You know when you (or your partner) is pregnant and everyone asks you about your birth plan? Someone inevitably follows up with, "women have been doing it for thousands of years," as a (usually well-intentioned) reminder that you pushing that giant watermelon of a fetus out of your body isn't totally bananas.
The thing is, it is. It's a miracle or a horror show or somewhere in between depending on your perspective. But it's your shitshow and it's raw and emotional and wonderful and terrifying. And most of all you have no idea what in God’s name you're doing.
The same goes with daycare/preschool/preK/whatever fancy word you want to use for a safe place to send your kid while pretend to work. The first day might be tough for some; my cousin told me she felt like she might die of sadness. It was the transition from that sweet, calm infant-filled den to the Lord of the Flies toddler room that was a real punch in the gut.
Can I protect him? Can he protect himself? I don't know.
Even more unsettling is with the arrival of these buggers, you also gain a new metric by which you can measure time in a wholly different manner. Years of "when we have a kid" conversations somehow jumped to the 10 totes of clothing too small and a pile of loud, blinking baby toys currently housed in our basement. Dude was pooping his pants two years ago and is now copying the lyrics to Nilsson Schmilsson's "Lime in the Coconut". How did we get here so quickly?
Then it's time to knock it up a notch with good old Kindergarten. People mean well when they tell you that transitions aren't the worst and growing pains are rough, but your kid can tough it out. He'll make friends! School lunches aren't that bad! Square pizza, anyone?
Well, I'm here to tell you that my kid started Kindergarten three weeks ago, like twelve bazillion kids before him, and I went ahead and lost my God damn mind. POOF. Gone.
I feel as insecure as I did when he was a day old. Through what door do we enter? Can I email the teacher without coming off like an unstable parent? Will people help him open packages at lunch should he require assistance? How will they know my Sunbutter isn't Peanut Butter? WHY CAN'T I SHUT OFF MY BRAIN? The guy is five, he'll be fine. I hope.
Some things merited concern, like a miscommunication about after-school care or the fact that I didn't know he needed milk money (talk about feeling like a failure. No, seriously). But most of it was me overreacting to the fact that time is moving far faster than I previously ever conceived.
Kindergarten is just a bitch of a transition; like ripping off a super crusty Band-Aid glued on with years of tears (mine and his), projectile vomit and water-downed juice.
When it comes down to it, I miss him. It's weird to say because he's been going to school since he was three months old and we routinely drive each other nuts, but it was on our terms. All access, all the time. Controlled.
Now, it's his terms. He can share his day, or not. He makes his own choices, which I suppose is the whole point of this "raising a human being" thing. I just hope they're solid ones.
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