Thursday, August 28, 2014


He's only been begging me, for six solid months, to let him go to kindergarten. On the day he turned five, exactly half a year ago, he asked if he could go to kindergarten the very next day. I explained that he had to wait until the next school year started and you'd have thought I'd told him to go pick up dog poop AND drink poison because, depending on the day, his reaction to either of those commands might be the same. He was unhappy, is what I'm saying.

When he finished preschool he thought kindergarten would start the next day. He was not pleased when it did not.

Finally, I (stupidly) told him that he would start kindergarten AFTER vacation. Well. When we arrived home from vacation on the second day of August and he did not start school on the third day of August, I was once again in the mother of all dog houses.

And then, to rub salt in the wounds of his perceived injustice, the most horrible thing happened. Garrett started school a week ago and Matthew did not. I had to show him on a calendar exactly how many days he had left and cross them off, one at a time, until last night.

Because kindergarten started today. Because the teachers spend the first week testing the incoming students to assess where they're at. Matthew had a half hour appointment with his teacher on Monday and then he had to wait EVEN MORE DAYS. And, listen, I have been WORRIED about him starting kindergarten because, while he's as ready as ready could ever be in terms of academics, he can be...a handful when he chooses to be.

Take his testing day, for example. I know his teacher. Garrett had her. I substitute for her more than I sub for anyone else. Matthew went in weekly last year and read to her in the hopes that we would avoid his handfulness where she was concerned. Still, he decided it would be fun to shuffle step everywhere, make squeaking sounds instead of speaking English, and inform her that he was a girl when she asked him to show her which bathroom pass he would use. Mind you, he did all of this while I was giving him my very best stink eye. Apparently he did calm down for his one on one testing but when I asked him why he chose to behave like that he informed me that he was, "just being silly."

Last night, at Back to School night, we chatted some about him. She said she really wasn't worried, she appreciated parents who know their children aren't perfect (AND DO I EVER KNOW THAT!), and that she thought he'd rise to the occasion.

And rise he did. (Not that he won't also fall from the occasion and talk back and maybe even burst into tears from time to time because Matthew is...passionate, we'll call it.) But for today anyway, he rose.

He woke up and he was JUST SO EXCITED. There was smiling and pleasantness and general merriment. I asked him what he wanted for breakfast. I'd have given him the world--if he'd asked for it--on this, his first day of the rest of his life until he is 28 and graduates from med school. He opened the pantry and pulled out some cereal. "That's what you want?" I asked him, prepared to whip up an omelet or a smoothie or waffles or what have you.

"Yep!" he smiled

Pretty soon, we were off to kindergarten. I'm not gonna lie. It was so much easier for me to leave Matthew there today than it was two years ago when I left Garrett. I am not the type to blubber or even cry just one quiet tear but watching Garrett disappear behind that door took some getting used to. This time around, I know his teacher. I substitute at the school. I walk the halls. I felt like my child would be safe and secure and have fun and learn AND DEAR LORD, PLEASE JUST LET HIM BEHAVE HIMSELF.

We pulled up and that kid put his backpack on and walked himself right over to his classroom. He lined up where he was supposed to. He was all, Goodbye, parents. I've got this. See you when I graduate from med school. When the first bell rang, I walked over to him, bent down and said, "Can I give you one more kiss?" Let me just tell you, if looks could kill, there would be a chalk outline of my body right there on the kindergarten playground. He frowned and bent his chin down so that there was no real way I could meet my lips and his. HIS EIGHT-YEAR-OLD BROTHER STILL KISSES ME SO I WAS UNPREPARED FOR THAT PARTICULAR SHENANIGAN. "Fine," I said. "I'll just kiss your head." And that's exactly what I did. Because I'm his mother and it's my God-given right. Or something.

And then I climbed up on the playground equipment because it was a much better way to fit all of them in the photo and (mostly) avoid all the weepy women. This shot was nearly impossible to get because as soon as all the moms were standing away from their kid, one of them would decide that she JUST HAD TO RUN BACK IN FOR ONE MORE KISS OR HUG OR PICTURE OR "OH MY BABY HOWEVER DID YOU GROW UP SO FAST?" And, sure, I feel the same way because, for real, HE WAS JUST BORN. But heck if I'm going to stand there in front of all the other parents and require a crowbar to separate me from my child.

His teacher came out and they disappeared behind the door.

And then, several hours later, I went to pick him up. 

He was the first one in line and his face looked stoic. I was momentarily petrified that my worst nightmares had come true. He'd wall slammed a kid. Or he'd cut someone's ponytail off with the scissors. Or he'd squeaked all day long. When he got to me, I asked him how his day was and, after a moment's pause, he thrust his fist up to my eye level and I saw the coveted Good Behavior Hand Stamp. We fist bumped and I heaped positive affirmation upon him.

He told me he made tons of friends and had a great day. He handed me all of his papers, one at a time, which took 132 minutes but was adorable nonetheless. He shared where he sat and what they'd done and that he LOVES KINDERGARTEN. As he walked up the stairs to put away his backpack he said, half to me and half to himself, "Kindergarten is SO fun. There is not a minute that is boring. Not one minute. It is all fun, fun!"

Fly, little bird. Fly. 

All the way to med school. Or wherever it is you might be headed...

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