Back to School and the Ugly Cry

A friend with a 5-year old just shared a great piece with me from the Huffington Post; it is an open letter to the moms of soon-to-be Kindergartners. And now, as I sit here on the couch nearly five years after my first Kindergarten drop-off, and only a few weeks before my 10 year old Vader starts his last year of elementary school, I just finished up a good, long, ugly cry.

It was probably not for the reasons you’d think.

Like many moms,  I was sad that this right of passage had crept up on us after years of daycare drop offs.  It seemed to me that with arrival of Kindergarten, he would be off to college in a blink.  I was blown away by how simultaneously big and small my son seemed.  He was a little shy and visibly nervous, but I had faith he was ready.  I put on my brave face and away we went together into this new chapter in his life where the teacher assured me it was all going to be OK.   I scooted out the door to my car to have a long, good, ugly cry.

Like many mom’s, I expected that tomorrow would be a little easier and the next day, easier still.

I was wrong.

I have shared in earlier posts about the train wreck that was Vader’s year of Kindergarten. By the end of his first full year of school, Vader hated school and begged us not to send him back.  We sought professional guidance and put Vader thought months of testing and evaluation over the following summer, and ultimately, he was diagnosed with ADHD.

There was nothing wrong with him. He just needed us to meet him where he was. And we have.  No school is perfect, but his current school is much better at working with Vader in a way that works for Vader.  Heck, he made A/B honor roll at the end of 4th grade!  He has friends at school!  He wants to go back!

Happy ending, yes?!?

So what am I crying about?

I cry because I mourn for my son and his Kindergarten experience. There were so many fights.  Tons of crying.  Pleading.  Misery.  He was suffering and I was not able to protect him.

And it is possible it could happen again.

Like the mother in the Huffington post feature, I am still nervous for my son because even now, going into the fifth grade, I still worry.  Will he feel safe?  Will he feel smart?  Will he want to learn?  Will it all be OK?

Like these moms, I know I have to trust that I did everything I could to set my little one up for success, but I worry that it isn’t enough.

Because in Kindergarten, it wasn’t.

And now I am crying again.


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