SO, in case you missed my series of frantic tweets, my baby boy started school. And no, I am not handling it all that well. This week has been one full of milestones. On Monday, I woke up in full nesting mode and rather frustrated with the limited space in our bed, especially now that I am rounder. We were sharing our bed with the dog (a full grown, Swiss Shepard who’s about the size of a collie and weighs 20 KGs, but according to her, she’s a baby and needs to sleep on my damn chest!) and our toddler who hates having the blankets covering past his waist, PLUS the new belly that I am sporting and well, it means a very restless night of sleep for this preggy mom.
I have played with the idea of having a family bed – I am in no rush to have Axl leave our bed, not because I am weird or anything, but because I don’t feel like it is something that needs to be rushed. Sure, this is something, much like breastfeeding, that seems to bother other people who are not my child’s parent, but considering that I am his parent, I get to make these sorts of decisions. I can honestly understand the fears and insecurities of suddenly going into your own room and bed, not having the soft hum of dad’s snores or mom always squeezing you when you have a bad dream. I get it. I remember those days like it happened yesterday, trying to navigate the long, dark passageway to my parent’s room while paralyzed by the nightmare of Mickey Mouse joining the army (this was an actual dream from my childhood – I was SO scared of people in uniform). So the problem with the family bed idea is that Axl’s bed is lower than ours, and after a lot of oohing and ahhing, I decided to take my beauty vanity and beauty shelves out of my bedroom *gasp* and move Axl’s bed into our room, with just the side table keeping the beds apart. Darren had his doubts but night time came, Axl and I read a book, we watched some Fireman Sam and then he finally closed his eyes… to be woken at 6:30 am for school.
My kid is VERY independent. He is the kid that doesn’t even check to see where his parents are sitting, before dashing into the kiddies area of restaurants and making some new friends. He doesn’t care about age and is rarely intimidated, he will serve tea to the girls who are having a tea party and will climb the jungle gym, fight the boxing bags and “dinosaur” for the big boys. He is the complete opposite of the kid that I was, and very much like his dad- which I am truly grateful for – so when it came to introducing him to the idea of school, he was just like, “KIIIIIIDS!”
A lot of people have asked me why I haven’t considered homeschooling. Although he is only turning 3, and we’re at home all day, we’ve decided to enroll him at play-school because we want him to have the same set of tools that other kids get in life. I want him to be able to communicate his feelings, tell me about his day, cover my fridge in crafts, learn about how different other families and children are, how to be considerate, kind and loving. I want him to participate – something I never did – I want him to do potato sack races while I scream like a looney toon for him to win, I want him to be a sheep, or angel, or tree in the end of year school-play, waving at me from the stage. I have tried my very best to give him a good start in all those things, but I know that his school will do a far better job than I can, at teaching him those and other values. In other words, I am too selfish to attempt homeschooling. There, I said it. I was homeschooled in grade 1 and from my own experience, I excelled academically thereafter, but I struggled to adapt when in social situations. I am honestly terrified that I mirror my own social awkwardness on my kid.
I knew that taking him to school would be hard. I had everything ready to go the night before, just as I had always pictured motherhood would look like. I picked out his first-day-of-school outfit, laid it out, we read a book before bedtime, spoke about what to look forward to at his new school – we did everything that I thought would prepare us for this momentous occasion. I thought I was ready – that’s right, me, not him. And then it happened, the alarm clock sung, I started waking him up and pulled him from his big boy bed into mine, where he snuggled and whined because I wasn’t holding him tight enough. I spent a few minutes just taking it all in – thinking back that 3 years ago, at this very moment, I was waddling around like a duck, waiting for his arrival, dreaming of his future, and now… it’s all happening, faster than I’d like it to. There we laid, softly breathing, taking in all the love and not really knowing what the day held.
I had to laugh at Darren who at this point was singing “We don’t need no education!” and was telling Axl how he was sure another year at home with us, couldn’t hurt anyone. Half way there, Darren said he didn’t want to go in, because he didn’t want to be the only dad crying – that alone was enough for me to fight back the lump in my throat. We pulled up to the school, Axl perked up and pointed out the train on the sign, remembering the first time we came to look at the school and to my surprise, Darren got out of the car too.
Ax eagerly ran in, leading the way and as we made our way to his classroom – there it was. The scariest cry from a terrified toddler, the sort of scream that I have never heard from my own kid. I mean, I was scared, so of course, my kid was too. Axl retreated behind his dad’s legs, peeking out every now and then. After about 10 minutes of him checking this entire situation out, and me wondering if I am doing the right thing, a teacher suggested we leave the noisy room of crying toddlers, so we did and went next door where another teacher brought us puzzles and blocks. Axl eagerly proved that he is his mom’s child, when the teacher kept asking him where the ship is and he was like, “Lady, pleeeease… Imma show you how this whole puzzle works” and then completed the entire thing in record time. I mean, he didn’t say it, but that’s how it went down in my head, okay? Okay.
Anyway, so as parents do, we saw an opportunity to sneak out, we got back into our car and then sat at a “Stop” street trying to decide what to do now, well… until a car rudely interrupted our quiet debate of what to do, with a rather loud hoot. Neither of us spoke. We just kind of sat there trying to process it all. We got home and after another debate of what to do, we finally decided to catch up on some TV shows, other than Powerangers. I don’t think I have ever seen Darren check the time as often as he did – time has also never moved slower. My dog wandered around aimlessly looking for his human, while I tried to think of something profound to say about the world being your oyster, but yada-yada.
So, Axl, my kid, I don’t think I can ever quite put down into words just how much we love you, when you came into our world, you wrapped your tiny fingers and “spider-monkeyed” onto our hearts. Your dad and I aren’t quite ready to let you go into this big scary world – but I don’t think we ever will be. We constantly doubt ourselves and don’t always know what we’re doing or whether we have done a good enough job in giving you those tools to build the incredible future that you deserve. There isn’t much to be sure of in this road of parenting – I always sit wondering if I chose the right thing, at the time; the right brand of bottles, or dummies, the right car seat, the right time to wean you from the breast, choosing to vaccinate you and even that very early decision to circumcise, I wonder if school is good for you, right now – did I wait too long, or rush it too soon? These are things that plague my thoughts at 3am, while I watch you stretched out in your big-boy dinosaur bed. However, there is always one thing that I am certain of – you are the best part of our days, you are our greatest lesson, our biggest joy, and our proudest achievement. We could never imagine a life without your intense concentration, constant questioning, and incredible ability to adapt to all environments. We love how you can become a dinosaur or fireman, at any given time – may your imagination and creativity continue to take you on new adventures and may that ambition stay with you throughout life.
Everybody lied when they said you only have 12 years of school to look forward to, because in actual fact today is just the first of many-many-many years of school – it sucks – but I promise that we will be your biggest and loudest cheerleaders, we will help you through life’s disappointments, and celebrate all of your achievements – no matter how big or small. I promise that it isn’t always going to be easy, but that your family will be there 110% of the time, we’ll support, encourage, love and pick you up through all of it. I love you, my boy, this world is yours to conquer! Always be kind, consider others and no matter what, always follow your dreams!