I didn’t cry as we toured the classroom on preview night, or when he hopped aboard the school bus for the first time, bounding with confidence and not looking back.
No, I was strong and using my poker face not to let him see the excitement and nerves I felt on the first days of school.
It was a couple days later that I nearly broke down in tears as I sat on those tiny kindergarten chairs and listened to the teacher explain her curriculum and outline how in nine short month my son would be reading books and writing sentences.
Honey, we aren’t in preschool anymore.
It shouldn’t have surprised me. When I was a suburban reporter I loved visiting the schools and classrooms to write stories about special programs. I sat through countless school board meetings as teachers and administrators discussed curriculum. I interviewed kindergarten teachers who told me how full-day is such a better option for students, allowing them to learn so much more.
I shouldn’t have been surprised and yet as I sat on the tiny chair I was in awe of just how much he was about to learn in the next year. The jumble of words on a page would transform into words that he would be able to identify and read. The alphabet he has been singing and learning how to write would become the tools to creating words, expressing thoughts and ideas.
That click clack typing mom does on the computer to write stories would suddenly make sense to him as he realized the letters formed words, which formed sentences, and stories.
Maybe it’s the writer in me that makes me sentimental for words.
School has changed so much and while I don’t remember my own kindergarten lessons, I know for certain I wasn’t learning sight words and I was still enjoying playtime between stories on the big blue rug and learning to write letters.
He will play. During recess he will run and climb. He will play as he learns, enjoying games that will be teaching him about math, science and language skills.
Read, the teacher said bringing my thoughts back to her presentation. Read every day she said. As a baby and tot we did read a lot. Lately we had moved away from reading. One day we might sit for three books from our library bag while another day we might skip reading to soak up a little extra summer fun outside. I’d have to get back to the reading routine, put down my phone and skip my Facebook reading in favor of more stories about bears, pigeons and Wockets (which may be in a Pocket).
Over the years my son has memorized a few of our story books and I remember how he tricked his dad telling him he could read the book “I can read with my eyes shut,” by Dr. Seuss. My little guy was so proud and excited, as he recited the memorized story and the funny words.
Just wait until he can truly read those pages and read, “Young cat! If you keep your eyes open enough, oh, the stuff you will learn! The most wonderful stuff!”
Melissa Riske is a member of the DuPage, Ill., chapter of Mothers & More. She is a mom of two active young boys and a freelance writer.