Nothing makes you feel like your baby is no longer a baby than getting kindergarten registration paperwork in the mail. Seriously, I felt a panic attack coming on and immediately pushed the packet under a stack of junk mail and sent my husband a text with a sad face emoji.
Let’s back track a bit. My husband and I have been talking about kindergarten for a year. Should we send Ev to kindergarten in the fall or wait a year? I had worries like the size of the school and the amount of children. Older children. Who would be on the playground with my baby? Does Ev need to learn how to carry a lunch tray with plates of food balanced on top? Will I be able to walk Ev to his classroom or will I have to drop him off at the door?
All of this has been running through my head and it just felt like we weren’t ready. We struggled when thinking about Ev’s development. Cognitively he seems ready but socially and emotionally, not so much. We started asking ourselves questions like what’s more important—to stimulate his cognitive development or support his social emotional development? Other parents have told us that they wished they would have waited to send their child to kindergarten, but we have never heard someone say they wished they would have sent their child a year earlier.
On the surface this seems like an easy answer. Just wait a year. But it’s not that easy. We live in the Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) district and we really want Ev to attend one of the magnet schools. Up until this year, that required camping out for two weeks because their registration for magnet schools was on a first come/first serve basis. But this year CPS changed the process. Since our minds weren’t made up yet we thought (like many parents I’m sure) what the heck? So we filled out the application and went on with our lives. CPS announced that they received a record breaking amount of applications and they were working on plans to have more seats in magnet schools but we counted ourselves out and just figured we would wait to send Ev to kindergarten another year.
He got in. He got a spot at our first choice. Since we don’t want to lose our spot at the school we decided to enroll him. The magnet school we chose is a Montessori-based program and the kindergarten also includes preschool-aged children. That reassures us that the teachers will be able to support Ev’s social and emotional needs while also providing the academic standards that we are looking for. And after that year if we feel like he isn’t ready for first grade, we won’t send him; whether that means keeping him in the same room another year or sending him to a private school for a year.
I feel confident in this decision. But when that registration paperwork came in the mail, it just made it real. My baby is going to kindergarten in six months. He is ready. But that doesn’t mean I am.