Youth, Extra Small: Reflections on the Night Before Kindergarten

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youth extra smallIn the weeks leading up to Kindergarten, we were excited! We shopped for supplies. We talked about all the new friends she would make and how much fun she would have at school. The night before, we marked the occasion with a special dinner at our favorite family celebration spot. I pushed to the back of my mind all the normal mom worries and replaced them with some version of “moms have been surviving this milestone since the beginning of time; you’ll be fine and she’ll be fine.” 

So I went about my checklist, doing all the things, and having a perfectly normal inner dialog with myself the whole time.  

School snack? Check.

Water bottle? Check.

What kind of world am I sending my baby into?  The news is unbearable these days! Will she be safe at school?

Backpack labeled? Check.

I know every parent thinks their kid is great, but are her teachers really gonna know what a gem she is and love her accordingly? 

What if she hates school? What if I hate school? What if kids are mean? What if she’s the mean kid? Oh, I hope I’ve raised her not to be a mean girl! 

Uniform ready?  Well, actually I didn’t take the time to wash the sweet little white blouse that goes under her jumper and it still has those creases from being folded in the package so I might as well go ahead and iron it just this once but there is no way I’m gonna even see this ironing board again during the school year ’cause who has time for that.

Of course any big milestone comes with its array of emotions and I was sure I had experienced all the usual suspects up to this point. Disbelief, excitement, grief, nervousness, uncertainty, hope… all the fun ones that rotate in and out on the verge of a new season.

I finished ironing out the wrinkles and hung her sweet uniform in the closet.  And there it was on the tag inside her shirt: YXS. I was sending my Youth Extra Small to school. Youth is one thing, but Kinders are the smallest of the bunch. The extra small. 

It is surreal. I brought her home from the hospital, laid her in her crib and went to make a bottle. When I came back she was trying on school uniforms. What? Insert all the “they grow up too fast” clichés here. They’re all true! One of the main goals of parenting, to raise independent humans, begins with this one small separation. For the last five years she has been my faithful sidekick, and now this new phase is the begining of the natural but oh so foreign separation.  Even though this is the next natural step, it seemed so unnatural to send my tiny baby into a situation where she would now have a whole section of her day that I wouldn’t have experienced right beside her. 

But the truth is, she’s not that tiny baby anymore and my Youth Extra Small is ready for her new adventure. I’m thankful for the five minutes years we’ve been inseparable, but now it’s time. It will be an adjustment for sure, probably more so for me than her. But who knows? Maybe mama can finally get a little solitude

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