Memories and Kindergarten Orientation

By Veronica

Last week I took my oldest daughter to kindergarten orientation.

I did not sleep well the night before. I lay in bed, rigid and worried. I could not relax. I could not break my mind from thinking of all the things that might go wrong.

We seriously considered homeschooling. My sister and my sister-in-law both homeschool. My parents pressured us to homeschool. I respect homeschooling parents, at least the ones who do it well. I don’t believe in a single, one-size-fits-all education. Different options suit different children best, and we were willing to consider all our options.

We settled on a public school education. An excellent public magnet school accepted our daughter, and she will receive instruction there that would require expensive private lessons anywhere else. Once we knew that a good school was an option, I considered my own strengths and weaknesses. My natural tendencies are to overprotect my children and give them very little independence, so I decided that beginning her in public school could provide necessary growth for both of us. We can re-evaluate at the end of the year and decide whether public school is working for her or not.

But the night before her kindergarten orientation, I lay awake and worried. What if she were frightened? What if she got lost? What if her teacher only saw the nuisance of her high energy, and not her bright, inquisitive mind and cheerful spirit?

Worst of all, what if she were bullied?

I was bullied as a child. My parents moved us from a suburb of a major city to a small midwestern town where everyone knew each other and nonconformity was not tolerated. I was a smart, stringy-haired tomboy in a town that wanted girls to be sweetly girly and unimaginative. I was not okay. The idea of my daughter ever being the target of the kind of cruelty I experienced makes me feel like there is a big claw squeezing my entrails.

In the morning we left for the school, my daughter chirpily cheerful, while I feigned excitement.

I parked the car in the lot. When i got out, I noticed a bar on the corner. I had been to that bar once. It was fourteen years ago. I was with a group of other graduate students, including the bearded, blue-eyed man I later married. I remember sitting with my friends, feeling interested in this guy, but suspicious of him, too. He was not the kind of guy I was used to. I remembered the anxiety I felt, sometimes almost panicking, when we decided to marry. I remember the nights I lay awake, worrying about whether marrying him was the right thing to do.

I did not know then that marrying him would be the smartest I’ve ever done.

I looked again at the bar. I took my little girl’s hand, stood up a little straighter, and walked her into school.

When Veronica has not worried herself into a lather, and sometimes even when she has, she blogs at Toddled Dredge.

11 Responses to Memories and Kindergarten Orientation
  1. allysha
    May 19, 2009 | 9:56 am

    It’s so hard, isn’t it? I about died the day my daughter went off on the bus without me, just her little 5 year-old self waving in the window. And then suddenly it was the normal thing to do, and she was fine and I was fine and yikes! I have to do it all over again this year with my second child.

  2. Amelia's Crumbs
    May 19, 2009 | 10:29 am

    I am having a similar freak-out about Boo starting kindergarten next year. I was bullied terribly in middle school and the idea of that happening to my sensitive, sweet-natured boy makes me a bit psycho. We too, made our decision after much deliberation, but I haven’t found any peace in it. This was a lovely post.

  3. Jennifer
    May 19, 2009 | 6:44 pm

    It’s so hard to allow them to enter situations in which they might — in fact probably will — get hurt, isn’t it?

  4. Beck
    May 21, 2009 | 11:39 am

    I had a terrible time at school – so awful that I’d always vowed to homeschool, but come four years old, my daughter went off to school. THE SAME ONE I WENT TO.

    And it’s been different for her.

    There are random things that you can’t predict that can make your child’s life a misery but for the most part, social success is fairly easy to help along in the early grades. And yes, heart-renching things have happened to her, but for the most part, school HAS been a good thing for her.

  5. Checking In With The Sisters
    May 21, 2009 | 3:06 pm

    […] this time. Veronica writes about her daughter’s kindergarden orientation this week at 5 Minutes for Parenting and it is one not to be missed! How do you deal with challenges that face you in life? If […]

  6. Jane
    May 23, 2009 | 1:59 pm

    I am not yet a mom, just a fan of your regular blog and an veteran teacher. I haven’t personally experienced the feeling of strapping a backpack your very own heart and sending it out into the world without you. However, I have seen that look in mother’s eyes for so many years that I can almost feel your anxiety reading this.

    I too was bullied- in fifth grade. Several years ago, I was assigned to teach fifth grade after 8 years in kinder and first grades. I needed the job so I couldn’t say no or run away which was my first instinct. I don’t think I have ever been so scared. What I learned however, is that those painful feelings were instrumental in shaping the classroom I wanted to have. My own personal bully story is the most powerful anti-bully tool I have. First and foremost, it lets the bullied child know they are not alone. And, on occasion, it has reduced a bully to genuine tears of remorse and serious consideration of their actions.

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