A few hours ago I dropped off my oldest child for his first day at Kindergarten.
I know, I know, the last thing the internet needs right now is another verklempt parent writing about sending their kid off to school, wistfully mourning that their little baby is all grown up now and practically out of the nest. I actually thought I did pretty well, truth be told. No tears from either of us.
But dang. I had no idea it was going to hit me like this, hours later, sitting there at the park playing with his little brother (who starts preschool next week!), and wishing we could be playing right outside a certain kindergarten classroom window instead of down the street.
I’ve always hesitated to be one of those “helicopter parents” you hear so much about. I don’t hang over them, guiding their every move. I want my kids to explore and play and have fun and learn and climb and fall and get back up again, without having me hover. But what I do love to shamelessly do is watch my boys as they do those things. I love watching them figure things out, and help one another, and make new friends. From afar (even if “afar” is only a few feet away).
And suddenly my kid starts real school and — just like that —I am wondering if I was a helicopter parent all along.
Not a rescue helicopter, mind you, ready to sweep in at a moment’s notice and save the day. But maybe one of those mysterious black stealth helicopters that hovers up a little higher and just watches.
Because, wow, you wouldn’t believe what I would give right now to get to hide in a corner of his classroom and simply experience him experiencing this new stage in his life. Instead, I can only imagine, and start pre-planning all of the questions I will have to ask to get the full rundown of his day. Who did you sit with at lunch? What was the most fun thing you did? What was the least fun thing? What was something you did you’ve never done before? Tell me about your teacher! When you had to go potty, did you stop and go right away; flush and wash and be on your way?
This is normal, right? Because, I sort of thought this level of needing to let go wasn’t going to happen until he goes off to college.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time for us to get ready to pick him up. Yeah, he’s not done for a couple of hours, but maybe it’s best if we, y’know, head that way… and stand outside the school…
…just in case he needs me.