Posted by: Ingrid | August 25, 2015

I’m not ready for Kindergarten


I found this picture from one of my first days of kindergarten.  I am, strangely enough, the one in yellow, not in line, although I thought by this age I had learned to play by all the rules.

I can close my eyes and recount exactly where things were in Mrs. Bross’ kindergarten classroom in Watertown, South Dakota.  I could draw you a map; the coatroom, the tables and chairs where we painstakingly wrote out our letters, the chair near the semicircular window where we listened, enrapt, to Shel Silverstein’s poetry.

I remember the playground games played, the scope of the playground.

I remember the gym turned cafeteria; the embarrassment of the sprout and peanut butter sandwich and the rope I dangled from but never managed to climb.

I have no recollection of what I actually felt as I went off to kindergarten.  Was I nervous?  Excited?  Anxious?  Whatever I was, it has nothing on what I feel now, as a mother, about to send my first born child off to kindergarten in a day.

And how can it be this ridiculously hard and sentimental?  This kindergarten sending off has happened repeatedly for a really long time.  But what else can so quickly make you remember that this independent six year old was this little, this fragile, this dependent on you for… everything.  And this is after three stints of preschool, including one that spanned from 8 am to 2:30 pm.  When he was four.  You would think I’d have a grip on this, but I don’t.

I agonized (and I don’t use that verb lightly) over school the entire year.  Our choices in our neck of the plains involve A) the one public school and B) homeschool.  Option C) send your child to a tiny town within 30 miles for a smaller class size/better academics/better sports was effectively taken off the table because we seem to have a high number of kids in the various small towns entering kindergarten.

Only two options would seem to eliminate the decision making, no?  Until you factor in that I was homeschooled from third grade on, that I effectively whittled down my educational goals from pediatrician (no nanny is going to raise my children, said sixteen year old Ingrid), to nurse, to elementary education major, because obviously you got married and had babies at 21 and then homeschooled your children and wouldn’t a degree in education be just super?  Unless life doesn’t turn out that way.  Unless your child is suddenly ready for kindergarten and you sit there with the dual realization that nearly everyone you know is homeschooling their child and that, if you attempt to do the same either you or your child will not live to see the end of the year.

I carried the guilt through the year and tried to figure it out.  I am obviously intelligent enough.  I know how to plan and find curriculum and I am capable.  I even have a stupid degree.  Why could everyone else manage it?  What would people think?  What would my mother say if she were alive?

But in the end if came down to this, as I was mentally berating myself (again) for not being sacrificial enough to want to homeschool.  Didn’t I love my child?  Didn’t I want what was best for him?  Wouldn’t I give my life’s blood for my kid?  And something about the phrase “life’s blood” made me realize that the twists and turns and changes that our life has taken over the past six years have felt like a constant hemorrhage.  So yes, I would give my life’s blood but there just… isn’t much left.  And tackling my child’s education single-handedly without a supportive and interconnected community shoring me up seemed like a poor way to do triage as well as a significant short change to my child.  Could I guilt myself into homeschooling with gritted teeth and make it through?  Probably.  Would it be better if I sent my child off to kindergarten, to his (truly) amazing teacher who I am so thankful he was placed with, and actually want to talk and hear from him and help him at the end of the day because I’ve not completely bled out?  Probably.  Does that still come with all sorts of guilt and terror that I am making the wrong choice.  Probably.

So I am nervous, probably more than he is, about this new change to our family schedule.  I am sure, deep down, that this is a good choice and the best we could make for where we are as a family, but it’s still hard and still comes with its collection of regrets and “what ifs”.

Tonight I will make sure that his back pack is ready to go, his lunch is packed, and breakfast is ready to cook for tomorrow morning.  And then I will drop him off at his playground and wait to hear about all the new things he learned at the end of the day.  And I will try not to think too hard about the fact it seemed like he was just a baby the other day.  Labor and delivery have nothing on kindergarten autonomy.  Who knew?





  1. Homeschooling would not be best for me or my child. Although, like you, I am capable and even qualified. He will love it. And you will too! 🙂

  2. Thanks, Greta! I appreciate the moral support!

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