Yesterday Ada and I attended a kindergarten preparation meeting at one of the local schools. We are debating sending her to one of two local schools and this was my chance to have a peek inside, meet some of the teachers, and help me decide which school seems like the best fit for her.
As I sat at the peeling cafeteria table, sequestered off with the rest of the parents, one of whom had not recently showered in, oh, say, weeks, and listened to the “learning coach” talk about ways we could prepare our kids for school, I started to panic slightly.
Oh my gosh, I thought. This is real now! She’s not ready! What if I haven’t done enough and I’ve ruined her whole life?
My mind flashed over high school, college graduation, a future job–her potential stunted and growth limited by a mother who was too busy typing on her computer to do flashcards with her.
Up until now, I realized, how my life as a mother has kind of been on “pause.” Not like parenting babies and toddlers is exactly easy, but I have to admit that most of my days are spent on survival mode–with the goal being to just survive the day. A play date here, a grocery trip here.
Entertaining, feeding, nap time. A quiet life so far, spent mostly at home. Of course we count and do the alphabet and practice all those little things, but honestly, I have never been a believer in hard-core educational prep before school starts. I am much more of the “let kids be kids” mindset and even Ada’s preschool was play-based, a fact that we chose on purpose.
Now, it feels like it’s about to get real.
It’s go time. Launching my little girl out into the world. And while I’m still highly unsure how I feel about the whole school thing (part of me really, really wants to homeschool), this feels right for right now.
I know Ada’s going to love school. She brought home the little bag from the meeting and locked herself in the office, proclaiming she had to “finish her homework.” She mastered everything they asked us to do and watching her enthusiasm for learning just makes this transition so much easier. I know she’s going to gain things from learning from other people that she won’t gain at home with me.
And although it’s tempting for me to throw myself into teaching her calculus over the summer, I’ve had to remind myself of the bigger picture here.
Education alone isn’t everything.
Yes, I am sending her into school prepared to learn to read and write, but as parents, we are also preparing her in so many other ways.
Faith, love, kindness, family, generosity, the strength to navigate a scary world with a smile on her face.
I’m not just playing with my little girl anymore.
I’m preparing a person for life.
Somehow, it took sitting in a smelly, slightly run-down kindergarten cafeteria for this realization to dawn.
It’s a scary and awesome responsibility, especially because I have my sneaking suspicions that my daughter is actually smarter than I am . Like on Sunday, when she leaned into me at church as the priest discussed the importance of Mother’s Day to whisper,
“Mom, shouldn’t there be a children’s day?”
Something tells me she’s going to be just fine.