The Little Things: Confessions of a Kindergarten Screening

“Enjoy the little things in life for one day you may look back and see they were the big things.”  





No joke. The quote above was on a wooden plaque at the refreshment table at kindergarten orientation this week. As I filled my coffee, tears streamed down my face. Nothing summarized my feeling that day better.  Depending  on how many children you are blessed with, you are only given so many special days. Milestones like birthdays, graduations, awards, performances and athletics of all seasons come close together and often at first but soon space out a little more. Some changes are easy and almost un-ceremonial— the movement from crib to bed— the movement from formula to milk. And before you know it, they are eating off of real plates with real silverware and wiped their face with a napkin all on their own.

I’ve had a lump in my throat developing since I signed Parker up for Kindergarten. It was such a startling watershed for me- being thrust into the school age years. I felt sad that the little red headed baby boy I used to nuzzle was now a little man.  The little face I wiped yogurt and peas and applesauce and boogers off of was now the face of a kindergartener, a boy who can write his name and count to 20 and make friends all on his own.

If my next couple months could have a hashtag, it would be #imnotreadyforthis. This feels big. The departure from the preschool years is a sad goodbye for me. There was such sweetness and purity to seeing your child make their way through preschool. I saw him sing at his Christmas pageant, host his grandparents at the grandparent luncheon and march with his classmates in a Halloween parade. 
This past Friday, I walked in with a little boy into kindergarten screening and I walked out with a kid ready for school. And it’s such a cumbersome and uncomfortable type of excitement. It’s like handing over something of value that you are so incredibly proud of but are not so sure you want to give away. You think you have prepared yourself for the hand-off, the release. Anxiously, however, you gaze at your project of the past five years and think, “is it time–already?”
I sat in a row of chairs with paperwork to keep me occupied and watched as family after family were guided around with their little person. I thought how in a year, I would be in the same set of chairs doing it all over again for Celia. Life just continues on like that, I guess. Little people grow up and go to school. The circle of life. 
But somehow, in that  gym as I sipped my coffee and gulped back tears, I knew this: something is over. And I have to accept it. And mourn it. And embrace it.
What’s over is this: my time as a Mom of “small” kids. Small kids usually fit into the category of infant, toddler or preschooler. Only for one more year will that be true. It’s officially and startingly the end of an era. I feel a desperation I thought only came with graduation day or dropping your child off at college.
It’s fair to say I’m hyper-emotive in times like these. I was awarded my sorority’s  “Sap Dog” award for my quick tears and sentimentality. I like writing long, important verses to friends in birthday cards.  I like to feel things through tears. I don’t enjoy being sad, but I do think the catharsis that comes with feeling something is a good feeling. As Jimmy Valzano said in his ESPY speech before his death, “If you laugh, you think and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.” That’s what I believe about my sappy tendency. It helps me connect with these moments in my life to the fullest. 
As “sad” as the day was, this was the way the rest of it went. My son saw three friends he knew in the school on our way out, he and I went out to a lunch by ourselves and had lovely conversation. Then, we got lost in a bookstore together– one of my personal favorite things to do. 
It ended with a walk by a boutique where we both noticed a locket. “You should get this Mommy, I like it.” It has a spot inside for both of their little faces. It was not a tough sell. I told him I would get it so I could remember this day forever. 
The little things in life ARE the big things. Fleeting, slippery little things. Sometimes we have to look up from laundry and dishes and grocery shopping for a minute to catch these pieces of life. For its these pieces that will make a real live “big” person one day. 
So, the clock’s ticking. Four more months before little Parker takes on his own big little part of life. 

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