Jafta had his first day of kindergarten yesterday. With all of the chaos we’ve had in the last month, it really crept up on me, and I don’t think I anticipated how emotionally impactful it would be for all of us. He has been a little agitated over the past few weeks, and I wondered if it was nerves about starting school. But when I asked him, he seemed very positive and excited about kindergarten. Finally, the day before the first day, he broke down and told me he was very worried, because a well-meaning older friend had given him the following information:
- There are bullies at kindergarten
- You have to know how to do math
- There are hours and hours of homework every night.
I had to laugh about the bully fears since Jafta probably weighs double what half the kids in the class weigh. I had a little pep talk with him about math, explaining that he would be learning the math in class, and that everyone would be learning together. He seemed a bit relieved, but still had a really hard time sleeping that night. He was up several times, and finally I let him come and sleep in our room. As I cuddled up with him, I was flooded with emotion at how big he has gotten. What happened to the little baby I used to cuddle with like this? Now he is a BOY. In that moment in the middle of the night with Jafta in my arms, I started feeling intense regret over not making more of my time with him at home, and began to seriously wonder if we were really ready to have him gone for so many hours of the day. I started reconsidering homeschool, just to have a little more intentional time with him. I stared at his sleeping face and marveled at how fast he has grown from the baby we met for the first time in a stark social worker’s office in LA. I really don’t have favorites with my kids . . . but there is just something special about that first child. It was painful to acknowledge that he is entering a new stage that will move him just a little bit more in the direction of independence.
Halfway through my late-night meltdown, Karis and India woke each other up, and we ended up with three kids in our bed (my boundaries being trampled by my sappy melancholy about Jafta’s new milestone). I held and kissed all of them tightly, and cried, and it was a bittersweet recognition the brevity of life with my kids, and my desire to connect with them as much as I can in these short years. Had it not been the middle of the night, I might have broken into a refrain of “Sunrise, Sunset”. It was a sweet moment . . . for about ten minutes. Until Jafta kept kicking me in the head, and then Karis started crying, and then India tightened her death grip on my neck any time I moved. And suddenly, this tender moment became really, really annoying, and I forced all of the children back to their beds amidst much crying and drama.
I’m kind of glad I got the requisite “first child in kindergarten” weepiness over that night. I woke up with a resolve that it was going to be great, for Jafta and for me, and he woke up really excited, too. We took him to preschool as a family and allowed him to pack a wallet in his backpack to buy the hot lunch. Buying his own lunch might be the highlight of the year for Jafta. Here is the morning, in progression of emotions:
(Where are those bullies I’ve heard about?”
(Where is my friend Ryder?)
(Ryder is here and he’s in my class!)
(I am so big I get to buy my own lunch!)
(My teacher is nice AND pretty!)
(Alright, let’s do this!)
(Where’d my mom and dad go?)
(In his words: “Kindergarten is like totally awesome, mom!)