I’ll jump back on in a week or two to share all about our summer and where we went and who we saw and how I struggled and how the kids had the best time and on and on… I promise to take a break from momming real hard and editing essays (like in November) to update the blog with some new recipes and some new products I was totally influenced to try.
But tonight, I am putting everything aside to let the emotions flow. Because tomorrow…my baby goes to… KINDERGARTEN (Part 1). For those of you who know me, I spent the better portion of last year debating what to do for my little man. You see, he has a late November birthday and is the youngest of three, and I wasn’t quite sure if I should keep him in his grade or give him a year to learn and grow and delay his Kindergarten start.
I weighed the pros and cons. I consulted everyone and their mother (literally! I asked random grandmas at the playground). I cried. I had a few difficult conversations with my husband. I questioned myself. My thoughts were all over the place and for good reason. There were pros and cons for holding him.
Here’s how it went down.
Pediatrician – “Hold him back. Give him a year to grow. Let him be the oldest. Especially with a boy.”
Elementary Teachers – “If you can afford another year of pre-K, definitely hold him.”
My cousin, a school counselor – “Hold him back. It will be the best thing for him.”
His teachers in Pre-K – “He’s doing great, but he might benefit from another year before Kindergarten.”
The consensus amongst most people (and their mothers) was that giving a boy with a late birthday an additional year to learn and mature and grow up would only benefit him in the long run. The common thread, “No one ever regretted holding their kid back, but many have regretted pushing their kids ahead.” The pediatrician explained that everywhere outside of NY, the cut-off for entering school is September 1st, so if we lived anywhere else, my son would have to delay Kindergarten. That would be a huge age discrepancy amongst him and his peers when he starts college. And I thought to myself – do I want him being forced to read at four? Do I want him to have to sit for Regents exams when he might not be ready? Do I want him to be the last to drive? Do I want him to be the youngest in his pledge class in his fraternity? (Yes, you read that right…I am already thinking Greek!).
What you might ask would be the cons? Well for starters, he’d have to go to a different school than his brothers. This would be the only year where he and my oldest would be together on the bus and see each other in the halls at school. So yeah, that made me cry a whole bunch. He has really nice children (and parents) in his intended grade. Was I changing the course of his life without his consent? Where would I send him? Should he repeat Pre-K someplace new or go to a private Kindergarten? What could we afford? What made sense for him?
What weighed on me in a lot of ways is that my son is smart. He’s socially with it. He can hang with the big kids and he likes more advanced shows and games because he has older brothers. But in some ways, he is still sweet and mushy and needs extra hugs and kisses from his mommy and talks about poop a whole lot and needs a little extra TLC with his grip and speech.
After more lengthy conversations with the pediatrician and a few trusted elementary school teachers as well as his Pre-K teachers, we opted for a private Kindergarten program. The program is part of a religious school, which honestly gives me a whole new set of things to be anxious about (Will he fit in? Will I fit in? Will we make friends?). Thankfully, he and I met a mommy/son due that we clicked with right away and that is totally easing my worries. And two of my very dear friends (you know who you are ladies) have been ultra supportive and have given me the room to question myself and talk about it non-stop for many, many months. And…the program is supposed to be amazing, the teacher is lovely and kind, he will have two teachers in the room for eighteen kids versus the public school twenty four to one teacher, he will get all the specials offered in public school PLUS learn more about our religion, and best of all, if I change my mind and realize that this kid is ready for first grade next year, I CAN send him straight to first grade in public school.
He and I spoke about Kindergarten and we talked about how he would feel being one of the youngest in his grade versus one of the oldest. Of course, as the youngest of three boys, he JUMPED at the chance to say he wants to be the oldest. I know in my heart of hearts, giving him the opportunity to stand on his own two feet, to not be trailing behind his peers and his brothers, is a blessing. But that doesn’t make me question myself any less.
And it doesn’t make it any easier to send my son off to his first day of Kindergarten tomorrow. Because I still don’t know if this will truly be his ONLY first day of Kindergarten or if he will start Kindergarten (Part 2) next year in public school. All I know is that my baby isn’t in nursery school anymore and that is blowing my mind into a million pieces. So tonight, like so many moms before me, I kissed my baby goodnight (after I yelled like a lunatic at him and his brother for beating each other up), and I will wake up early tomorrow morning to put a big boy on a big bus all by himself (because apparently riding the bus on your first day is a big deal and it’s way more exciting than mommy driving you and crying at the door of your classroom!) Wish Mr. M (and his mommy) lots of luck tomorrow! This one’s for you Mono Mono! xo