My sweet, innocent, perfect, vulnerable oldest child– you don’t deserve the terrible things that are going to happen to you. Am I being selfish when I say I want to protect you forever? That I am so in love with who you are right now that I don’t want to let you go get poisoned by this crazy world? That I am not ready to let you spread your wings and fly without mommy by your side to catch you when you fall?
Yet, here we are, kindergarten is knocking on our door and we have to answer with either a yes or a no.
They say the cutoff for Kindergarten is age five by September, but everyone we know whose child turns five after May sends them to another year of preschool. With an April birthday I know you will be one of the youngest in your class, and will barely be 18 when you graduate high school and go off on your own (deep breath).
I have been battling myself for years now: will we send you? will we hold you? We’ve spent countless hours in prayer, asking God for guidance. We’ve sorted through endless articles, studies, and asked both new and veteran parents, yet, the question still lingers. Even though it’s not about giving you an academic or athletic edge so that you can get a scholarship or graduate at the top of your class, there is a negative connotation associated with parents holding their kids now; it’s actually called “red shirting”. Are you kidding me? There is seriously a stigma associated with holding our children if parents aren’t comfortable with sending their child to school quite yet? What if we’re not ready to turn the page, to leave the beautiful chapter we are currently on far behind in the dust, and start a new? Because once we start it, I know we can’t go back, and that is SO difficult to accept.
I have spent so much time feeling angry, afraid, frustrated, and helpless…
June, if you hold your child it is completely acceptable. May, eh, it could have gone either way. But April, less than 30 days difference, 4 weeks difference, and the child should start school– especially a girl, because they are a spring birthday, they mature faster, they ARE ready, why would you hold them? By sending them, you make them a full year younger than many of their peers, but if you hold them, they are one of the oldest. Conversely, there is evidence that shows by being the youngest in your class you have to work harder. Since success doesn’t come too easily early on, the younger children have greater success later in life because they were taught hard work at a younger age.
I have spent so much time flip-flopping my perspectives, changing my tune, and just being so confused…
You are so ready right now, you are smart, you are social, you are the perfect fit for a kindergartner, but I’m not so worried about the now. I worry about you as an adolescent, as you grow into a woman and the pressures you will endure and hopefully overcome. As I talk to veteran parents, there seems to be a consistent “grass is greener” mentality among them. Those who sent their children wish they would have held them to give them an extra year to mature. Those who held their children wish they would have sent them because they were forced to treat a hard headed 18-year old senior like the child he did not see himself as.
Despite all this, here I sit, school registration in hand, and we are going for it, we are sending you. After every article, study, and blog post I have sieved through it comes down to one thing that none of them even mentioned.
We have a relationship with you, and we trust you.
You are an amazing kid with a really good head on your shoulders. You are strong, confident, and you know who you are and who you want to be.
Instead of operating in fear we have chosen to let you go. We want to protect you, but not isolate you. We are going to let you go be a light for someone who needs it and hope that you can be influential, not influenced.
Like so many things, if we sit back and wait for the perfect time, when the stars align, and we have zero doubts, it will never come. We are ready to put all the faith in the world in you, and in God’s plan for you. We are ready to completely trust you to go out on your own and take your first real step on your own.
We love you baby girl.