4 Reasons My Child Didn’t Cry On the First Day of School…And One Reason I Didn’t Either

posted in: Kids, Parenting | 19

When you have a child starting Kindergarten, the first day of school can be rough…for both of you. In the case of my son and me last year, it wasn’t just the first day that left us emotionally raw. The first month or so was a delicate balance of getting him pumped for school while also honoring his feelings of trepidation, all the while disguising my own sadness. I lamented about the experience being like A Tale of Two Kindergarteners, where I wished for the confident little boy he was at home to trade places with the quiet, unsure student he was at school. Eventually, that did happen in most respects, though tears found their way to the surface at various points throughout the year.

So I wasn’t sure what to expect on Michael’s first day of school this year. Due to being a summer baby, he is entering Kindergarten again…or what we are calling Kindergarten 2.0 at our house. He is at a different school this year, though it is one he is very familiar with, as it is the one his big sister has attended for the last four years. I was hoping that fact alone might be enough to make him feel more confident going into this school year, but I felt certain of nothing. This is a kid who has cried over getting dropped off every year since he began preschool at the age of two.

But this year when the first day rolled around, not one tear was shed. Not one hint of hesitation made itself known. The minivan door slid open, and he popped out with little attention to the fact that I was sitting in the driver’s seat, holding my breath. In fact, I’m not even sure he told me goodbye.

Who’s kid is this? Well, I’ll be. That’s MY kid! Finally, that same boy I live with at home, who has no qualms about going over to the neighbor’s house without telling me first, has shown up for the first day of school. And I am very proud of him.

I can’t help but wonder what made the difference for him this year. I have a few hypotheses:

1. Maturity. He is clearly more mature than he was last year. I know this because instead of quietly whispering, “I want that,” about every.single.toy advertised during a commercial break (even J·Animals, The Wearable Stuffed Animals), he only wants two-thirds of them. Such discrimination and restraint shows great cognitive development.

2. Uniforms. Now that he is going to Catholic school, he doesn’t have to worry about having the latest movie character on his apparel, because he never does. This year all the cool kids are wearing white polos and navy shorts. Did I say all the cool kids? Because I meant just all the kids. All of them. Fashion crisis averted.

3. The Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack. My husband and I tempered Michael’s disappointment in being too young to see the movie (and not getting a Guardians of the Galaxy tee shirt…see #2) by getting him the soundtrack. It is an “Awesome Mix, Vol. 1” of kick ass 70’s music, and it has been on almost constant repeat play in our minivan. My kids have taken a special liking to the song “I’m Not In Love” by 10cc, mostly because of the weird interlude where a lady starts whispering, “big boys don’t cry.” Well, maybe that was just the kind of subliminal message he needed right before school started.

4. His Own Personal Sherpa. Last year, my little guy was navigating a new experience all on his own, something he rarely has to do as the second child. But this year, he has a lifeline in his sister. That lifeline may argue with him in the car all the way to school over who ate the last Pop Tart. But suddenly, when faced with joining the chaos and uncertainties of a new school year, this happens:siblings

Now what about me? How did momma fare on her son’s second first day of Kindergarten? Well, we know how it went last year. I was a mess. But this year I followed Michael’s lead: not one tear. I have my hypothesis about that, too:

1. I Get to Pretend He’s Not Growing Up. Yes, he may have actually turned another year older. But sending him to Kindergarten again lets me pretend that didn’t happen. This is likely the only time that the beginning of a school year doesn’t mark the advancement towards one of my kids leaving the nest. I can’t stop my daughter, who is now officially halfway through grade school. (Gulp.) But Michael? I get one more chance to have a “first” with him. Last year, Michael starting Kindergarten hit me hard. I suddenly felt like the childhoods of my children were slipping through my fingers…and I had been stupid, wishing their little years away. But now I have another chance to hang up a few more hand print paintings, to get report cards without real letter grades, to pick him up from a classroom that still has play centers…to cherish his little.

Consequently, I will probably be the only mom crying next year, when I drop him off for first grade. But I have a feeling he will be just fine.

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19 Responses

  1. Kristen Taylor

    YAY Michael (and mom!)

  2. Awww. Kids are so cute in their uniforms! Good for you and good for your little guy! (And that older sister is no slouch, either.)

    • No, she is not. She really knows how to come through for her mamma 🙂 And yes, the uniforms are adorable. But the real gem of uniforms is that I don’t have to have any clothing choice arguments in the morning. I’m not going to lie…that almost makes up for having to pay tuition.

  3. Watching our kids grow up is much more difficult than it should be, isn’t it?

  4. I’m so glad it all went well! That’s a sweet pic, too (the hand-holding) – aww! I kinda wish all schools would go the uniform route … for so many reasons like the one you named 🙂

  5. Guardians of the Galaxy has the best soundtrack ever! I do wish they had uniforms in Matt’s schools but too late now. Enjoy!

    • Isn’t it great? The soundtrack, I mean (but also the uniforms). Such a fun mix of songs. Although my kids constantly argue with me that little Michael Jackson sounds like a girl. In my book, little MJ can do no wrong. Big MJ is much more debatable.

  6. That picture of the two of them will be tugging on my heart for a very long time. I would keep that close at hand for when the two of them decide they don’t like each other for awhile. Sibling rivalry melts away.

  7. I’m pretty sure that no matter how much your daughter may diss your son in the car, once they hit the school property, nobody’s better mess with her brother! Glad you were able to give him the extra year; this will surely be a better fit for both of you.

    • I think so too. And I also think you are right about my daughter. I know for a fact that she has already checked in with him on the playground and at lunch 🙂 So cute.

  8. OMG, the J Animals. All of these commercials with these creepy animals you can wear, stuff, light up… my youngest wants them ALL. She has not matured into having discriminating taste yet. If it’s furry and ugly and completely useless, she wants it. For her birthday. (she also hasn’t matured enough to know that her birthday isn’t every month. she just asked me where was her birthday party for starting Kindergarten)

    I was totally ok with her starting Kindergarten. I think I have this habit of deflecting the current emotional situation by focusing on the future ones. Like next year when my son starts high school and my daughter starts middle school… I’m planning my breakdown for August 2015…

    • “If it’s furry and ugly and completely useless, she wants it.” OH MY GOD YES! That was hilrious. All I can think when I see the one for the stuffed animals that you can store things in ( i can’t remember the name…oh wait, Stuffies! How much stuff can you stuff in your Stuffie…) I think to myself, “All that will end up being is a giant piece of shit filled to capacity with smaller pieces of shit. So basically it’s like a shit bomb waiting to go off.”

      And don’t worry, we can have an August of 2015 breakdown together when I have to face the fact that Michael can’t do Kindergarten a third year.

      • And why do they want these useless things? It really is brilliant marketing that’s so bad who would have though of it? I refuse to buy these, they will add to all the other shit bombs we seem to accumulate. My kids have a knack for that “Claw Game” you see at restaurants and arcades and we have a ridiculous amount of cheap polyester stuffed animals…

        We can schedule our breakdown! That’s the best way to do it, to be prepared with wine and junk food! Of course, you could just keep switching schools and try to game the system to keep him in Kindergarten…

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