It’s time to let her be who she is now, dream of the woman she will eventually become and move beyond her baby life. She is ready for Kindergarten.
She stood in front of the dusty chalkboard, holding her graduation certificate, careful not to smear the chalky rainbow colors on her new dress. The skillfully written note on the board read, “Future Class of 2028.” The simple words sucked the breath from my mouth, caught off guard by the notion that my daughter’s educational career has now been quantified.
She was a preschool graduate and a week later we were hand-in-hand walking into her new school for Kindergarten orientation. Nametags were arranged on tables and we frantically searched for her name. In the back of my mind, I feared that I had forgotten some piece of her school registration. And in a moment, a teacher reached out and said, “Here it is, Estelle.”
Adorned with her name tag, we walked down a path in the gymnasium and found our seats. The projector screen said what we were feeling, “Are You Ready for Kindergarten?” We sat on the cold folding chairs and I watched as parents shifted uncomfortably in their seats. Parents nuzzling into their children’s hair, kissing dirty cheeks and with plenty of seats, most students sat comfortably on their parents’ laps.
They called the students out and in a blink they were lined up and filing out the gymnasium. “Its okay,” the principal reassured us as she watched our faces shift to uncertainty as our babies marched out with the teachers. The mom in front of me buried her head into her husband’s sleeve. I sat up, jerking my neck to try and make eye contact. And with a swift turn, and a flick of her pigtails, we connected eyes and she waved goodbye.
The principal began her PowerPoint presentation, leading us through expectations, reviewing policies and answering the questions we didn’t even know to ask. We were given paperwork and a light-hearted sheet of how to prepare our kids for kindergarten. I wondered, though if the slide asking, “Are You Ready for Kindergarten?” was more about us as parents.
Sitting there was like pushing a fast-forward button. This is what all of those wise moms warned me about. “Don’t blink,” they’d say, “It goes by way too fast.” And it had.
The sleepless nights, the return to work, daycare transitions, baby food introductions, walking, learning to share, potty training, it was becoming a blur now. But wasn’t it just yesterday? I swear it was just days before she was a squirming baby on the changing table, looking up at me, demanding my nonstop attention and guidance.
We’ve shifted from a baby to a confident young girl and it went by fast, too damn fast.
So how do I know if she’s ready for Kindergarten?
We are in a juxtaposition of “let me do it” and the reality that she’s only 5 and truthfully, can’t be trusted.
She is sassy and confident and sometimes very right and I have to laugh at her inquisitive observations.
She genuinely wants to know how the world works and I don’t know if her sweet mind can handle the weight of the sad and sometimes ugliness of our world.
She teaches her friends and siblings the lessons I have taught her and repeats my phrases verbatim and it reminds me that even when I don’t think she is listening, she is a constant sponge.
Gone are the days of reading board books to her while she sits on the potty and instead she reads to us, or at least her interpretation of the story. She offers to read while we are driving, making dinner, nodding off to sleep on the couch, or even when we try to use the bathroom.
She no longer fits in the shopping cart seat. Her preschool legs and body are too big for the seat she once occupied with stuffed blankets and germ protectors.
She does chores and wants to be the people she sees in everyday life. Moms, teachers, construction workers, she acts out the roles they play. She’s doing imaginary play, but she’s also sincere and yearns to grow up to be these people.
These are all subconscious taps on my shoulder; these moments seeing her grow up remind me that she’s ready for Kindergarten and new adventures.
I’m not releasing the memories of her as a baby, they are in the past, but they remain in my heart.
It’s time to let her be who she is now, dream of the woman she will eventually become and move beyond her baby life.
She’s ready to learn, she’s ready to ask questions, explore and challenge the world; she’s ready for Kindergarten and so am I.