I am writing to you, as the reality that you are about to finish kindergarten is setting in. Only a couple of weeks stand in the way of your very first year of school being complete. I can’t help myself but to just stare at you lately. I wonder if when I stare at you and start to half smile and half tear up if you notice. I stare often because I feel like you are quickly slipping away from me. I know, I know, you are only five… but it feels like five going on twenty-five.
That first day, eight months ago I walked my baby to the bus stop. I watched as you smiled the biggest smile and couldn’t wait to climb on that bus. You were excited for the ride and the new beginning, and I was terrified. You laughed and couldn’t wait to get going, and I couldn’t keep from crying. If I could hold on to you forever I probably would.
The truth is that I know that I have to let go. I know that you will have to grow up. I am not really happy about it, but I know that it will happen regardless. When I tell you and your brother to stop growing and we sort of laugh and then you tell me that you can’t…. well you may think I’m being silly but, I’d actually like you both to stop growing. I’d love to freeze time and keep you perfectly innocent forever.
Sadly, I can not. Instead, I will do my best with the help of your Daddy, to teach you everything that we can so that some day you will become an amazing woman. I look at your little eyes and I see a sparkle that is indescribable. You are the sweetest little princess and I know that your heart will guide you where ever you need to go.
So as I look back on your first year, I am reminded of just how much you have learned. I think about how far you have come, from my tear blurred view of you waving as the bus drove away, until today. I am seeing you in a different way from the little baby girl that I said goodbye to on that first day. You are growing up right before my eyes and as sad as it makes me, I am also proud of who you are growing up to be.
You have learned so much this year but I have learned a few things also. I felt like the first couple of weeks were tough to get used to. It was hard to get in the routine of getting everyone up and out of the house five days a week. I have had to adapt as well and I am still working on it. Here are some things that I am working on.
If I have to have you out the door by eight thirty, I should plan to have you out the door fifteen minutes prior. That way when you throw a loop my way, we will end up being right on time instead of fifteen minutes late.
Mornings are rough with you and your brother. I can barely get a sip from my cup of clarity before the whirlwind begins. In a nutshell, yogurt ends up on someone’s shirt or pants or both. Juice is spilled, toast is burnt (usually mine), hair is pulled, teeth are brushed, book bags are packed, shoes are tied, and we are flying out the door and down the street in a reckless attempt at not missing the bus.
Morning after morning we run frantically out the door because I am so worried about being late. Sometimes we are literally running around the bend just to get a glimpse of the bus stop where I am certain that the bus will be pulling away from at any second.
Only once were we even close to missing the bus, and you still made it just in time. I rushed you and your brother around and stressed out over getting you both out the door on time. Next year I will be getting you up ten minutes earlier so that we have a cushion. The stress doesn’t work for you, your brother, or me. The mornings have become so hectic and I am determined to make next year easier for all.
I have also realized that snacks are our friend. Your first few days of school were tough! You came home and were the most miserable that I have ever seen you. We just couldn’t figure out what was the problem. Finally, after about a week in, we started bringing a snack to the bus stop. As soon as you jumped off the bus we inserted an M&M or goldfish in your mouth and watched as your mood turned from sour to sweet.
Like many adults, you need food every few hours. Not large meals but just a little bite to get you through. All morning you are in school learning and playing hard without any food. It is just too long to go without a recharge. This lesson I implemented with your brother as well. Around ten am everyday Jacob would have a meltdown. Tantrums were reeking havoc in our home. I have learned to feed the beasts and keep the grumpiness at bay. Forget a snack, and suffer the consequences.
Sadly, nap time is a distant memory. I think any adult would say that they miss nap time. It was with great restraint that Daddy and I gave up on a nap for you. Someday you will read this as an adult and you wish that you had never quit napping. You were so quick to replace the nap time with quiet time but some day you will wish you could go back to napping. Trust me, I am already there!
I do actually really enjoy this time of day, as I watch you play quietly. I listen to your conversations between your barbies or little people and I am entertained. I smile as I listen and just when I think that you may catch me staring, I turn my head quickly to pay no mind.
Last week, I was able to convince you to lay on the couch with me and snuggle. I rubbed your back and you fell asleep on my chest just the way you did when you were a baby. You slept for fifteen minutes and I couldn’t have spent that time any better. You no longer nap regularly and the thought just reminds me of how much you are growing up. I miss my baby that napped on my chest but I love the little girl that you are growing into.
I have also learned that I can’t protect you from everything. This lesson was and still is a little bit difficult for me. I hate that at any moment while you are at school, that I can’t protect you. You will face many trials in your lifetime and hopefully I will be close by when you need me, but the reality is that I will only be assistance. I can’t be the one to hover over you and keep you from harms way. I just can’t do it for you.
It scared me when you came home one day twenty minutes late. All I could think about was the terrible things that could have happened. It was the worst wait at the bus stop ever. It was so scary for me because I didn’t know what was going on. I wasn’t sure why you were so late and I didn’t know exactly where you were. I hated this feeling but the reality is that I will not always know where you are.
I will not always be able to stand over you to protect you. I guess the lesson for me is to be sure that I am always behind you. If I can’t fight your battles for you, which wouldn’t do you any good anyway, I need to be right behind you to catch you when you fall. I can pat you on the back for encouragement and I can be there when you need an ally.
Finally, I think that I have learned to listen to you. It is easy as a parent to think that you know everything. I’m the boss and there is no way that a five year old is going to tell me anything. This may be the case most times but, I have to admit, sometimes it is in my best interest to just shut my mouth and listen to you.
You are very good at communicating already. You know what you need and feel and sometimes I miss the cues. It is in these times that I don’t listen enough. Suddenly a temper tantrum explodes and I am left wondering how it all began. The truth is, that if I had stopped being the “boss” for two seconds to just listen to what you were feeling, the tantrum would probably have been avoided.
This lesson is really hard for me. I like to be in control of all situations and it is difficult to give up some of that control. I am working on this daily. I just need to remind myself that as you grow and learn, that I am going to be less and less in charge. You are five so it’s not like you are moving out tomorrow but I do need to get used to the idea that you will at some point be your own “boss.” Once again, my job will be to guide you down the right path instead of pick you up and carry you.
I really can’t believe that you are finishing up kindergarten. I can’t believe that almost six years ago you were born. It seems like time has flown so fast and it isn’t slowing down a bit. I am grateful for every moment that I have been able to spend with you and I am excited most days to see you grow up. The rest of the days I am scared that I will have to slowly let go. You are my first baby and it will be hard, but I promise to try.