Leaving the cocoonThursday, 14 June 2012
My oldest child starts school on Monday. Which is daunting. And quite a bit exciting. Fascinating actually. We are about to enter a whole new world. But it all means that this is her last week of kindy. Which is freaking me out. If I stop and think about it too long, I’m a mess. And I don’t mean the usual kindy-caused mess of sand and paint and glue and Marmite (more likely Vegemite). Not the noble “I’ve been mucking in with the kids” kind of mess. I mean the biting my lip to stop from crying at the gate kind of mess. The embarrassing kind.
And it’s not as if I’m going to even have a chance to miss the place. I have a younger child in the afternoon sessions so I’ll still be there three times a week. I’m still on the committee, for goodness sake. The sand-paint-glue-Marmite/Vegemite will still regularly be smeared on my jeans. But there is an end of an era in the air, and its bittersweet.
I have disclosed my fragility to other parents and apparently I’m not alone in feeling the “last days’ blues”. Our ever-helpful kindergarten teachers assured me that there is a grief to process. Your child is transitioning from the ECE “cocoon” into the unknown. The warm, cosy and sheltered haven is opening its doors to usher my little one out into the world.
For two years now I have been dropping her off to her kindy cocoon, and she has busied herself with the myriad of interesting options in front of her. I’ve helped out some days and been able to observe more closely the way the children have interacted, with each other and with their delightfully stimulating environment. Other days I’ve left them to it. When I return to collect her she emerges from mat-time, face beaming and eyes shining, like she has just been somewhere really exciting and has experienced something new to both of us.
It is time to fly though, to use the obvious cliché, and I need to be a grown-up about it. There is the very real concern that I could so easily project my anxiety onto her. Not that it is anxiety per se, it’s more just a gentle sadness – an old and comfortable routine is making way for something different.
And of course I’d be in complete denial if I didn’t face the reality of what is really happening. My little girl is turning five. Under-five shouts of the freedom and wonder of childhood. Over-five whispers of growing up far too fast.
This week, the teachers advised me, is about closure, but it is also about celebration. The children, apparently, are always excited and happy about graduating kindergarten and heading off to school. They definitely don’t need any rain on their parade in the form of Mum sobbing in the corner! So I’ll have the camera ready on Friday to capture her finally sitting in the birthday chair, wearing the birthday cape and her handcrafted “last-day” crown. I’ll cheer when she blows out the candles on her play dough cake and we’ll be so proud when the teachers read highlights from her portfolio aloud to the crowd. I will be as composed as royalty, emotions in check, tissues un-required and stuffed deep in pockets. And if all that fails, I might just be riffling through the art box and double-checking the lost-property - handy spots to hide, regain control, and put my celebration face back on.
Ka kite, ka kite, ka kite ano.... (brave face, hug child, exit kindy - dignity still intact!! Well, we'll keep you posted.)