A few weeks ago on the night before our son started kindergarten, we read a book as a family called On the First Day of Kindergarten. Even as I read it to him, I knew none of it was going to happen. His experience would be totally different from what was represented in the book. Yet, we still wanted to feel that special first day of school experience in our hearts.
You see, I was supposed to be a first-time kindergarten mom this fall. A mom who was ready to see her oldest son board that yellow school bus with a broad smile, choked throat and blurry eyes. Turns out, I was not lucky enough to experience that this time around.
Earlier this year (pre-pandemic), I struggled with a great deal of anxiety over him starting school in the fall, like every other mother of a 5-year-old. But ultimately, I was sure he was ready to begin kindergarten. Even if there were moments I wanted to keep him home another year. It was a like a tug of war between my mind and my heart. My heart being Mom, and my mind being Jivin’s Mom – the person tasked with helping this unique little one learn and grow, striving for what was best for him. So the decision was made to send him off to school.
As a family, we believe kindergarten is just the first step on a wonderful journey of education, and not the final destination. So with this in mind, we worked together with Jivin to plan out this first year of school for him, including where he attended, building up his hopes and desires for the exciting year ahead.
But eventually, we had to break all those dreams we had shaped up in his little mind. With the pandemic continuing into the fall and us feeling unsure what going to school would look like for him, we wrestled with the decision of what to do. It was so hard for me to work through, as we had other parentings hurdles going on with him. I struggled with the fact that my husband and I were responsible for making these decisions for him. We went over and over what as best for Jivin – both his physical and mental health. The question remained: This was supposed to be his big, new beginning… were we making it negative for him? Potentially ruining his start to school?
If we homeschooled, would he hate it?
If we sent him to school, would he struggle with social distancing?
Would he be angry for what we decided for him?
What if the journey we opted for him didn’t lead him to his desired destination?
So many questions and worries, that I finally called my own mother in tears. I felt as though I wanted to be done being the responsible person. I wanted a break from the decision making. I wanted to step away from it all.
But then I realized… it was just kindergarten. Just the first step on his journey. With a bit of an awakening, I wondered why were we so hung up on this decision-making process? Because really, it is not where we start, it is where we intend to reach.
And honestly, switching my perspective made all the difference. When I recognized this is simply the first step and that we as parents were doing our best for him – always having his best interests at heart – the weight truly lifted from my shoulders.
It was strange that one day we were busy filling out his bus card, placing new orders for school uniforms and getting ready to shop for school supplies. And the next, everything had changed, finding ourselves sitting him down to explain why we were choosing to homeschool him.
I still wonder, does keeping him home make this strange introduction to kindergarten any better? I don’t know. If I’m truly honest, maybe it’s my way of buying more time with him before he experiences traditional school away from home.
But ultimately we realized, whatever we committed to for this year, we would never stop being hopeful. And these hopes help lead us to where our hearts desire to be, guiding Jivin through his first year of kindergarten.
It has been so hard for moms everywhere to choose the best option for their kids. I can literally feel it in the air these last few weeks and months. But the important thing is we are all doing our best for our own precious little ones. And that’s all that matters, because this year is just one step on the journey.