Oh, Son. My youngest. The baby.
For nearly five years now, I have worked hard to keep you small every chance I have had. I still walk around behind you cleaning up your messes, kiss the most ridiculous boo-boos, and let you sleep in my bed. While your older brother was forced to become more independent early on because “the baby” was coming, you did not have the same expectations. Instead, you were and in many ways still are “the baby”. And, I have treated you as such, in part because I regret forcing your brother to mature so quickly—after all, you are only small once—and in part because I am not ready for all of my children to be grown just yet.
But, soon, you will don new clothes and a backpack that is big enough to swallow you whole, and you, my dear baby, will head off to kindergarten.
I will not just tear up as I hug you goodbye before sending you off to swim in a sea of older, bigger kids on your way into the building with hallways and classrooms that previously seemed normal-sized, but will now appear to be gigantic as your tiny body navigates through them. Instead, I will likely be unable to stop the tears from flowing freely down my cheeks … realizing that there is no turning back. All of those years that I held you in my arms, rocked you to sleep, changed your diapers, sang you sweet lullabies, played peek-a-boo … those years that seemed like an eternity when they were happening, but now seem to have passed in the blink of an eye …. Those years that made up the first chapter of your life … A chapter that is now closing.
But worry not, my son, a new chapter is also just beginning.
I am excited about the endless possibilities that abound for us, and for you. Not only does this day mark the first day in seven years that your father and I have not paid for our child’s care and/or education, but it also marks new beginnings, new adventures, as you finally make your way and become the big kid that I know you desperately want to be. For months now, when we have driven past the school, you have exclaimed, “There’s MY school!” And, tomorrow, it finally will be.
Although I am a bit nervous about how this big change will go for you, especially given that you have hid behind your brother socially for years now and how sensitive you can be, I have little doubt that you will rise to the occasion, as you have every time that you have been challenged before this. You will make new friends. You will learn new things. You will listen to new stories. You will create. You will recite all the letters and count all the numbers. You will eat lunch in a gigantic cafeteria. You will play on the play scape at recess. You will laugh. You will cry. But most of all, you will be okay. And, so will I.
And, at the end of most days, you will come home excited to tell me all about the happenings of kindergarten. You will tell me who you played with at recess, who you sat with at lunch, who got spoken to by the teacher, who forgot to do their homework, who won an award, etc. You will tell me what you did well, what you struggled with, who your best friend is, and how nice your teacher is.
Other days, you will come home exhausted … Tired of being so grown all day. And on those days, I hope that you will fall comfortably into my arms, just as you have always done, safe in the knowledge that with me, you do not have to be grown.
You are my baby.
… Even if you are a big kindergartener now.