My daughter had her Pre-K graduation pictures yesterday. In a few months, which will pass all too fast, I will be bringing her to the door of a new school to start kindergarten. She will walk into that school and to her room on her own. One of the skills her Pre-K class has been working on that will come in most handy here is handling separation. Some days this goes better than others for her.
At the core of it is learning to let go. To stand on your own and need your parent a little less, at least when it comes to walking in the door of your class and starting your day when you are five years old. Is this a good thing? Absolutely. It’s also just a reminder at times that this is just the beginning of her needing me less and less. While she has to let go of me, I have to also let her go and stand on her own more and more. Some days this goes better than others for me.
I have had my daughter in daycare/pre-school since she was five months old. Every day I brought her to her classroom, from the infant room to her Pre-K class. I think it will feel a little weird, at first, for me to no longer need to walk her in. It’s a small thing, kind of silly, but still. That’s not to say there aren’t times bringing her in can be a frustrating and exasperating ordeal to be sure. Will I miss the days of her absolutely melting down as I try to leave the room, teachers vainly attempting to distract or calm her as she screams bloody murder while I walk out the door racked with guilt? Probably not so much. Ok, definitely not.
But, with time, I may miss that she cared so much that I was there, even if the demonstration of that concern could sometimes make me feel like Garbage Mom of the Year. In this sentimental look back, I might also recall less volatile morning departures, like one morning when she quickly organized a band of Pre-K classmates to block the door so I couldn’t leave. I had to (on the inside) admire her leadership skills and on-the-spot creativity, though I think she ended up getting half her class in trouble just to entrap me in the classroom for a few extra minutes.
And as she, more times than not, is starting to get better at letting go, I am reminded that my little girl, who just a couple of years ago couldn’t ride a bike, write her name, or express her thoughts and emotions beyond basic words, is growing up so fast.
Even in just the last year, so much has changed. She continues to exercise her independence, for better or worse. Mostly for the better though. She wants to choose her own clothes, for better or worse. She is doing (just for fun), her own YouTube show. She doesn’t need me for any of that. She has also started to catch on to the art of negotiation when it comes to things she wants, though coming to a mutually beneficial solution can at times be difficult. However, she is figuring that out too, on her own.
For example, just last night she had decided she wanted the Mrs. Potts and Chip set from the new Beauty and the Beast movie. I told her what I thought was fair so she could earn that set. My terms would have meant she had to wait a few days. She disagreed, wanting it sooner. Coming to a stalemate, I told her she had her own money, if she wanted to buy it, use that. My money, my terms, but if she wants to use her money, then she can get it when she wants it. She went straight to her piggy bank and we went and got the set. There was a second toy she had her eye on. She asked how she could earn it and I told her what I thought were fair terms. “I don’t want to spend all my money, so this time, we’ll do it your way,” she said. That second toy, if she keeps up her end, will mean two nights of fuss-free bedtime, so win-win in my book. It also shows me while she can be impulsive, she’s no fool.
I don’t want to go back to the days of total dependence. Good lord, no, not for all the wine in the world. But there are moments when you see exactly how much your child has grown and changed, that you do wish it would all slow down, just a little. I guess that’s common. It’s one of those things you hear other moms with older kids say and you don’t really fully understand how that feels until it’s you looking at your child and it hits you like a ton of bricks. The days are long, but the years are short. Never truer words.
Did I expect to feel so sentimental and introspective getting my four-year-old child ready for school yesterday morning for some pictures? Not really. It just was a moment that reminded me bluntly that she’s growing up, ready or not. Letting go. Seems it will be a journey for us both.