Kindergarten Starts Soon, And I'm Not Ready

by Jenny Dunn Pray
Originally Published: 
kindergarten anxiety
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The summer has been difficult.

My husband leaves for work, and I stare at the clock as if it will somehow solve for me the problem of filling up the day with activities. I have all three kids at home. I am their source of entertainment, their fulfiller of their every need. I try to set up playdates, but our friends have scattered to beaches and family reunions, or they work, like I used to.

I fantasize about the beach on days so hot that the driveway burns our feet and forces us to retreat into our air-conditioned home where all the blinds are shut. These are days when the contents of our playroom are slowly dragged from room to room until I feel like I am living in a murky hell of board game pieces and Barbie clothes.

Jenny Dunn Pray

Needless to say, I’ve been ready for school to start for some time now.

Still, my immense relief at reducing my daily load from three children to one — especially while grocery shopping — has not eclipsed the monumental fact that my oldest is starting kindergarten. Kindergarten! Like most milestones in my children’s lives, this newest transition is causing some majorly mixed emotions in this mama. Allow me to outline them for you:

Anxiety. I worry about the little things. My oldest is not a morning person. I am also not a morning person. Currently, our process of getting ready in the morning goes like this:

Me: It’s time to get dressed now.

Me (five minutes later): It’s time to get dressed now. Didn’t you hear me tell you five minutes ago that it’s time to get dressed now?

Me (another five minutes later): Are you seriously still not dressed?

Then I have to grab the keys and the other children and feign that I’m going to leave her sitting there in only her undies, because girls who would rather do a Where’s Waldo? puzzle for the 188th time instead of obeying their mothers deserve to be left home alone in an act of gross neglect.

There are tantrums. There are tears. Mornings in our house are not the best. God only knows what next Tuesday morning will bring, but it is very possible that my child will be the only kid tardy on the first day of kindergarten.

Jenny Dunn Pray

Anxiety. We’ve checked with all of her preschool friends, and none of them are in the same kindergarten class as my child. Now, I’m one of those moms who doesn’t read too deeply into my child’s psychological state. Despite the fact that she’s disappointed not to be with her friends, the kid will get over it. She’ll be just fine. Even so, I know I’ll think of her that first day and wonder if she’s feeling lonely or left out, and I’ll feel a little squeeze of motherly anguish.

Anxiety. This is my first experience as a public school parent. I know so many people who appear to be experts at navigating drop-off and pickup, school lunches, PTA, homework, and all the other stuff I don’t even know about yet. Someday I will be one of those people, but right now I feel like somebody walking into their first Zumba class: stupid and lost.

Anxiety. Please let her not be “that kid.” Please let her keep her fingers out of her nose, and use her manners, and stop talking when the teacher says to hush. Please, between the hours of 7:30 and 2:30, let her not use the words “vagina” or “nipples,” which just happen to be two of her favorite terms. Please let her go out into the world and show everyone what an amazing parent I am.

So yes, perhaps I am a little anxious about kindergarten — not that I would ever convey that to my 5-year-old, who certainly has her own anxieties. For her sake, I will hold myself together long enough to send her off into her new classroom with a reassuring hug and a wave. Then I’ll sob a little in the car. Then I’ll drop my middle girl off at preschool and head to the grocery store with the baby, thinking about how lucky I am to have 180 days of this before next summer.

Jenny Dunn Pray

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