Most people are aware of the terrible two’s. The dreaded toddler stage where many babies learn they are in fact separate beings from their parents. Finding a will of their own but not having the sophisticated skills of an adult to harness it leads to temper tantrums and public scenes. Entering the third year, many parents blissfully find that those outbursts are waning. Then comes four. Ferocious four year olds are like two year olds on speed. They’re bigger, smarter and do not tolerate boredom well. That’s why preschool is so necessary if one can afford it. A four year old is insatiable for knowledge. They want to know why things work. How stuff is made. Where did everybody come from? They take things apart. Climb on, over and under everything nailed down. They move constantly and that includes their mouths. They talk incessantly and it seems as though they’re not listening to you at all. Until, your least favorite relative shows up. That’s when they decide to repeat, word for word what you said about them. These four year olds are beginning to leave cute behind and border on obnoxious. I think this is part of God’s big plan. The ferocious fours are the catalyst for change in a mother’s psyche. Where she once could not bear to see herself apart from her baby she now can’t wait for that bus to pull up and those doors to open.
Keep It To Yourself
You may be tempted to voice your eagerness for your child to go to school often during the year leading up to kindergarten. Try not to do that too much. It’s great to say positive things about school. You want your child to know that it is safe and teachers are welcoming. What will not be helpful is if you use school as a form of revenge whenever your kid is driving you crazy. Say for example, he’s pulling the eyelashes off of his little brother. You may inwardly scream, “I cannot wait for you to go to school already’! But, you should not let that exasperated cry escape your lips. It will come back to haunt you way before Halloween. Don’t ask me how I know this and please don’t ask my first born son. (The eyelashes never fully unhinged). It is hard not to daydream about how great it will be to have the morning load lightened once school begins. Especially when you find oatmeal in your hair at 3:00 P.M. in the afternoon. Four year olds no longer nap. There’s no escape really, until 8:00 P.M. if your lucky.
Kindergartners need clothes, shoes and a backpack for their school debut. That’s about it. Try to get a list of what your child is allowed to bring to school before you overspend. Most schools will provide information on that in the mail. Be prepared for younger siblings to be jealous of school shopping that they are not on the receiving end of. It may be easier to shop incognito or alone to avoid more unrest on the home front.
It may surprise you to find that your now big five year old is starting to become a cling on as day one of school draws nearer. This child that wanted to know everything yesterday and ran off fearless everywhere you went may now be wondering what you will be doing without him. You may have to field questions of that nature. “Will you go to McDonald’s when I’m in school”? “How about the zoo, would you go there without me”? “Will you play at the park when I’m gone’? “Will Grandma visit after the bus comes”? “Will you move to another house and I will come home to no one”? “Do you promise to always be outside waiting for me, so I can see you when I come home”? “Are you sure I have to go to school because I think I changed my mind”. This is when it gets hard again. When they give you that glimpse of the baby gone by. This is when ferocious fourness is forgotten.
Most moms will tear up when the bus is in sight. It’s natural to feel a tug of emotion. Your child is going somewhere out there without you. Another person will be teaching him or her instead of you. A minor injury at school will be washed and bandaged by other hands. You won’t be there to kiss the boo boo. It’s okay to cry a little but try to reassure your child that they are happy tears. Remind him or her how proud you are of them. What do you do if they cry? Try not to tell them they’re so big and they aren’t babies anymore. That won’t help. Just ask them what they’re afraid of. Take as much time answering their questions patiently until that bus comes. Then grab your camera and wipe up tears, yours and theirs. Kids at that age do not want to be photographed crying. They will suck it up and smile while you take as many shots as humanly possibly before that bus door creaks open.
If they have a death grip on your hand gently lead them to the door. Do not board the bus. Extricate your hand nice and easy and put the focus on the bus driver. Ask the driver their name and cheerfully introduce your child. Veteran bus drivers are very helpful on first days of school. Most will take it from there and instruct your child where to sit. It is very important that you stress well beforehand the bus rules. Your child will most likely be free styling it in a vehicle for the first time in his or her life. No seat belts can be liberating. It can also make you crazy. You can reinforce the, sitting at all times until the bus stops completely rule early on. I used to say, “if the bus is moving you better not be”! Okay, finally you see your child sitting and waving out the bus window. This is good. Remember to smile back and wave vigorously. No falling completely to pieces until the bus is out of view. Last but not least, don’t follow the bus in your car. That isn’t going to help you or your child one bit. Following the bus for the first five days of school won’t get them there any safer. More importantly, if your child spots the family car behind the bus he or she may lose confidence. Following the bus may send a message that you do not trust where they are going after all.
Before you have time to complete two full loads of laundry your child will be home from kindergarten. After two or three weeks of school they will raise their hands at the dinner table when they want to speak. You will all be laughing as this will occur again and again until he or she can assimilate the new school rules with home rules. Don’t be dismayed if you hear constant comments about what the new teacher says or does. Even when you are reminded that Mr. Whatchamacallit doesn’t hold the pencil the way you do. Or, Mrs. Whatsits is pretty and smells nice. Try to remember that the more positive adults your child has in his or her life the better. You want your child to like the teacher. It is common for a child to call his mom or dad by the teachers name now and then. A kindergartener has one foot in both worlds during the first few months of school. The whole family has to adjust as it is whenever a milestone is reached in a child’s life. Mixed emotions and muddled beginnings are all part of the process. I still feel a catch in my throat every September when I see the first school bus round our corner. It has been many years since I put my last baby on a bus.