On August 27th, 1985, I was dropped off for my first afternoon of kindergarten at Joe Walker Elementary. I stood in a crowd of kids and parents in the lobby with my mother. I met a little girl with blond hair that asked if she could be my friend. We walked holding hands down the hall to the kindergarten room. The next day would be my fifth birthday.
That was my only good day of kindergarten. Each subsequent school day I would hear the noon news come on and I would get a lump in my throat. My mom would ask me to go get the mail with her. We'd walk together on fair weather days up the long driveway to the mailbox. I would fight back the tears.
By the time we arrived at school I was sobbing. I hung on the doorknob. I didn't want my mommy to leave.
My report cards from back then indicates that I didn't play with other kids. I can remember talking out loud to myself and playing with a baby doll. A half day of school was way too much for me.
I didn't straighten out for years. In the first grade I would cry when my teacher wasn't there. In second grade I discovered that a temperature over 98.6 would get me sent home from school. I took that option on a lot of days. Finally, in third grade I stayed willingly.
Six months from now I'll send my baby to full day kindergarten. She'll be five and a half and already she's more social than I've ever been. I know it won't be a problem.
Still, I feel that crushing separation anxiety. This time it's from the other side of the relationship and it's masked as concern for her. 8:30 to almost 4 is a long day. She's so little. I wasn't ready at that age.
Really it's all about me. Full-time care for my only child will begin a new era in my stay-at-home mom life. There will be whole days to do productive things with myself. What will that look like? Part-time job? Pulitzer Prize winning writer? Catching up on the Young and the Restless?
Whatever I choose it will be different, scary and it will come with a whole lot less hugs from my little girl. In short, this is a major bummer.