Tomorrow I’m sending my baby off to the last day of kindergarten, and I’m surprisingly emotional about it. In the early (and exhausting) years of parenting, you just hope you and your children will make it to kindergarten without a trip to the ER or the psych ward. That the Goldfish crackers smashed into the floor and the shitty diapers will magically disappear. And they do. Well, the diapers anyway. And when they hit five, your little prince or princess gets dressed and heads out the door for the place that will change them forever.
They learn to read and write, and add and subtract. They learn the same stuff we learned 30+ years ago and have since forgotten. It’s both amazing and humbling, to learn “new” things from a kindergartner.
They make new friends. Pack their backpacks themselves. Make good choices. Stand up for their friends. They get excited when they see an older sibling or neighbor in the cafeteria. Find new passions. They run to you when you pick them up at the end of the day, jumping into your arms, while they’re still small enough to do so.
I’m relieved our school does not label the completion of kindergarten as a “graduation.” Mostly because I don’t think it’s a huge accomplishment – they all should finish kindergarten. Don’t get me wrong, kindergarteners look adorable in mini caps and gowns, much cuter than they will at 18, but kids are rewarded for every little thing these days, so I think it’s a bit much. I’m also glad that Avery won’t be wearing that regalia because I’m not sure I could handle the finality of it.
My baby is done with kindergarten. She’s off to first grade, where she’ll probably learn to drive and get a tattoo. Kidding, of course, but working with high school parents, they tell me all the time how fast the time goes. Before I know it she’ll be wearing the real cap and gown, be taller than me, and drive her tattooed self to the ceremony.
In the meantime, we’ll celebrate the end of the school year the way my family always did – dinner out at a restaurant of their choice. And I’m going to remind myself to just slow down. Enjoy the hell out of summer, spending time with these little people who each year learn and grow so much. It’s our last day of kindergarten, ever, but the start of so much more.