I just loaded my 5-year-old onto the bus for kindergarten. I took him yesterday to orientation, and met his teacher and now today he is going to school all by himself. It’s quite the parenting milestone, though I wouldn’t say that the days have flown by. Indeed, I’m not sure I remember life before Jasper. It seems like a long time ago that we brought him home to our 1-bedroom apartment in New York and put him in his crib in what used to be the dining room.
I do remember that around that time I was trying to figure out what direction to take my writing career in. I’d had a book come out not long before Jasper’s birth (Grindhopping, if you’d like to check it out) that did not particularly succeed in the marketplace. The publisher declined to buy the follow-up. I was kind of starting from scratch. But I found myself fascinated by the issue of time, and how I thought differently about it once I had to be accountable for it. Over the next year and a half, I wrote about this issue a lot as I watched Jasper grow. My musings became 168 Hours — a book that owes its existence to this little boy.
He’s become quite a remarkable kid (of course, I am his mother…) He writes words all over everything, both real words and ones he thinks should exist but don’t (oh do I know that feeling — but I am not nearly so daring with putting made-up words into my articles, alas). While hiking in Shenandoah, he announced that he loved doing math problems — it was his favorite game! — and demanded that I give him more problems like 26 take away 12 while we were on the trails and in the car. I hope that school will nurture this love of reading, writing and math rather than squelch it. We’ve tried to do what we can, exposing him to lots of interesting things at home, and moving to a district known for its schools. But putting a kid on the bus for kindergarten is a reminder that, eventually, the child has to make his way on his own.
In other news:
Speaking of making your way on your own, I always love Lenore Skenazy’s Free Range Kids blog. She had a piece in the Wall Street Journal this week on the strange phenomenon of parents following the school bus to school — something it really never occurred to me to do….
Another insight this week on the romanticism toward parenting that’s soon lost in the reality of parenting. People talk about not wanting to miss milestones — not missing that first step, first word, etc. Better to scale back your career for a while so you don’t miss these things! Well, here’s something I had to miss no matter what I’d cut out of my life: at least one of my sons’ orientations at a new school. They were held at the exact same time yesterday morning. Fortunately, my husband was able to take off from work to go get Play-Doh on his dress pants with the almost-3-year-old, and I hit the elementary school.
If you dislike my approach to planning weekends, Grumpy Rumblings of the Half-Tenured has a “deliberately controversial post” about why I am full of it.
My friend Emma Johnson has started a blog called Wealthy Single Mommy. She writes about being the custodial parent of two preschool aged kids while simultaneously earning big bucks. I can already tell this blog is going to be fun.
And check out How to be Happier at Work. 8 simple steps! The comments feature some interesting tales from people working with real grumps. I’m fascinated by the boss who kept a list of people who’d slighted him over 20 years.
11 thoughts on “Off to kindergarten!”
Your approach to planning weekends works for YOU. The only part that’s in disagreement is the pushing it on everybody and not understanding why some folks would want a day off from planning. Too much of anything can turn it from fun to a chore or obligation.
Re: not remembering life before the kid – there are *so* many memories I have that I sort of “assume” T was there for, and then I realize it was a trip we took 3 years before she was born, etc. So weird how that works.
@ARC – I think about trips and think “who was caring for the kids?” and then remember we used to just take off. Crazy times.
Oh man, I know. Though we weren’t able to travel spontaneously for a while since we’ve had dogs. But it’s a lot easier to just book them at the kennel or get a dog sitter on fairly short notice!! 🙂
Our first day on the bus is Monday. We’ll be sharing this milestone together!
@Twin Mom – good luck! Take lots of pictures! It really is exciting, and Jasper just had this huge grin on his face getting on and off the bus.
Yeah Kindergarten (is it all day!?) for the working mom lucky enough to live in a good public school district. Someone who has been through the working parenthood juggle in middle class America should write a blog post of the mixed feelings and general sense of relief we feel say at 8:10 a.m on that first day of kindergarten… Childcare included in the property taxes … go figure ! I’m sure it is bittersweet and might make you want to try for 4 but probably you feel a tremendous sense of relief from the juggle.. then of course there’s still the 3 to 6 p.m. window and the entire summertime !
@Cara – only half day here! But he’s got like 14 kids in his class with 2 teachers– glad our property taxes are paying for something!
I will say that sending him off to kindergarten does not make me want to try for 4.
Our kindergarten is a full day- from 9 to 3. So we’re still paying for before and after care, which is about $450 a month. So our public kindergarten is making the cost of child care go down (by more than 50%) but not go away.
You know who says ‘they grow up so fast’? People who don’t have little kids. They forget all about the constant need, the three year old smooshing her face into your clean shirt, the screaming melt downs over Lego destruction. I love my kids, but I think it would be nice of people with grown kids to acknowledge the exhaustion that accompanies the little ones. Also, isn’t it possible to have a good relationship with adult kids? I look forward to hanging out with my girls when they are grown. Sorry, bit of a tangential rant there, but yes, sending them off on the bus is quite a moment.
I have never, ever said to any young mother, “Enjoy every minute of it–they grow up so fast.” And I still remember resenting it when others said it to me! I am so glad we had children and I thoroughly enjoy our adult children–and our grandchildren! Life is pretty easy at this stage!
( from Laura’s mom!)