Finn, my youngest, my baby, started Kindergarten this month and I have to say, it caught me off guard. It’s not like he didn’t warn me; he’s been on a development binge this summer, checking off milestones like he’s going for a record: Lose first tooth, Learn how to tie shoes, Master riding a two-wheeler.
It’s been the summer of: Wow, Finn, you did it.
But still, seeing him don his first non-superhero backpack (“I’m ready for a big boy backpack”) and head off to “real” school, it suddenly felt like the last five and half years slipped through my hands like water. Or maybe Capri-Sun.
Every single day is so filled with making meals and giving out hugs and settling arguments and driving to soccer practice and holding sleepovers that it seems odd that five and half years could seem, in retrospect, like about five and a half minutes.
I’ve had about two weeks now to adjust to my new life as the mom of two “big kids”; Finn is the special “VIP” at school today and for sharing time, he is demonstrating for the class how he ties his own shoes, complete with a crayoned how-to diagram. It brings me to the first thing I learned about parenting since Finn has gone to Kindergarten:
Make sure he knows how to tie his shoes.
I can’t remember if my eldest knew how to tie her shoes when she left for Kinder, but the fact that my little guy, despite the advances of Velcro and whatnot, is capable of lacing up a pair of Chuck Taylors, makes me feel as though he will be just fine. In Kindergarten and in life. This might be an overestimation.
Trust that you’ve done enough.
When my husband’s car pulls away from the curb to take them to school in each morning, I want to run after it – to remind them of something, or to dole out a last kiss, or to make sure the homework has made it safely into the backpack. But the last few weeks, I have held fast, steadying my neurotic mommy heart. After all, I tell myself, if I’ve been doing my job of growing responsible, loving small people, they can make it through the next few hours without my hovering.
Take lots of pictures.
I take lots of pictures already, too many, really. But these, of his first day, I will never forget: http://bit.ly/PsJPqy
And then stop taking pictures. Just stop and watch.
When I put the camera down that first morning, I could pull Finn to me, nothing blocking my way. I could tell him how much I loved him without distraction. And when I picked him up at school later that day, I had my hands free when he spotted me at the other end of the playground and ran straight into my arms. I didn’t need a picture of it; I lived it.