It finally happened. I’ve been waiting for it all summer. The meltdown. You see, everything has been going way too smoothly. I knew it was only a matter of time. Last night at bedtime Zoey lost it. It was her last day at daycare and I think it finally occurred to her that her life is going to be different: this kindergarten thing is for real and it’s freakin’ scary.
Ever since preschool graduation in June, Zo has been telling anyone who asks-and some who didn’t-how excited she is to start kindergarten. Honestly, I was relieved. I was sure she was going to be super nervous and dwell on her fears all summer long. But she didn’t do that. She seemed really confident, which is not like her at all. I should have known.
She talked about taking the bus and meeting her teacher and new friends. She even knows one little girl who is going to be in her class and gave a huge “Whoo hoo” when I told her. When I created a visual countdown using a chain made out of construction paper, she jumped for joy and looked forward to taking a ring off of it every night. I kept thinking to myself, “Who is this girl?”
Two weeks before school was supposed to start, our daycare informed us that they would not be providing transportation from the elementary schools back to the afterschool program. I started to get a little nervous. With all the changes that were going on, I was depending on the daycare she had been at since she was an infant to be the steady port in the storm; somewhere she could retreat to when the long day of new experiences was over. Now, not only is she going to a new school with new kids and a new teacher, she’s going to take a bus to a new after school program. I broke the news to her gently and built up the new adventure. She was still happy and excited.
Then came last night. She took another ring off her countdown chain as normal-Yay! Only one more day until school starts! But then she started to cry a little, then a lot. She was sobbing that she didn’t want to go to kindergarten and why couldn’t she just keep going to Apple Tree? She said she was afraid, that she would miss us, and that she DIDN’T. WANT. TO. GO! It broke my husband’s and my heart. I had to fight back tears of my own. I always thought that there would be some tears and some fears that would finally surface, but I was unprepared for how raw and painful the emotion would be for her.
We reassured her that it was an exciting adventure, that she would have a lot of fun. Thank goodness there is a meet and greet at the school today. She will meet her teacher and see her classroom. I think that will help with some of this scary unknown. Given that she is an introvert, I am grateful for this event. I was like this when I was a kid too with new experiences. I cried at first, but once I warmed up, I didn’t want my parents to pick me up-ever! (Hello, Summer Camp? I’m talkin’ to you.) I’m hoping that she will be the same way.
The plan is for her to take the bus to school in the morning, and then take the bus to the YMCA after school. I will be ready with the camera to take a picture of her in her new outfit as she bravely steps up to the bus and waves goodbye. But what else should I be ready for? I’m almost certain that there will be tears. But what if she has an uncontrollable meltdown? Do I take her off the bus and drive her to school myself? Ugh I don’t want to be THAT mom but I don’t want to torture my girl either! I’m going to have to trust my instincts on this one, I know. I want her to be brave and face her fears because I know she can handle this, but can I?