Five years ago exactly I walked my oldest into a kindergarten classroom. After wrangling three year old Camille and nine month old George, I walked back to our car in the muggy August afternoon. I saw another mom from the class walk down the street- she was hugely pregnant and carrying a little blond girl. I called out to her, wanting to make some friends who had children the same age as mine.
We've been friends for five years now. This year, for my birthday, she gave me Doctor Who themed dishcloths because she is awesome.
Five years ago, Cole was a bundle of cells, our house still had ugly wall paper and life was very different.
Now, George is five and going off to kindergarten. We've lived here almost his entire life and half of Joe's. This is Joe's last year at elementary school. On Meet the Teacher night, he and his friends were talking about JUNIOR HIGH. Whoa, buddy, let's finish fifth grade first!
I was fine all summer. George starting kindergarten? No problem! Love his teacher, love the school, love the whole staff. This summer, he has been on fire and is so, so ready to rock kindergarten.
I might suddenly be a *small* mess.
Five years and nine months ago, my baby couldn't breath on his own. He didn't talk until he was three and a half. He cried the first four months of preschool.The whole mainstream kindergarten thing with no para? I didn't dare dream. It was moment to moment, sound to sound kinda of living.
Adam reminded George that if his new friends can't understand him, to ask the teacher and she will help. I didn't cry.
I didn't cry as we got out his new "kindergarten is cool" shirt. I didn't cry on meet the teacher night.
But when I got him out of the tub and rubbed lotion on his skin and over his funky belly button- funky because of the lines that went into it to save his life- I started to get all teary. I remembered the first time I gave him a gentle massage with hospital lotion. I remember his nurse watching me, his face scrunching as I gently rubbed him.
It's mild stones like this that remind how fragile his beginning (all of ours, really) was. It reminds me how damn lucky we are. He was- is- a late term preemie with significant speech problems. He needed three years of special education preschool. He still faces an uncertain speech/language/writing future. I don't know what it holds.
I do know this: He is damn lucky. WE are damn lucky. We live in a major metro area with a school that harkens back to the small town schools... but with all the bells and whistles of any high tech school. The staff is small, with 2-3 classes per grade. They know my kids. I know them. And every single person will go to bat for my children. I know this because they already have done so. His teacher already loves him and his preschool teacher is right down the corner.
George is strong and proud and determined. He's got a great team in his corner. He will rock this school.
When I get all teary, yeah, part of it is the "where did my BABY go?" emotions. Part of it is not believing he is this big. But the biggest part? Joy. Joy that he can go to a mainstream classroom. Joy that he is ready for this. Joy that he has so many people who love him.
So, yeah, I'm probably going to cry all over my friends tomorrow... but they will be happy tears.