My daughter started her Kindergarten this Fall. Kindergarten. The first day was the hardest, I think. A few other moms of Kindergartners, and I found solace in each other’s tears… “Our babies are growing up so fast” was the general consensus.
“Doesn’t it feel like yesterday, when they were so tiny and helpless?” one mom, Lisa* said.
“Well, mine was pretty helpless today. He was trying to put his jacket on, over his bag!” another mom, Marie* disagreed. “He was pretty helpless with the shoelaces, and also, the buttons.”
“Yeah, mine still cries all the time.” Jenna wiped her tear.
“So then, why are we crying?” I asked. “It just seems like an illusion that they’re growing up. They just seem to get taller holding on to all their kiddie traits. Mine, doesn’t like walking to any place that’s not a playground. She’ll pretend she’s so tired, that she cannot walk another step and desperately needs to be picked up.”
“But still, school is big.” Lisa said, still trying to prove her point.
“Not Kindergarten” I said. “They still only mostly color and trace numbers and letters.”
“Listen to stories, play at the park, dance” Marie agreed.
“So why are we crying?” Jenna asked out loud.
“Could these be tears of happiness?” Marie seemed enlightened. “Are we happy that our kids are finally away from home, without costing a bomb for… staying away?” She was clearly referring to expensive pre-school and day care.
All of us looked at each other. That could very well have been the reason.
“Or are we just feeling liberated, that we can finally read a book without disturbance, or use the toilet without the fear of the little kid barging in any minute or communicating from across the door?” Jenna tried.
“Oh, mine asks me so many questions from outside, and she wants me to see her paintings, right that minute!” Marie empathized.
“Let’s see what they have to say in the evening, when they come back from school” I said, already knowing what my daughter would say. She wouldn’t want to come home. There were so many kids at school. At home, I was the only other kid, and I wasn’t very good at being one. I didn’t whine loud enough and I couldn’t ride her little bike with training wheels.
We bid our good-byes and met again at pick-up.
“Feel liberated yet?” I asked the ladies.
“I cried a little in the car” Jenna said. “But once I reached home and saw the mess in her room, I was back to being the screamer. Only, it felt a little sad that I didn’t know who to aim it at.”
“I could actually hear my kitchen cloth fall on the floor.” Lisa was thrilled. All the tears from the morning seemed to have disappeared with the onset of reality.
“I wrote.” I said. “It felt so good, not having to share my laptop with anybody, because they also wanted to write a letter to their mom, me, at that very instant. I forgot how blissful it was to be in your own company.”
“Here comes the class!” Marie pointed out excitedly.
The kids looked so adorable, walking in a line, holding hands. With backpacks and lunch bags, the kids looked like… big kids. My daughter was talking to a new friend, oblivious to my presence. She was so engrossed in the animated discussion.
“Is that another tear, Mom from India*?” Lisa asked.
“Yeah” I said. “I love her to bits and she looks so happy. And also, I was so engrossed in work today, I forgot something basic. I badly need to go to the toilet now, and she won’t let me.”
*All names of moms changed to preserve their identity and protect them from any awkward discussions this may lead to when the kids are able to search the internet.
Photo Credit: Wiki