For the first time the other day I began to fear the first day of school. You hear the stories or moms sending their sons and daughters off to that daunting first day of kindergarten and then getting back in their cars and crying all the way home. I used to find those tales just a little bit humorous. How could they possibly be crying when I would feel like a party was in order? As much as I love my kid and want to keep her cuddled up in my safe little cuccoon...I sure wouldn't mind a few moments of freedom. That is, until I realized just how close I am to facing that reality.
In the last couple of months I have been repeatedly blown away by the rate at which Little Lady is learning. She recognizes many letters in her books and has most of them memorized. She can understand some fairly complex emotional concepts. And she can usually count objects fairly accurately. It seems like rarely a week will pass without me wondering how my not quite two and a half year old can come up with these things. Especially when I feel that I do so little in the way of actually teaching the little tyke. In fact, the other day at a moms group several of the ladies asked me how it was possible that my daughter was speaking so clearly and using such advanced language at her age. Had I spent a lot of time talking to her and reading to her as a baby? Did I constantly converse with the child and work on word skills? My answer was a very emphatic and somewhat guilty, no. When Little Lady was a baby I often felt incredibly bad about the fact that I just didn't feel comfortable talking to a baby that starred blankly back at me.I hardly ever talked to her except for the basics and the occasional times that I would get out books. So you see, it has nothing to do with me that my daughter is apparently smart. Poor kid, imagine where she could be if she had the kind of mother who actually worked on all those things with her!?
Anyway, driving by a school the other day it suddenly hit me. It won't be long before I will be sending my baby into one of those so called institutes of learning. I nearly passed out from a panic attack! What if she has a terrible teacher? What if the other kids are horrible and mean? What if she is horrible and mean? (I am the first to admit that even the gentlest toddlers can become teenage girls who are absolute and utter terrors). Suddenly it all seemed very scary.
Then today she took another step towards school. While I was tidying up upstairs she told me she was "Going to school. I have class." And proceeded to go downstairs and play. This is something she has never done before because she is very much a mommy's girl and only recently even began playing in her bedroom alone, never mind venturing into the basement by herself. A little while later when I went to check on her I was surprised at what I saw.
She actually was pretending to be in school. Something I have never showed her. She had pulled out a pile of educational toys (we have them because I sell them....not because I actually ever use them with her except for on very rare occasions) and had figured almost all of them out! Spread across the floor were flash cards where she had matched coloured objects, shapes of objects, and adding objects. Each card filled out completely correctly!
As proud as I am of the progress she is making I felt a pang as I realized how quickly my Little Lady has become not so little anymore. Sure she still is a snuggler who can be glued to me at the hip and has yet to outgrow her attachment to my breast as well. And she isn't all academic either, in fact at this moment she is picking through a pile of purses while applying layers of pretend make-up before taking her baby's "out for a walk up town to go shopping." But bit by bit she is gaining her independence and stretching those gossamere wings. Before I know it she'll be a full grown butterfly ready to leave my little cuccoon and test out the freedom of flight. I will be the one sitting in my car crying as I watch my daughter dance up the school steps. And suddenly I understand why those mothers are sad.