Joey’s first week at school has been awesome. He only had to go three days in kindergarten because kindergarteners in our district start on a staggered schedule. His first day was Tuesday and then he went again yesterday and today.
This week has been an extreme exercise in patience for all of us, but as far as Joey and kindergarten? They go together like peanut butter and jelly, peas and carrots.
We met his teacher last week and I had heard nothing but good things about her prior. She was ethusiastic in greeting him and we were very excited to meet her and her teacher assistant. But this week brought Joey’s first bus riding experience, his first experience being in a school with kids that are bigger/older than he is, his first time going through a cafeteria line and so much more.
Because he’s not in Shelby’s snug-cocoon-like environment, I feel much more like I’m throwing him to the wolves. Even though we love the school he is at and the administration and his teacher. I’m still not over the anxiety yet.
As he gets on the bus each morning, I say a million things to him, “Be a good friend, make good choices, always be honest, tell the teacher if someone is bullying anyone else, don’t forget that check I gave you for lunch (he forgot to give it tothem yesterday), be kind to everyone, that’s the most important thing…” I would have hoped to have taught him all that BEFORE kindergarten but, I freak out he’ll forget it all (well, not the lunch money thing, he never had to deal with that before). At least I hear his bus driver greet him and talk to him but I have to hope everything goes well from that point on.
And it is hard. Painfully hard. Once those doors close, he’s in someone else’s hands.
And that’s when it’s prudent for me to remember he is ALWAYS in God’s hands. God is in control. Not me, not the bus driver or the teacher or principal, God. And I have trained Joey up as best I know how and pray he does not depart from it when I send him out into the world whether to school or on a play date or anywhere.
The fact that his first day of school was the feast of St Monica was not lost on me. How does a mother do what she did? Endure what she endured? But we all do it when we have to. A mother’s love knows no limits or bounds. It just is. And part of a mother’s love is learning to let go when she sees her child growing, particularly when he is growing in a healthy and productive way. At the end of the day, I have to trust he’s learned the lessons we’ve taught him and will remember them as he goes out into the world.
This year, I haven’t just sent him off to the big bad world of elementary school, I’m also sending him to Faith Formation classes. We are still his primary educators but we have a bigger pool to draw from now at school for his academics and at Church for his continued formation as a human and Catholic. I believe it takes a family to raise a child but our community can be an important supplement to the formation of adults that are moral, compassionate, and not jerks in general. And the community I am in both in terms of education and faith, happen to be two of the best.
So, I know, I shouldn’t worry. He’s in God’s hands, God’s in control and God provided us with this amazing community to supplement what we are already doing. But, like Monica, I am always his mother and he is always my baby. So worry I will sometimes. And one of these days I will worry less. And someday (hopefully soon) I will realize I don’t worry anymore and will laugh at myself today. But until then, the growing pains of being the mom to a kindergartener continue. As I continue to let go.