'Twas the Night Before Kindergarten

Sunday, August 24, 2014
This is hard. And it's not. I can't decide. It's the very official end of his time staying at home with me, but just the beginning of so much more.

His outfit is picked out, backpack hanging up, his supplies at school, and his lunch not quite made yet.

Preparation for this began long, long ago, however, as he grew in my belly.

My first year as an early childhood special education teacher taught me so much. It foreshadowed my future and all the things the little bean growing inside of me would need to know before that big kindergarten day. They needed to be "ready to read", self sufficient in most self help tasks, and of course "socially mature".

Kindergarten was a BIG deal. As preschool teachers, it was our top priority to help the little ones grow and learn academically, functionally and socially to prepare them for that first year in the "big school".

A hot topic of debate was "summer birthdays". To send them, or not to send them that first year of eligibility. Those on my side of the profession (special ed) were of the mindset TO SEND, as they would ultimately get more help in the long run and have age appropriate social models for those that needed that sort of thing. On the other side of the spectrum were most kindergarten teachers saying "hold them back". They simply wouldn't be ready by virtue of their "young" age.

This thought was quickly ingrained in my brain, and before I even had given birth to Henry, I knew I'd want to send him.

And as he grew into a young toddler, picking up on things most other toddlers didn't know at a very early age (letter recognition, number recognition, letter sounds, problem solving), I knew without a doubt we'd send him at 5 years old, and that he'd be reading before he entered. (Talk about a mama's intuition).

We've battled sensory issues, MAJOR social issues, and MAJOR feeding issues.

I've cried at the conclusion of unsuccessful play dates, at the dinner table, at IEP meetings, and at feeding therapy. Tears brought on by the anxious feeling of "maybe he won't be ready after all."

We've joked many times that I'm not "using" my very expensive University of Minnesota bachelor and master degrees in child psychology and early childhood education and special education.

Truth of the matter is, I've definitely been using it, these entire five years. That's why he's ready.

I pushed for him to get help. Through tears, I FOUGHT for him to get help, because I knew, deep down, he needed it. And with my experience in school and teaching, the earlier the better.  And we stuck through everything, no matter how hard it was. The shrieking screams on the first day ever of preschool, the blood curdling screams of his feeding therapy evaluation, the meltdowns at the dinner table, the refusal to go within 5 feet of another child, all of it.

Tomorrow when he goes to school, I know he will answer simple teacher questions. He will know and or comprehend probably any academics thrown at him. He will have a conversation with his buddy Brendan and play with him on the playground.

He will eat whatever I put in his lunch box.

We've faced many struggles climbing this mountain to kindergarten.

And we overcame them all, because damn it, this kid is ready and is going to rock his kindergarten year.

We love you buddy and are so proud of the little guy you are growing up to be.
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