Photo: Ain’t that the face of a little boy thinking about getting himself into trouble? This post isn’t actually about Minor, but I saw this in my pictures from the day and had to share. Lordy, this child…
There was a playdate yesterday for the kindergarten. An invitation for parents of incoming kindergarteners to come to the school and play on their new playground, maybe also choosing to play with their new classmates as well. This is really more for the parents than it is for the children: the anxiety feels firmly rooted in us, and seems to have very little to do with the children themselves…or at least that’s how it feels to me.
I admit to feeling anxious. Ya’ll know that I have a problem with this adult stuff. I suck at introductions, I suck at making friends. I was grateful to have two other moms who I sorta knew (remember how I had those mom drinks last week?), be there so I had someone to talk to. I was that horrible person who didn’t deviate from them, smiling and nodding to a few other parents, but not formally introducing myself. I know! I’m really awful. I’m really bad at that. I hate doing that. I know I’ve gotta get better at it!
There were looming thunderstorms in the area. It was late… you know, close to dinner time (5pm), not to mention prime time for afternoon commutes and what not… maybe that’s why so few people were there. Certainly those are good reasons why there were no other families of any sort of color there, right? Totally.
It was all I could do to keep the boys from running through the parking lot as soon as they got out of the Blackmobile. They held might hands right up to the sidewalk and then they were off to the races. “Wait!” I said to them. “Why don’t we try to be cool? You know, walk up and say hello like civilized people instead of charging right up?”
They slowed their pace, still far ahead of me. But with each step, their speed got a little faster, and a little faster, until finally they were sprinting. School! Playground! New friends! Major was yapping the entire time, mind you. Playgrounds, of course, are in the back of the school, he informed me. This is where I’m going to get to play every day, he told his brother. After he rides the school bus to school, of course.
I know that I’m taking Major’s readiness for kindergarten for granted. This is a child ready to go, ready for the challenges ahead of him. I don’t really know how I got him here, but I know that there are equal parts luck and blessing to go along with the hard work from birth to now. I watched this boy, taller than the kids on the playground, confident in his strides, happy to lead and happy to follow, head into the Playground Playdate like he owned the joint. Not because he’s bossy, not because he’s a bully, not because he’s overzealous or overconfident. He walked into it like he owned it because he’s just so freaking ready for it. There is no better place for him, no place he’d rather be.
I don’t know if he’s going to thrive, I know that there will be rough days ahead of us, I know that this journey will be excruciatingly long while shockingly short… I have limited control over what happens next, but I know where we are right now. We’re at the starting line (not really. But this is the “official” one.) and my kid is standing at it, ready to go. Thanks be to God.
So why am I second-guessing myself?
Because he doesn’t know that we’re the small fish in the big pond. But I know, and it sucks.
I didn’t really enjoy the playground playdate. When the thunderstorms came, I was delighted to skip out early. I ran into another mom at guitar lessons today–she was one of the moms with me at Prescreening at the very beginning of the summer. She recognized me as we were leaving.
“Are you doing full-day or part-time?” She asked me. It’s always a funky question.
“I decided to go full-time. He’s ready and I’m ready. Why not give him the opportunity?”
“Oh,” this woman said with a sigh. “We’re doing half-day. I just… I’m not ready. I’m just not ready!”
“That’s legit,” I mumbled, half truthfully. I believe that both choices are the right choices.
We stumbled through other pleasantries. Then I went in another direction. “There was a playground playdate yesterday. Only a handful of folk came out because of the rain.”
“Oh! Was that yesterday? I wasn’t paying attention. I’m just in denial! I really have turned off my mind to it. I’m telling you, I’m not ready yet!”
“Wow, you must be having a really great summer,” I said. Now look, I’m not saying I could control my face or my tone. I hope it didn’t come out as a full sneer.
“I mean, we really are,” she said in all seriousness. “I’m seriously trying to squeeze every moment out! I just want one more month of summer instead of starting school again!”
I can’t really pinpoint what about it annoyed the hell out of me. Maybe, actually, I’m a little bit jealous. Maybe I want a bit of that consistent, unabashed joy. Maybe I want to be able to tell people that every part of my summer has been precious, every day perfect, the whole summer full of happy memories. Maybe I secretly worry that I’m going to look back on these years and honestly think they passed by too quickly, that I didn’t give the boys enough of my attention. Maybe I will always wonder if I’ve done this all wrong, that I’m not doing this job as well as I could be.
So I found a deep dislike for this woman in that moment. It was the last thing I needed in a long day of mothering. So, I was ready to go. It was time to go before I got myself into trouble. So we said our goodbyes and said nice things like, “looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks.” But I was really thinking to myself, as I locked my two boys in their car seats, is this really how it’s gonna be? Please, Jesus, don’t let this be how it’s gonna be.
I came to the conclusion that this isn’t how it’s gonna be. Like preschool, I’m about to encounter a cast of characters on a spectrum of personalities and perspectives. It will take a while to get used to. As the small fish, the new fish, my job is to acclimate to the water temperature and figure out how everybody else swims. It won’t be long before I’m part of a pack and the anxiety falls away. Breathe, relax, be cool. Maybe even enjoy the ride. We’ve worked hard for our place here. Let’s make it count.
Oy oy oy… it’s Wednesday. Only Wednesday. But tomorrow is Thursday and I can’t believe it. I have so much more to accomplish between now and the end of the week. Oh, Dear Reader! How will we get it all done?
Hope you’re doing better than I am. You probably are.
I’ll see you Friday for Quiet Thoughts.