Kindergarten, You’re Breaking My Heart

I’m dreading August.  The thought of it pops into my mind like a firecracker whose ashes then fall heavily on my heart.  The thought of it makes my stomach turn over and my eyes fill up.  The thought of it causes an ache, the extent of which surprises even me.

In August, my middle child starts Kindergarten.

Having an older child, I have been down this road before.  I’ve dealt with the first day of school, with walking into the classroom, a hand in mine, and leaving alone with nothing but hope and a prayer.  I’ve made it through opening the front door into the silence of the house, knowing it will stay that way until 3 pm and that the silence will be repeated every day for five straight days.

I’ve witnessed first-hand the change that happens as a child begins to break out of the home and ventures out into the world, how little of his day is left to be spent in the freedom that consumed the entirety of his life.

I’ve watched homework and extra activities and friends slowly fill in the hours that used to be spent doing Nothing, the glorious Nothing of childhood.

And I detest that process.

I know I should be excited to watch his future begin to unfold, to watch his horizons broaden with all that he will learn.  I should smile through the ache of watching his life move on.

And I will.  I know where I should be, and I will get there.

But my heart breaks for what will be left behind, for the “us” that will be left behind…our stolen time, the time most mothers and children do not have the privilege of spending together because careers and schools stand in the way.

My heart breaks for all the ducks that will go unfed at the park on weekdays.  I fancy that they will wonder where their little blonde friend has gone, the one whose gleeful cackle-chuckle echoed through the trees and out across the lake.

My heart breaks for our walks through the neighborhood together, conducted to the background symphony of birds chirping and lawnmowers buzzing, his never-ending search for the very best stick, and the way he leap-hops on ahead of me lost in his own little world.

My heart breaks for our mornings together, snuggled up on the couch after his big brother has left for school, with nowhere we have to be and nothing we have to do.

Now that acceptance letters have arrived and fall plans are starting to be made, health forms filled out and turned in, I sadly commence the countdown of our last weeks before this big Change, and one story in particular keeps surfacing in my thoughts.

One summer I read the boys The Complete Stories of Winnie the Pooh, a story each day until we reached the end.  In the last story of the book, Christopher Robin’s friends have come to the realization that Christopher Robin is “going away,” although in typical A. A. Milne fashion, nobody knows why he is going or where he is going.  Christopher Robin and Pooh spend one last sweet afternoon, just the two of them {and the illustrations are beautiful}, during which Christopher Robin tells Pooh how much he enjoys doing Nothing, but that he won’t be doing it anymore “because they won’t let you.”

With our children, we get to be children again too.  We get to relive the freedom and unencumbered playfulness of childhood, and we get to do it all over again with the people who reside in our hearts and our souls and whose very smiles light us up in ways we never could have imagined.  As we watch them grow up, we also relive that process, except that we know, with the clarity of hindsight, all that is truly left behind.

So, August, forgive me for dreading your arrival.  I’m not quite ready to let him go.

So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.

– The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne



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