Lessons from Kindergarten

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It seems like only yesterday that Gavin started Kindergarten. This year flew. Flew.

I sent him off on the bus this morning; he was happily giggling with his buddies from the neighborhood and had a stomach full of last day of school celebratory Voo Doo doughnuts thanks to an awesomely thoughtful neighbor who organized a communal breakfast for us. All week, I’ve been reflecting on how much he’s grown over the past nine months, which naturally transcended into me thinking about how much he’s grown overall. Much like the first day of Kindergarten (covered here and here and here. Geez, apparently, I was obsessive about that day), today, I realize I am again teetering on the brink of one of those parenting moments that I will likely remember forever. The last day of Kindergarten is proof that my baby has officially survived his first year of ‘boyhood’.  If kindergarten was his first foray into becoming a boy, then being a first grader is the definitive, without a doubt, steel post marker on the path of boyhood. When he was in kindergarten, there were still flashes of pre-school Gavin. As of late, not so much. He’s more confident, smarter, more articulate, but at the same time still silly and loving like he’s always been. He’s no longer the youngest in the school. And I am at once proud and sad.

As every new parent knows, a commonplace – to the point of cliché – warning more tenured parents often share is “Enjoy your little ones now – it goes by so quickly.”  And, like most (every?!) new parent / parent of pre-schoolers, I was definitely a secret eye-roller any time someone said this to me. Hahaha. I am always polite, but for some reason this statement was groan-inducing to me. I would nod and smile, but then overanalyze my momming because it seemed to imply I wasn’t enjoying it, and, really – let’s be honest here – sometimes, with toddlers and pre-schoolers, it feels like time can’t go fast enough. One terrible tantrum and you can find yourself wishing for the next phase – like the day that little Johnny can channel his emotions, understand rationale / rules / fairness, clean up his toys, wipe himself, dress himself, feed himself, etc. Yet, with a child’s growing independence, there seems to also come a sense of living in a speeding, futuristic time warp. For example, I am totally happy Gavin wipes himself now, but I yearn for the snuggly six- / nine- / 12- / 18-month-old who only had eyes for me. That seems so very long ago.  It’s a funny thing about parenting – each phase of life has its own joys and challenges, so you can often find yourself all at once nostalgic and longing for the future to see what’s next. As I sit here and type, I am thankful for those other parents warning me about time going too quickly. Today – this very minute – I realize that this is actually NOT a dig, but actually a real warning – coming from a good place: deep within the heart and soul of a wistful parent who remembers their own young ones at whatever age my kids were when they said it. So, take heed, newbs, kids REALLY DO grow up crazy-fast and you will soon be sitting there with a first grader wondering how the heck it happened. Get out there and make some memories and take lots of pictures, ya whipper-snappers. 😉

I am thankful for today. I sat and thought and pictured my kindergarten graduate at each phase of his life. The little baby who didn’t love to sleep, is now an almost-first grader who doesn’t love to sleep (too much fun to be had). The toddler who asked a million questions about toys and books now asks a million questions about things he sees around him every day. The preschooler who liked all his belongings just so still presents as a kindergartner. Only now that little soul can also read, do some math, tell me about practically every animal that ever stepped foot (or paw) in the swamp, and ask meaningful questions about the world around him.

It’s fascinating to see how this little guy is growing – taking the core of his being and building on it bit by bit. It’s an amazing process to experience – to literally watch someone come into their own time and time again, with each new phase of life. I am thankful I am really still only at the beginning of this journey. Man, being a mom is awesome.

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