Tuesday, May 22, 2012

At the end

The kindergarten end-of-year assembly was on Monday.

I never told you just how bad the beginning was, how she screamed every morning, how a teacher had to pry her forcibly from my car in the carpool line, how she clutched her car seat straps, then the frame of the door, then empty air crying my name, Mama, Mama, no! How I cried every morning, just after she was dragged in to the building away from me, how I wanted to believe she could thrive and how I feared I was wrong, how I feared I was forcing her into a system for which she wasn't ready, how not all kids are round pegs and what if I was doing her the worst disservice possible for the convenience of a conventional life.

I never wanted to quit my job and homeschool her, but there were mornings when I thought: one more week, one more day. And then I'm going to have to ditch my whole life because she needs me more than I need my life-as-I-know-it.

I was this.close to that panic attack, to that cliff jump, to doing that which might have felt safer for her but wouldn't have bolstered her with the confidence I needed to summon on her behalf. It was scary, and I really didn't know, I didn't know.

Until the day she only fake-cried, like she felt she had to keep up appearances for me, and the day she forgot to fake-cry, and the day when she actually got out of the car unassisted, and that day, oh that day, the one where she was too busy chatting with her new friends to turn back and wave goodbye to me.

That was a good day.

This girl: she will never, I think, entirely shed her anxieties. She will always have to manage her trepidations. But she'll never have another beginning-of-kindergarten, either. "She should be on stage," another mom told me after Monday's assembly. Because this girl knew every word and every hand gesture and every dance move. She smiled as they performed and winked at me as she said her lines and giggled. "Your daughter," her teacher said to me afterwards, "she gets it. She listened and she gets it. I told them they can have fun up there as long as they still sing loudly. And did you watch her? She had fun and she sang loudly!"

E tells me she doesn't remember when she didn't love kindergarten. I wonder, though, if she's really blocked it out? or if she loves it so much that she doesn't want to acknowledge the change of opinion. That's the best flavor of humble pie, isn't it?

We're celebrating the end of kindergarten. It's a milestone I panicked we'd never reach. She is beloved and adjusted and has learned so much. And she's so, so happy.

She'll always have her struggles. We all have our struggles, don't we? But she triumphed, this girl, this year. It's a thing to celebrate. She's such a great kid.

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