(..because it is..)
I was the first person at Scarlet’s kindergarten registration on the first day. And before I knew what I was doing, I was shuttled into the middle school, given a name tag to slap onto my chest, and was seated at a round table with the registrar. And Des.
I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath and my heart was pounding somewhere near my throat. I felt slightly sick. It’s true that I had just lugged a nearly 30-pound boy on one arm through the bitter wind, through a maze of a school and into a back classroom, but it was more than that, of course. It always is. I was feeling the growing up, fear of change, transitional things.
There’s a big difference in this world between anxious and non-anxious people, and I realize it’s not such a clean split down the middle. Some people are situationally anxious, and those situations and symptoms can vary. Some people are non-anxious as children, but fiercely anxious as adults. Or vice versa! Some people seek treatment that works. Some people seek treatment that doesn’t work. Yet other people treat themselves from the delights of this world – laughter, hugs, Yoga, puppies. Babies, too.
Some people are anxious about many things, but it manifests itself in non-severe ways, sometimes barely detectable. Or like my mom, she could be occasionally sleepless or checking and re-checking her belongings in repetitive ways at the airport, but hey, she can fly without feeling nervous butterflies and anxious hornets. Cassidy? I just so envy his ability to just..do things. Simply.
Without the nervous song and dance. Without the nervous thoughts and the sick stomach and the headaches. Just do it. Simply.
And Scarlet. She is up for anything. You can surprise her at a moment’s notice. You can change your plans at the last minute without breaking her heart. She just bounces into the new and the adapted. She fits into several molds. There’s not usually a song and dance, although, there is a nice Mama-clutching, jump-into-my-arms around strangers type of thing very often.
She fears new people sometimes, but she doesn’t have a lot of fears for new places and experiences.
Me? The jury is still out. Anxious people and non-anxious people – maybe we don’t always understand each other. I wish I could just do things. Jumping in without a parachute. An arsenal. A toolbelt of tricks that include music therapy, aromatherapy, hugging Des therapy. A life without a purse stuffed with Rescue Remedy pastilles, and catching stolen lost breaths in alleyways or between the car and an unknown open doorway. A life without blasting “Safe and Sound” before dental appointments?
Actually, scratch that. I never want a life without blasting “Safe and Sound.” That sounds too…safe and sound.
Maybe it’s ok to live with the nervous tingles and anxious shivers and all of the sensations that run through my body nearly daily. Sometimes it’s friendly butterflies. Sometimes it isn’t. Whatever it is, it’s who I am. I wish I could lessen the hard symptoms, but sometimes, I can just do that. I can do all of the things I mentioned. I can write lists. I can tell you why I’m freaking out.
You could tell me why you’re freaking out.
Letting go is the hardest part.
And this is why I’m freaking out. This is why kindergarten is such a gosh darn big deal to me:
1. It’s the first step in letting go. And the days in which I feel like she’s all mine seem numbered. Sure right now she has preschool but it’s only three days a week for four hours at a time. And it’s closed for all vacations, snow days and holidays. There are long stretches of time of just knowing we can do anything and go on any adventure we feel like going on. We can spend three days in New Jersey or an afternoon with cartoons. I love that possessive feeling. Call me selfish, but I earned this. I went through the trials and tribulations of pregnancy, labor and the baby stages. There will be challenges throughout life but I’m in it. I’m here. I am putting my life and time into shaping a being who grows like water through my hands. This is our time.
2. It’s a big lifestyle difference. It will be five full days a week, which is quite different from the three half days I mentioned above. I remember when she was briefly in daycare, they were almost cheerful when I called her out sick. Even in preschool, they are flexible about occasional days off. Not to mention, if I feel like pulling her out to go to Florida or New Jersey or just a fun party, that’s not frowned upon at all. It’s not like she’s missing homework and exams! (not that kindergarten has those things, but skipping is probably more unwelcome) We will actually have to be..shudder..ON TIME. (I think?) If preschool is our big dress rehearsal to her education, we are missing our lines! It’s hard for me to get her to school on time and with all of her spare clothes, lunch, toothbrush, snow gear, etc. I will definitely need to be more prepared next year, for her sake and mine!
3. It’s the start of her formal education. Yikes! I remember being in kindergarten and being told, “This stuff won’t fly in first grade!” And so on! Until college! And really, it all flies and none of it flies. You can find ways to goof off for life, if you’d like. Beyond college. In the workplace. So when is the year that matters the most? Never and always. There are always second (and third and fourth) chances, but learning patterns and confidence develop early. Kindergarten is a huge milestone. In that first year, kids develop lasting attitudes about school, learning and people. Teachers matter. Peers matter. Everything matters.
4. Kindergarten causes me to question my own mortality. It causes me to feel like I’m aging. It’s one thing to have young babies. You can still feel like a young parent, or you’re just too sleep-deprived to even really notice anything outside of your own fog. My kids keep me young, and if they are getting older, doesn’t that mean I’m getting older too? At what point, do I stop being a young parent? At what point do I stop being a parent of young children? You may laugh and tell me that much bigger obstacles and experiences are coming. And I know that to be true, which is why I worry so much about my anxiety about kindergarten. I tend to think if I pay my dues now, they will pay off in the long run. I tend to think I make things into a big deal because I care.
And that won’t change anytime soon. That won’t ever change.
And 5. I was sad in kindergarten. A year past my father’s sudden death and a new blended family right when I started.. Confused, sad and silent. It won’t be like that for her.