My Son Went to Kindergarten….. 12 Years Ago…

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For all the mommy bloggers lamenting their babies going to Kindergarten, I present you all with this – today my son turned 18.  And 5 days ago he started his Senior Year of high school.  I’ll be honest, I was more emotional when he started high school four years ago.  I’ve read, with a bit of a smirk, the emotion filled blogs worrying about leaving their child at Kindergarten.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they don’t have a point because Kindergarten is the first “let go” moment of many to come.  But I’ve hit the rapid decline stage of “letting go” so I’m allowed to smirk a little.

One of the mommy bloggers was talking about how she “wasted” the first five years of her daughter’s life; why hadn’t she appreciated every trip to the coffee shop even if they ended in tantrums and how could she have blown through potty training so quickly without even blinking?  I laugh.  I laugh not because she doesn’t have a valid point but because she’s doing what I’ve been doing over the last four years.  I’ve seen pre-K kids at stores and their exasperated parents just trying to get five minutes of tantrum free grocery shopping done and I would catch myself thinking “oh I miss those times.”  And I’ve resisted the urge to tell them “enjoy it while you can,” because when people used to tell my former frustrated self that in a store I had to resist the urge to punch them.

The truth is, I don’t miss having to pack a baby bag filled with four outfit changes, 22 diapers, diaper rash cream, wet wipes, scented baggies for poopie diapers, bottles, pacifiers, back up pacifiers, toys that rattle, toys that don’t rattle, mini Tupperware bowls of Cheerios (sorry I’m showing my age I’m sure there is something newer and cooler than Tupperware), bibs, spit up rags, and a portable changing pad.  I also don’t miss having to take 4 extra outfits in case potty training failed.  I don’t miss Pull Ups.  And I didn’t enjoy spending 20 minutes packing the car full of all of the above only to get the grocery store and have one child have a meltdown because the breeze was blowing the wrong way and the other one asking for every piece of gum and candy in site (that still hasn’t stopped by the way… yes both meltdowns and gum & candy … teenagers are a lot toddlers just slightly more eloquent).

To the first time Kindergarten moms and dads out there having emotional breakdowns let me explain that this is the first of many emotional breakdowns in your future.  They may be starting Kindergarten now, but in just six short years they will be in Middle School.  Ah yes, Middle School – those are years that will make you want to move to a remote island no one has heard of and live like the cast of Gilligan’s Island.  And then just when you are breathing the sigh of relief that the jungle known as Middle School has ended you find yourself pulling into the High School parking lot – dodging teenage drivers and thinking to yourself “I’m not old enough to have a kid in High School.”

That was when my High School breakdown occurred.  We went from his only social life was Xbox to suddenly he had friends who could drive and he would ride in cars with them after school to get snacks at the gas station before soccer practice started or late night runs to Taco Bell after games.  He would go “hang out” with the guys at pizza places.  And he needed nice clothes because wearing t-shirts and basketball shorts (the only thing he wore during Middle School) was suddenly not an option and now he’s somewhere between fashion icon and professional model (ugh… and sigh).  Then there were girlfriends (see ugh … and sigh above).  Yep that’s a fun roller coaster to ride on.

Honestly that was my last truly emotional moment; the day before his first day of high school when I pulled in the High School parking lot to pick him up from soccer.  That’s when it truly hit me that I was on the downhill slide of milestone moments and I started to long for the days of YMCA soccer on Saturdays where the snack at the end was the best part of the game and for the days when homework was coloring a picture of your family and explaining who each person was.

Last Tuesday he let me snap a picture before he got in his car and drove to school and I went about my day and it wasn’t monumental that it was the last “first day of school” for him.  No tears, no drama, just routine.  I made a nice Flip-o-gram for his birthday today with pictures from Newborn to his Senior picture.  I did have a slight moment because I couldn’t find his 3rd grade picture, but 3rd grade was in 2007 which was a bad year for our family and I don’t even remember if he had school pictures taken or if he did I apparently didn’t pay for them because I can’t find any.  I had a bit of guilt trip over that but still no tears, no drama.  I’m actually just looking forward to enjoying this year.

So for all you Kindergarten moms out there worrying and fretting that you should’ve cherished every one of those 1.57 million seconds of your child’s first five years – IT’S OK!!  You have 13 more years of memories – good, bad and ugly – ahead of you.  If you want to know what got me over the hump – I’ll tell you.  When I would find myself feeling sad that he wasn’t that cute little six-year-old anymore, or getting frustrated over something he did and thinking oh wait I can’t be frustrated at him because I don’t have very many years left of him being home I would pause and remember there are still many things ahead to look forward to:  College? Marriage? Grandkids? I can see myself at his wedding longing for the days he was starting High School.  It’s just how a parent brain works.  I mean there’s no guarantee on what’s coming up but certainly there will be milestones to celebrate.

Well there’s that and I bought a puppy.

Don’t judge my coping skills!

Which means in four years I’ll need another puppy……YIKES!

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I wish my kids were still that small – NOT!

Recently I caught myself looking at a cutie patootie toddler and thinking “Oh I miss my kids being that small.”  I also caught myself telling a mom who was bemoaning her toddlers recent temper tantrum “You will miss that when your kids are 15 (and still throwing temper tantrums).”  I have since stopped saying these things because I realized:

THEY ARE NOT TRUE!!!

The truth is:  I don’t want to admit I’m old enough to have a child in high school.  I don’t want to think that in 3 years my oldest will be going to college and my youngest will start high school.  Feeling nostalgic about my kids younger years is way more about me wanting to not admit to getting older than yearning for the toddler years again.

I mean honestly let’s think about this;  who misses having to take 2 bags full of diapers, bottles, wipes, 6 different outfit changes, pacifiers, toys, and a stroller just to go to the grocery store after surviving on about 4 hours of sleep?  Do you really miss the meltdowns at age 2 because they want to stay on the slide at McDonald’s and you want to leave because you’ve been trapped in the Play Place for 45 minutes with some psycho mom who keeps showing you pictures of every day of her child’s 730 days on Earth? The answers to these questions are “No.”

But look at these cute pictures……

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See aren’t they just adorable?  The reason you have thousands of adorable pictures lying around your house and hung on your walls is because nobody takes a picture of them when they are being bad.  I don’t have a picture of Teagan after 45 minutes of non-stop crying the night I made her give up her pacifier – affectionately called “boppy.”  I don’t have a picture from the ER visit we made after calling Dave over while he was on duty on the ambulance after Dawson made some daring leap off the top of the couch and hit a table and feigned a broken leg.  It was later revealed he really didn’t hurt himself he just acted like he did because he wanted Daddy to come home – later at the ER… after an X-ray.  I guess technically I do have a picture of it, the perfectly normal X-ray of his leg.

But it’s so easy to remember how cute they are when they are six and telling all the family they are playing in the “Pee Wee Baseball World Serious.”  Or the time when you catch your 4-year-old “reading” to his baby sister after he crawled up in her crib with her.  It’s much nicer to remember those things than when he microwaved her bottles for 4 minutes – and that icky melted plastic smell that lingered in the house for days.

It’s nice to think about the times they were cute and caring and thought you hung the moon.  Because now they talk back, they know everything and think you are the stupidest person in the world.  Ok well the full-blown teenager does, the tween is still cute about 75% of the time with the other 25% pushing the edge of full-blown teen.

If I had to truly pick a “favorite” time frame – I think it would be somewhere between them needing help tying their shoes to about 3rd grade – when they start understanding what the older kids are talking about on the school bus.  Of course technically I still have to tie Dawson cleats from time to time – well more specifically if I don’t want to watch him have to stop 3 times during a soccer game to re-tie them I have to tie his shoes.

Just like puppies.  Puppies are so cute!  Who doesn’t want one?  Until you remember the time you had to Google “Is Tire Slime hazardous to dogs?” It is not, in case you were wondering.  Or the time you had to rush to Dick’s Sporting Goods to buy a new baseball glove 1 day before a tournament and try to get it broken in because the bulldog thought the one that the 12-year-old left out in the yard looked like a good chew toy.

So while I may comment on how cute and adorable your 3 month old is or how sweet your 3-year-old is I vow not to say “I wish my kids were still that age” or “you will miss this when they get older.”  Because you really only miss the cute stuff – not the tantrums, tattling, screaming, saying no, potty training, and whining.  Actually minus the potty training it’s not that much different from having a teen ager.  And down the road when Dawson graduates or finishes college or gets married – I will remember the good stuff about him being 15.   I’m sure there’s good stuff……  I’m just kidding; currently he can crack me up with some of his one liners, he can surprise me when he texts me with an idea to raise money for kids with cancer and although he pushes the ‘I’m-the-man-of-the-house’ thing when Dave is at the fire station he is really becoming very responsible.

Maybe I should start saying “you will miss them being that cute when they get older – but when they are older they will still have their moments.”