On Motherhood & Sanity

Sunday, August 29, 2010

on sending my toddler off to college

Sunday night. I have this knot in my stomach, and can’t get to sleep. It’s past midnight and everyone sleeps, while I sit here staring at a monkey with a crown. I didn’t expect this to happen.

I mean, it’s not like it’s the first time. She has been going to some playgroup or kinder-type schooling since she was 19 months. In the past I’ve laughed about stories of parents crying as they dropped their kids in school for the first time. But somehow it’s different this time, and I can’t get my head around it.

M the princess is starting pre-school.

We went shopping today, the whole family unit, on a mission to get the four things she needed. It’s a big deal and we treated it as such.

We moved through the Sunday crowds until she chose a backpack she liked. The one she had, the small one with the Disney princesses, is no longer big enough. It doesn’t fit the A4 folder she needs to put her homework, her books, and her report cards. There are no princess backpacks that size. It’s like the world is pushing her to grow up, and a little voice in my head keeps repeating ‘they are taking my baby away.’

So finally she settled on a large, bright pink, monkey princess. Which is really ironic because we always call her monkey, and she calls herself a princess, so it’s pretty much tailor made for her. It’s sitting in front of me, all ready for the big day, and I can’t stop staring at it and all it means.

Up until now we could choose to send her to school or not. (Ok, technically we still can as she doesn’t legally have to go for another year), but that is not the point. The point is she’s about to begin official schooling. It’s the permanence that is killing me. From reception she’ll go to first grade, then high school, then college, then work. Forever now her mornings will be hurried and busy. She is entering the conveyor belt of life. It makes me long for summer like I was back in school myself.

The backpack is huge. It’s almost bigger than her. Isn’t there some law that says kids should only go to big-girls school once they are bigger than their backpacks? There should be.

I want to scream “give me my baby back!” but not sure who I’d be screaming it to.

Her backpack also needs to fit her snack and lunch boxes, needed for the endless hours she’ll spend in that building, a full three blocks away from home, away from me. From now on, she is having lunch at school every day but Wednesday.

All the research says that kids learn eighty percent of their vocabulary at the table, so I’ve always made an effort to ensure lunch was a family affair. Her vocabulary is now in the hands of Phil the-snot-kid, and steal-my-shoes Mathew. Wednesday lunch is now officially sacred.

But she’s so excited about it. She chose her snack box, (a pink Disney princess classic), and her lunch box, which is neither pink nor does it have princesses.

Having left the back-to-school shopping a bit late, there were not many options left, so she chose a purple and black version more appropriate for a pre-teen than my baby. Another little prick in my heart, right next to the beaming pride.

My baby is off to school tomorrow.


Veronica said...

Loved your post.. I felt it with you. This marks a new phase in her (in your live)
Time flies and we should embrace every single moement. You are doing just that... Thanks for sharing.
Loved the mokey pricess backpack (and yes is little big for her ;))

Vinita said...

Just love her bag!! I'm guilty as charged as well! Firstvday of school and i sat around feeling miserable! Great read and lovely image...!

la puerta azul said...

I dont know what kind of pre school is that, but in spain and france at least, pre schools do no homework, and backpacks, if any, are just for little brunchs... Are you surexshe has not gone an upper level inadvertently? ;-)



angelica said...

I don't think she'll be doing homework, but they said it had to fit A4, and there was no in between. She also has to fit a snack box and a lunch box, (and gym clothes on wednesdays and fridays), so the backpack gets used. Don't worry, I carry it most of the time.

ArgentWyrmling said...


Anonymous said...

It's really hard that moment when it all becomes real that they are growing up. Nothing really prepares you for it even though you know it's coming.

I love her Monkey BP...Enjoy the first day of school and just think about when she comes home excited to tell you all that happened there today :)

Susana Marcelo said...

Oh dear, I feel the same. When my son went to pre-school for the first time I was the one having trouble letting go. Now he's going to first grade, and ouch. Just a reminder of how they're growing up so fast, and unfortunately, that means I'm not getting any younger.