Six years ago at this time I was eagerly approaching my due date. I can still remember the extreme discomfort of being pregnant. In August. In hot, humid Hampton Roads, Virginia. I just wanted to touch my toes damn it! And despite the discomfort, I was so thankful to feel it's kicks and jabs on a regular basis.
But the mantra of my days still remained along the lines of "For crying out loud, COME ON BABY! GET OUT! ". I was so ready to know if I was having a boy or girl. I was so ready to be a mom. I was so ready to hold that ball of baby stuffed into my ever expanding stomach.
Then, in a blink of an eye, that long overdue baby (a week is a long time in baby expecting time) started kindergarten. And he did it like a seasoned pro.
With both the hubby and I having teaching backgrounds, education is something that is not taken lightly in our household. For many years I could not fathom educating my children in any way other than homeschooling. Then, two years ago we moved to an area with much better public schools, and yet I still didn't feel close to comfortable with the idea of public education.
Nothing about public schools felt right for Mannchen. As a baby/toddler/preschooler he was highly sensitive to a need for consistency and rhythm - hence why I am so drawn to Waldorf Education. Public school felt too big for him. Too pushy. Too test driven. He's a creative little thinker - always engineering some elaborate train set-up (today it climbed onto his shelves) or creating a transformer/robot out of art supplies and recycling bin items (he's been working on it for months and I have to resist the daily temptation to chuck all that mess into the trash, for fear of it ruining his creativity). I just couldn't picture him in a formal school setting - desks, limited recess times, being taught to a test, etc. He's a sensitive, introverted soul and a strong affinity for his mama. And as a youngster, he seemed to lack confidence.
But with the hubby being in graduate school, I had to find a preschool for both kids while I worked. Our first year here my mom watched the kids, but due to health reasons and her sanity, preschool started to look like the best option. Looking back on it, being pushed towards preschool was the best thing for our family. We were fortunate enough to find a preschool that fit our wants and needs exactly. Honestly, I cannot imagine a more perfect preschool experience for my kids. LOVE their preschool. Mannchen was able to grow in a safe setting. Töchterchen was able to have the daily social interactions she craves.
At his fifth birthday, Mannchen was still so clingy, so attached to home and family. As the school year went on, he gradually started to detach. By the spring, he was even ready to look at his teacher when talking with her. By the end of the school year, he really seemed to begin to "grow into himself". His physical developments began to blossom and with that, his confidence.
At the start of the summer, I was still on the fence about public schools. I knew homeschooling was out for us, but there's a wonderful little private school in town. I placed him on the waiting list and crossed my fingers.
Then, through various experiences this summer, Mannchen showed us that he was ready for public school in every possible way. He is physically ready for desk learning. He has begun his change of teeth. His body proportions have changed. He can tie his shoes. He loves sports and does well with the skills needed to play them. (Read this first grade readiness list for more of the changes and developments I was looking for to determine school readiness.) He is mentally ready for the decoding required to learn to read. He is confident of who he is and rooted in his physical and emotional self. About two weeks ago, I couldn't imagine anything other than public education for him. He was so eager to be a part of the larger group setting.
And so this morning, I pulled up to the front of his elementary school and he unbuckled himself, grabbed his backpack, and gave me a quick kiss before hopping out of the car with confidence. I watched him walk right towards the front doors, knowing exactly where he was headed. No longer the overly cautious and tentative child he was in his first phase of life.
And it all felt right. Just right. But damn it happened fast.