My Child's Ready for Kindergarten. I'm Freaking Out!

I don't want to let my baby go, but it's time for me to grow up.
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Postcards from Mommywood: My Daughter’s Ready for Kindergarten—and I’m Freaking Out!

I don’t want to let my baby go, but it’s time for me to grow up.

-Diane Clehane

Child at school

I admit it. I’ve never been great with change, and I’ve been grappling with it on an ongoing basis ever since we brought Madeline home from China. I’m still dealing with the major adjustment involved in going from working woman to working mother. (I realize now it’s unlikely this issue is going to be settled anytime within the next ten years.) I struggled with the decision to put my daughter in preschool at age two because it seemed extraordinarily young for her to be in a classroom. But now, three years later, I’ve come to view her nursery school as a nurturing and safe haven that has enriched her early childhood in countless ways – and saved me from babysitting hell.

Today she turns five and it’s time to register her for kindergarten. I am completely unhinged about it.

Obviously, I’ve known this was coming, but now that the deadline is looming to file her paperwork for  next September, I’m having to face the fact that Madeline is no longer a baby and is about to cross that great divide from toddler to kid. The paperwork for her registration has been sitting untouched on top of a chair in my office since last month. Every morning I wake up saying, “I’ll fill it out today.” But until last night I’d managed to find every conceivable excuse not to do so.

Yesterday, when I could have been home getting her paperwork together, I found myself at BuyBuy Baby looking for a Barbie DVD she wanted for her birthday. When I didn’t see it anywhere on the twenty-foot wall filled with various offerings that included Baby Einsteins and a plethora of potty-training instructional titles, I asked a sales associate to help me. His words were like an arrow through my already fragile heart: “That’s for bigger kids. We only carry items for children up to age four.”

Read Postcards from Mommywood: 5 Life Lessons I Learned at the Playground

And just like that, I was banished from Babyland.

I should have known this was coming since the place where we hosted Madeline’s party this weekend is called Kidville. As I watched Madeline and her cousins and school friends twirl around in their fairy princess regalia I was struck by how tall all the kids suddenly seemed. When did this happen?

My daughter was bursting with pride as she told each guest as they arrived, “I’m five now! I’m a big kid!” As testament to that, one friend had given her a set of glitter lip glosses as part of her present. I thought to myself: If there’s a training bra in one of these boxes, I’m going to faint.

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