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The Anxiety Of Sending Kids Off To Kindergarten

Waiting For The Bus
Nervousness this morning in homes in places like Acushnet, Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, Marion and Rochester.  Not only is it the first day of school, it’s the first day of Kindergarten, a milestone not only for the kids, but also their parents.
We are experiencing those same mixed emotions at the Rock house today, as our son begins a new chapter in his little life.  He must have asked me a million questions last night as I tucked him into bed.  His 5 year old mind was racing.  “Daddy, what color will the bus be?  Will we have art class?  I’m not good at art.  What if the other kids laugh at my painting?  Where will you be?  Where will Mommy be?”
Looking Out Window

It sounds so cliche. but it seems like only yesterday I was holding him for the first time in the maternity ward at Tobey Hospital.  Today, he starts his educational journey, but also his first real social journey.  For the first time, we don’t have direct control over how his day will go.  Others, outside the family, can have a direct effect and influence on his days.  Who will make sure he eats his lunch?  What if he gets picked on by somebody?  What if he’s homesick?
Luckily, they’ll break us in slowly today.  My wife and I will ride the bus to school with my son, where he’ll be swept into his new Kindergarten classroom while we attend a parent meeting in the gym.  Then, after an abbreviated day, we’ll ride the bus back home together.
Tomorrow is probably when the real tears will fall (most likely from my wife) as she loads him onto the bus alone for the first time.  I clearly remember the gut wrenching feeling two years ago when I waved to the bus as it pulled away with my little girl on it, the quick, flashing lights of the bus matching my rapid heartbeat.  My life was on that bus.  But, slowly, as the days went by, my anxiety calmed.  Eventually, I stopped getting cold sweats as I pictured my daughter going through her day without us.  Amazingly, somehow, she could do it.
My mind tells me that my son will be no different.  While I’m sure we’ll have our bumps in the road over the next few weeks as he begins Kindergarten, I know he’ll be O.K.  He’s going to adjust.  Probably quicker than we will.  So why is my heart in my throat this morning?

First Day of School
He started school this morning,
And he seemed so very small.
As I walked there beside him
In the Kindergarten hall.
And as he took his place beside
The others in the class,
I realized how all too soon
Those first few years can pass.
Remembering, I saw him as
He first learned how to walk,
The words that we alone made out
When he began to talk.
This little boy so much absorbed
In learning how to write.
It seems as though he must have grown
To boyhood overnight.
My eyes were blurred, but hastily
I brushed the tears away.
Lest by some word or sign of mine
I mar his big first day.
Oh how I longed to stay with him
And keep him by the hand
To lead him through the places
That he couldn’t  understand.
And something closely kin to fear
Was mingled with my pride.
I knew he would no longer be
A baby by my side.
But he must have his chance to live,
To work  his problems out,
The privilege to grow and learn
What life is all about.
And I must share my little boy
With friends  and work and play;
He’s not a baby anymore –
He’s in Kindergarten  today.

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