February 24, 2012

Being New

                          Will it ever get old?

The last time I walked into an unfamiliar school clutching a folder filled with important personal information it was many years ago and I was on my way to a job interview.  Today I once again walked from a visitors' parking lot to the locked front door of a new school.  Years of parking in a staff lot and gaining unfettered access to the building have made me forget just how conspicuous, how anxiety-producing this activity can be.

It wasn't a long walk but I had enough time to reflect how much my life has changed.  Here I was about to register my son for kindergarten, and yet I wanted to pinch myself to make sure this whole motherhood thing wasn't a dream.  I guess when you spend two decades waiting and wanting a child, five years isn't quite enough time to make it feel real.  (Of course, there are some sleepless nights and some days too, when I wish it felt a little less real.)

One would think that with all I've done on my own, something small like registering my son at the local public school would not throw me for a loop.  But it did.  Clearly, no matter how academically ready he is, I am not ready for kindergarten.  I'm not ready for my little boy to have an ID number assigned to him.  I'm not ready for him to have a school file that can be accessed by people who have never even met him. 

I'm not ready  for Henry to become just another statistic used in a complex funding formula.  I'm not ready to complete the form indicating his race because if I refuse "a school representative will make visual identification" and complete the form for me.  Under penalty of law. 

It's all so harsh. So impersonal.  Although I made the appointment as requested, I'm not ready to have my son screened for readiness by a stranger.*  If he's not ready, what will they do?  Make him go to summer school?  Before kindergarten?  Under penalty of law?

I don't want him to ride the bus.
   Sign him up anyway.  You can't do it later.  Under penalty of law.
   You can't pick him up? You're a what? Working mom? Oh. 
   Sign here for aftercare.
I'll think about it.
  We have to know by March 1st.  Under penalty of law.

I don't think I can do this.  What's wrong with these people?  Don't they know who he is?  When they look at him, don't they see what I see?  A baby bundled against the cold, sleeping as I rock his car seat gently from side to side while I wait to be driven home from the hospital?  What's wrong with these people?  Clearly they're not getting the picture...

*Ironically, I've conducted hundreds of these screenings in my career.


  1. Kindergarten is one of the hardest milestones for us moms, I think. And, despite having worked in child care, despite an early childhood development education background, nothing prepared me for the first day of kindergarten.
    This fall, when my little one and Henry start kindy, can we meet for a stiff drink and share a box of tissues?

  2. This post made me cry. Why is it that the years (decades) while we waited to become mothers seemed an eternity yet the years since their birth fly by in the blink of an eye?

  3. Your post touched my heart in a way I can't even express, Lara. These momentous periods in our lives seem to just be mere blips in the road to those around us. It just boggles my mind how we all go along through our lives amidst all the change around us...though now that I'm a mom I try so hard to make mental note of all that is changing. Because though the days seem long, the years are so short.