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I Survived

A few people wrote asking how the
kindergarten registration went on Thursday, and I’m sorry I
left you hanging. A medicinal glass of wine afterwards left me less
ready to blog than usual, but I’ve had the weekend to process
and I’m ready to (sob) talk about it.

Ok, I’m exaggerating a little bit. It wasn’t THAT bad.
But it was a little bad.

First, to ease everyone’s minds,
Maddie is now completely committed to kindergarten and can’t
wait to start. She had a fabulous afternoon playing with her
friends at the elementary school while we waited in line and signed
up, and took total ownership of the school for her and her friends.
We bought the requisite t-shirt (captive, desperate audience!) and
chatted with potential teachers (I’m not saying money changed
hands, but I’m not saying it didn’t . . . ) and in
general had a very productive afternoon.

Dang it.

We got there early, so Maddie and her friend Elise had some private
time on the school playground –which I had deliberately up
until that time kept off-limits for Maddie, saying only “Big
school kids” could use it. So there was some sense on her
part of walking on hallowed ground, co-mingled with the excitement
of joining a very elite club, just in the fifteen minutes she
explored the jungle gym and monkey bars.

As we waited in line for registration to start, a couple more of
Maddie’s playgroup friends showed up, and you could see the
realization dawning on Maddie’s face that school might be, in
essence, one giant play date. While the adults stood uncomfortably,
the girls ran up and down the hall, hid behind doors, explored wall
displays, and in general made the school their own space. As I
watched Maddie, I was profoundly thankful I had brought her along
for the process. The worst part of waiting in line came,
unfortunately, from my husband, who got a glazed look in his eyes
for a moment, then said, “If my calculations are correct, our
girls are the Class of 2023!” Mary (Elise’s mom) turned
to him with disbelief and said, “What are you DOING to

After we were finished – my mind reeling with the handouts on
“How We Prevent Sex Offenders From Entering the
Premises” and “Please Have Your Child Enter the School
Unassisted” (Are you KIDDING me? I already have this picture
of my daughter entering on her own – “I’m sorry,
sweetie, Mommy’s not allowed to help you, please stop
sobbing!” – and, unable to find her room, wandering
lost for a month, taking up residence in an air conditioning duct
and eating the cast-off science experiments entitled “Mold-
Our Friend and Medicine” to stay alive until I’ve torn
the school apart, brick by brick-) we wandered back to the school
playground. The after-school kids’ club was in session, so
the space was swarming with kids K-6th grade. I took a gulp and let
the girls – by now including Cora – enter the fray. And
do you know what?

They totally held their own.

The girls instinctively knew to form their own game, letting the
big kids ebb and flow around them, refusing to take bumps and
knocks personally or even intentionally. They wisely stayed back
from the biggest kids’ games, but waited patiently for their
turns on the monkey bars and didn’t shy away from swinging
next to a game of soccer. Elise’s mom and I watched our
little girls having a fantastic time on the playground, and knew
they’d be just fine.

The mommies, however, were another matter.

Maddie went to bed that night content and happy: she’s looked
down the corridor of her future and seen what it looks like,
completely neutralizing the threat of unknowing. She’s
excited about the “Kindergarten Rocks!” bling-y t-shirt
we ordered and is already anticipating a new backpack and lunch bag
and art supplies and . . . the list is endless. I’m not
saying it’s going to be completely smooth sailing –
I’m sure nerves will re-surface as we get closer. But
I’m saying that it’s now a possibility for her.

I, on the other hand, went to bed with a glass of wine and a
margarita failing to completely erase the gnawing fear and growing
sense of loss opening up in my belly. The whole sex offender
handout made me start dwelling on the stretch of
hoooooooouuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrssss my child will be outside my
protection – and I’m not Secret-Service trained, but
I’m certainly going to guard my child’s life more
assiduously than anyone paid $12 an hour would. Suddenly words like
Columbine take on a whole new meaning, and reading books about
things like surviving bullies in the playground takes on a whole
new urgency. Elise’s mom came over that evening while the
girls tumbled like puppies in the back yard, still full of energy
from the excitement, and Mary and I stared at each other,
short-circuiting slightly and entering into Post-Traumatic Stress
Syndrome together. What hath we wrought?

The topper for the evening was the extremely poor decision I made
to watch “Parenthood” after the girls were in bed. If
you follow it at all, you know last week’s episode was about
the 15-year-old daughter sneaking out of her house to hook up with
a hidden boyfriend. The entire show dealt with the father’s
angst at watching his daughter grow up and move beyond his control.
Add the final dredges of my margarita to that, and I didn’t
have the most restful sleep I could have had.

I’m not completely horrible about this kindergarten
registration, I promise you. I know it’s not THAT big a deal,
and that life goes on and I’ve got a glorious summer with my
girls stretched out before me like gold coins to spend in the sun.
I’m diving deep here, and touching the icky parts of my Mommy
Thoughts that I don’t necessarily like to acknowledge, but
know I need to in order to stay sane. If I name them, I can deal
with them.

And if I name them, when it happens to you, you’ll know
you’re not alone in this thing. Because I promise you, your
day is coming.


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