there were hundreds of copies. I grabbed mine.

I read it to Andrew tonight, and while it was a cute read, I wasn't super impressed with the message. I mean, I understand what the author was trying to do with it, but it planted ideas in my and Andrew's head that I wish I could un-plant! First, the book starts with the kindergarten-bound siblings in their beds dreaming of school supplies after freaking out about their first day at kindergarten the next day.

It reads: 'Twas the night before kindergarten, and as they prepared, kids were excited, and a little bit scared.

Andrew and I didn't get off the first page for a very long time. Why are they scared? he kept asking. We'd flip to the next page. But wait, go back, why are those kids so scared? Not a good start if you ask me. Then we get to the part where the kids are at school, having a wonderful time while the parents stay for a good chunk of the first day to watch. 

Look at all those mommies and daddies! Andrew says, very excited. They're standing in the doorway watching. Is that what you're going to do? I'm so excited that you'll get to stay and watch me on my first day of kindergarten! After explaining that I would not be staying, and that none of the other mommies would be staying, we moved on with a very disappointed Andrew.

Then we got to the part where all the mommies and daddies were crying because they didn't want to leave their kids. They were sad. What a ridiculous lesson! I thought. But I'm pretty open-minded and imagined the lesson the kids were encourage to be taking away from this book: go to kindergarten, you'll be fine. Great message, I agree. I just didn't love the journey getting there.

(No, this wasn't intended to be a book review post, so I'll move on.)

Will I cry? I don't know. But my immediate thought is No, I won't. 

And here's why.

Hubby texted me today telling me how excited he is for Andrew's first day tomorrow because Andrew is entering "the real world." The text was, of course, intended to be a little funny, but it's true. His classroom alone looks like the real world. There are not buckets of toys everywhere. There are maps and thermometers and a "wonder window" looking into a small room where kids discover the things they "wonder" about most (it changes weekly). There were rectangular-shaped desks with mini chairs and a huge white board with  math and reading-related stuff all around it. He's going to learn to read!

He's going to learn math. He's going to learn geography. He's going to learn not to growl at other kids when they take his toys. He's going to learn to share. He's going to learn a new level of authority. He is going to learn. If he didn't go to kindergarten, he would forever be stuck in his four-year old body knowing only what four-year-olds know. But instead, he is five, he is smart, he is thriving, and he is going to get even smarter -  starting tomorrow.

I decided to volunteer in his class every week, and tonight while Andrew was in the bath, I told him this news. Yes!! he shouted. I was so happy to see how excited he was. Then, when I was packing his lunch tonight, I cut his sandwich into a heart. You know why? Because even though he's in kindergarten, he's not ashamed for me to work in his class, and I guarantee the heart-shaped sandwich will make his day. It will not embarrass him...yet. I know that one day, he won't want to be seen with me in public. And that's okay. I will give him room to grow. That's why I appreciate the NOW...and the NOW is kindergarten.

I even printed out this sign that I know he will hold proudly for a photo session tomorrow morning. It was hubby who was a bit nervous. You're not going to make him hold that sign up at school, are you?  

No, I said, but I could! I thought. Because he's still our little boy. Our BIG boy, of course, but in the scheme of life, he's our little boy who is growing up, and I am going to embrace every moment of that. Even kindergarten. Will I cry? I don't think so. If I do, I'll be honest and write another post spilling my guts on why I did. You never know when a cry-moment will hit. It's not typically something you can predict.

So, I am making the choice, daily, to put all my heart and soul into the NOW. I will keep cutting out heart-shaped sandwiches for as long as Andrew will let me. I will not be brokenhearted over the first day of kindergarten. I will celebrate it with a heart-shaped sandwich.

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