Thursday, February 9, 2012
A Year of Mild Torture
This year has been a form of torture for my middle son and me. I had all kinds of wonderful intentions for how we were going to use this extra year, but none of my good intentions have materialized. I refer to this year as extra because C’s a fall-birthday-baby, meaning that when all his preschool friends got to move on to kindergarten, he didn’t. This was a difficult concept to grasp. (You have to be five by September 1st.)
C didn’t see himself any differently. He was just as fast, as tall, as coordinated, as verbal, and as inquisitive. He was exhibiting all those school-ready-signs. I was so tempted to go through the necessary steps to see him enter this last fall as a kinder, but something inside of me was scared. What if this messed up his life? What if he was developmentally ready as a five-year-old, but when he turned 15 he was behind: the last to hit puberty. I didn’t want to completely screw up his entire adult life just because he was the last boy to have his voice drop or sprout a bit of mustache hair.
And then the words of a kindergarten teacher cautioned me, “Do you really want to cheat him of one more year of his childhood?” No! Never! I don’t want to do that. How horrible. I’m not a horrible mother. I won’t do that! And so September rolled around, and we stayed home. We took his older brother to school, we saw his friends tumble out of their cars in the carpool line. C rolled down his window and shouted excitedly, “Hi Jack! Hi Brandon! Hi Saydee!” Then he would look at me, “Those are my friends. I miss them. When I turn five, will I get to be with them again?” It was tricky explaining the concept of being five on September 1st. But eventually I was sure he got it.
However, two weeks later when he turned five, and invited all his “older” friends to his party, he didn’t understand why he wasn’t going to get to join them in the school drop off line the next day. It continues to perplex him. It feels unjust.
“Next year I’ll get to be in kindergarten, right mom?” Right! “And I’ll finally get to be in class with Jack and Wyatt?!” No. “What? Why do they get to be in 1st grade” It’s not fair!” And I have to agree with him, being a fall birthday myself. But I’m old enough to have been from the era when the cut-off was November 1st, so I got to be the young one in my class, and I loved it. I got to college when I was 17, and I was ready…I was very over high school by that point. I guess that is why this year hasn’t been some glorious extension of childhood, but rather a very long time-out.
Besides, like I hinted at earlier, I haven’t been the most stellar mom with these afternoons together. My middle son doesn’t play well by himself; he’s very social. And I am not the kind of mom who plays. I facilitate activities; I do not play with my children. This is why we had siblings and not only-children. So, my five-year-old has become very good at computer games and navigating our kid-friendly Netflix account. Bad mom, bad mom.
On the way to preschool, coming off of winter break, C yelled, “Goodbye Christmas Vacation, hello preschool!” I’m pretty sure his sentiments will be similar this fall when he shouts, “Goodbye Preschool, hello Kindergarten.” And I’ll be shouting right along with him. I just hope I haven’t made the wrong choice and instead of cheating him of his childhood, I’ve cheated him of being with his true friends. Nothing is worse than 12 years of knowing that you’ve been placed with the wrong group of peers.