Thursday, April 1, 2010


Today Miles, who will be 12 next month, is touring middle school in anticipation of being a seventh grader next year. Tomorrow I will sign up Hugh for kindergarten classes.

Miles is excited about signing up for elective classes: communications, maybe journalism, but anything to do with computers. He has poured himself all over the pages of the class description catalogue and talked excitedly about riding the bus and meeting up with friends from other elementary schools. He's so excited and I am, too. I think he will take off in middle school. Its his time to grow up a little more and he's ready and I think the transition will be okay. Well, FOR HIM, at least.

It seems that I was registering Miles for kindergarten just days ago. I realize that's a trite mom thing to say, but it doesn't make it less true. Miles' kindergarten assessment was unusually stressful for me. He was my kid who taught himself to read at 3 1/2 and lived in England the year before and, as a result, didn't get together with other kids his age very much for very long. He had spent most of his time translating Owen's indecipherable language for the rest of us and telling us the order of the planets in the solar system. What a sweet, innocent little boy, and I was sending him into the awful, mean cruel world of kindergarten, or so I thought at the time. When the kindergarten teacher came out of his initial assessment and said "I can't teach this kid anything! He's ready for first grade!" My heart sunk. We talked the issue over with a first grade teacher, Mrs. Hale, who was a friend of mine, luckily, and decided to try first grade the next day.

That night I ran to Walmart (which is always a mistake) and bought him a Spongebob lunchbox and first grade supplies to make it special. In my mind, I kept thinking, "I'm not ready for this. This means I get one less year with him. One less year before he's off to college. I lost a year!" I put on a brave face and walked him to first grade the next day. It was the second day of school for everyone else and Mrs. Hale had a place all set for him. I went home and cried all day. I know it seems dramatic, but I really did. I thought about him and his little moon baby face and his constant enthusiasm to try anything and I just cried. I went to pick him up at the end of the day and he was standing there with Mrs. Hale who just put her hands on his shoulders shaking her head back and forth saying, "No, no, no, no, no!" She told me, "He's not ready for first grade. He's a foot shorter than the rest of the kids. At recess he just clung by my side all by himself and didn't play with anyone." I fought back the tears imagining Miles all by himself on the playground. Ouch. But Miles just smiled up at me like nothing bothered him in the world. When I asked him how it went he just said "Great!"

We put him back into kindergarten and he had a great year. His reading improved. Turns out, just because you can read, doesn't mean your comprehension rate is as high as well, so he did learn a lot. He has always excelled in school, but this year turned out to be great because he learned to make friends and be silly and use scissors and learn to take turns when talking. Stuff that some kids never learn. I still believe that if I had kept him in first grade, he would have been fine. That's Miles. But I'm so glad we didn't. Because I still get that "one more" year.

Miles is a wonderful kid to have come first because he's so confident and takes transitions well unlike his mother who struggles with transition. So he can spend the day being excited about 7th grade at middle school, and I will go to Target (I've learned my Walmart lesson) and NOT buy him a Spongebob lunchbox (or give it to Hugh), but something "cool" instead and try not to take his growing up on me so personally, which is apparently a lesson I have to learn over and over again.


  1. I've read a lot of blog posts, but yours today really spoke to me. It made me reflect on my own tender feelings for my children, but especially my oldest (who is in 1st grade and my only child in the school system)--when sending him off he seemed so vulnerable and eager. It seemed to me that the great big, bad world would just swallow him up. I, too, need to learn not to take his growing-up so personally. Thanks.

  2. I'm coming out of blog lurkdom to comment. I've enjoyed your blog ever since LRS ended. I also lurk on all your siblings-in-law blogs. (I do know Courtney in person)

    Your post was a walk down memory lane for me. My oldest is now almost 32, but she did skip kindergarten because she also learned to read before she was five. So at the tender age of five she got on a "giant" school bus and headed off to a private school in Seoul, Korea! I had to stifle the tears until the bus was out of sight.

    I have to say that the first is the hardest; I didn't struggle as much with the other five starting school. But it was also hard when she left home for the first time and when she got married I really missed her. The "firsts" of everything are the hardest.

    Although my youngest is going off to college in the fall and I'm finding myself a little emotional about that. My main job for 32 years is changing drastically.

  3. Just found your blog a few weeks ago. I feel the exact same way about wal-mart! and you are hilarious. My oldest is in 5th grade this year and it's been a hard thing for me to let him grow up. I don't know how time goes so fast. Who hit the fast forward button? Thanks for your post. It's good to know I'm not alone! :)

  4. Lisa - I TOTALLY remember when that happened to Miles. It made me sad. I can't believe he is an awesome middle-schooler now. Soon, he will have a girlfriend, which I know is like a dagger to your heart.

  5. You have out paced me by one, and I will have JUST the 5th, 2nd, and K next year, but HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?! Seriously? It was JUST last week we were in Hester's Song and you were a dramaturg. Seriously, how do we have kindergarteners, and when did you get to have a kid who got old enough to NOT carry a Spongebob lunch box and NOT think it was cool?

    It baffles me how we got this far, and I am still trying to get past the baffled. I'm trying to decide if I should keep the kindergartener home one more year because his birthday is in mid-August. I am NOT old enough for these huge mom decisions! :D