Kindergarten coping

Next week, the day that every parent dreams for and every child dreads for three months will finally arrive. The first day of school.

When I was younger, I always dreaded the first day of school. There was really no particular reason for it other than the fact that summer was coming to an end and gone were my late nights of playing video games and watching horror movies. For much of my teenage years, I was never what one would call a morning person. I would reluctantly drag myself out of bed and, like the shambling terrors of the movies I watched, shuffle into school.

My son, who will be starting kindergarten this year, is the complete opposite of what I remember being. The day after preschool was over, Jareth was ready to start kindergarten. All throughout the summer, he woke up everyday asking if he was going to start school.

It’s entirely possible that I was like this myself when I was younger, but I just don’t remember it. I do have to say that I am very happy to see such a love of learning from my little one. Right now, much of what he tells us are facts about Pokemon, but he’s just as interested in dinosaurs and living animals. Any time we go to the library, his first stop isn’t the “easy” section. Instead, he heads to the junior non-fiction section.

Each visit, the subject of his search changes. Sometimes it’s insects and others it’s lizards and amphibians. We, as the readers of these books, are subjected to a week or two of reading facts to him that he will then memorize and recite back to us long after we’ve forgotten about what we read. 

As a parent, I am excited for Jareth to start school. I honestly believe he will do well because he does have this love of learning, but I also have my struggles as we approach this day. Right now, my son has a lot of friends.

We were told by his preschool teacher that he would greet every student that came into class after he had been dropped off. When we went to the “Bingo for Babies” event held at the Bear Trap earlier this year, all of his classmates yelled out his name in excitement when they saw him.

This is what you want for your child. They don’t have to be popular, but you want them to be accepted.

Jareth has a very vivid imagination, as do many of his friends, and I don’t want him to lose that. While he will go through school learning even more facts to recite to us, I hope that he will also be able to retain the creativity that currently allows him to pretend to hunt monsters, catch Pokemon and interact with dinosaurs.

I sometimes find myself worrying if that creativity, along with his giving nature, will make him a target for others as he grows up. With some of the children he calls friends, I doubt that it will be easy for him to become a target, but a parent always worries.

As I’m writing this, the first day of school is a week away. My wife, Telitha, and I have often talked about this day and I have been the strong one in that conversation. While she laments that the little bundle of joy we brought home five years ago is growing up, I remind her that it is all part of the process and that we will be okay. 

Now that kindergarten is literally a week away, I’m starting to freak out a little bit.

As the last school year came to an end, I joked around with some of the other parents that we would need to start a “kindergarten support group” for us parents who weren’t quite ready for our children to go to the “big school.” It’s much less of a joke now. I feel like I might actually need it.

So, if you’re the parent of an Encampment student and you drop off your kid on the first day of school, you might just see a rather large person who has been reduced to tears. That will more than likely be me. Just know that I welcome any words of encouragement.


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