Thousands of parents celebrated the end of a 12-year journey this past week here in St. Johns County. Me, on the other hand, celebrated surviving my son’s kindergarten year. It seems like only yesterday I walked my little guy into his new school and into kindergarten. I knew he was ready for kindergarten, but I was not. To say this year came with a lot of ups and downs for both my son and me would be an understatement. Somehow, we both made it to the last day of school in one piece, but not without learning some lessons along the way.
I’m sure you’re assuming my son suffered from separation anxiety. Nope. I suffered from extreme separation anxiety right off the bat! My little guy has been my partner in crime for the last 6 years. Yep, he went to preschool and VPK a few hours a day for the last three years. But, nothing prepared me for the 8 hours he would be away from me. This wasn’t an “oh how am I going to protect him” type of sadness. I missed everything from his quirky little jokes to his temper tantrums. I did not realize just how much I would miss him while he was at school. And, honestly, I struggled with it all year. Luckily I was able to help out in his class this year, and that made all the difference!
Two Peas in a Pod
My little guy is exactly like me. We are both true introverts in every single possible way. Neither of us like being the center of attention, become easily distraught when things are too crazy around us, only keep a handful of friends close by our sides and really need time to recharge at the end of the day. A lot of issues my son struggled with this year are things I’ve struggled with over the last thirty-five years. There would be (and continue to be) days I would have no clue as to how to help him because I didn’t even know how to help myself. Thankfully, we were blessed with an amazing teacher that was patient and kind to Jack. She figured out pretty quickly the things that would help Jack thrive and, in turn, helped me in a lot of ways.
We learned to celebrate everything! Jack grew by leaps and bounds this year in reading, writing, and socializing. At the beginning of the year, he had a really hard time just relaxing and turning his brain off and enjoying “go noodle” times (he would just sit under the table). By the end of the year, he was bobbing his head along to the music. So we celebrated! Jack wanted to be able to ride his bike to school without training wheels. So, he practiced and practiced and practiced until he could. So we celebrated! We celebrated everything from him reading his first book entirely on his own to us to losing his first tooth to running a crazy number of laps at the Jaguar Challenge. We even celebrated his friends’ accomplishments!
Kindergarten is so different from when I was a kid. If I remember correctly, we only went for half a day, and most of it was spent playing, cutting, coloring and gluing our fingers together. We were not expected to know how to read, write complete sentences, or even add for that matter. So, it was extremely important for us to talk about the fun in learning to do those things. And, what’s fun without a few parties sprinkled in during the year!
The first week of kindergarten was pretty tough on Jack. He was in a new place, didn’t know anyone in his class, missed his momma and was exhausted (8 hours is a long day for a 6-year-old!). Thankfully, he bonded with two other little boys pretty quickly, and for the rest of the year, they were inseparable. It’s truly amazing to see friendships form and grow at that age. And, it’s comforting to know Jack had buddies he could trust and depend on at school.
I sat in on Jack’s last day of kindergarten on Wednesday and had the privilege to listen to the kids talk about their favorite things from the year. As each kiddo took a turn, I couldn’t help but tear up. Being able to watch each and every one of them (including Jack) thrive this year was amazing! I can’t wait to see what first grade has in store for them!
So, here’s to a wonderful year in kindergarten and to all the excitement this summer may hold!