Parenting Perspectives: Gears of time turn Mom toward kindergarten

Time does funny things when you become a parent. Days get long. Years fly by. And before you know it, you’re sitting in an elementary school classroom with your soon-to-be kindergartner.

That’s where I found myself last Thursday, though it’s another year before Eve starts school, I remind myself with a deep breath.

But our family is already preparing for next fall, having enrolled 4-year-old Eve in Gearing Up for Kindergarten, a school readiness and parent education program developed by North Dakota State University Extension Service.

One evening a week this fall and spring, Craig and I bring Eve to her future elementary school for an hour and a half. She gets a feel for a kindergarten classroom and projects. We meet other parents and learn about child development. One-year-old Owen plays with siblings of the enrolled students.

I told the other parents I signed Eve up more for myself than her. She recently started her second year of morning preschool and thrives in the classroom. She tells me daily at 11:30 a.m. pick-up that she wants to stay all day.

I know she’s ready for kindergarten.

I’m not sure I am.

I grew up in a small town, attending the same K-12 school through high school graduation. The building’s a rectangle, with four hallways surrounding the gym and cafeteria.

Eve’s elementary has wings for each grade level, two gyms and scores of entrances. I got lost trying to find the Gearing Up for Kindergarten classroom and had to ask a janitor for help. When we left that first night, sure we were exiting to the south where we’d parked, we found ourselves on the east side of the building.

It’s good we have a few more months to find our way around the place.

But the more I think about my hesitations, those deep breaths I’ve been taking, I realize they aren’t just based on the big versus small school experience, or even Eve being my first grade-schooler.

It’s that sneaky Father Time, who marches on no matter how many deep breaths I take.

My mom tells of bringing me to kindergarten orientation. Each of us was paired with an older student familiar to us. The teacher matched me with Brent, whose family lived on a farmstead a few miles from ours.

Mom had already sent three sons through those same school doors. She arrived at orientation thinking how glad she was to be free and clear of having kids at home all day.

Then Brent put his arm around me, Mom says, like he was going to marry me.

She cried all the way home.

The other day I came across a picture of Eve. She’s 15 months old, wearing a pink-and-white striped bib overall dress. Her hair is wispy and short. Her mouth is open in a playful scream. “Where did that girl go?” I wondered longingly.

Where’d this baby girl go??

Of course, she’s right here next to me as I type, playing with a wad of Silly Putty. She’s wearing blue jeans. Her hair is long.

The real question is: Where did that time go?

Just as I wonder today how the last 4½ years passed so quickly, when Eve enters the now familiar halls of her elementary school next fall, I’ll be wondering where the last year went. On her high school graduation day, I’ll wonder how we got so far from that kindergarten classroom.

And that’s why we’re gearing up for kindergarten. Because gears of time just keep turning.

For more information about Gearing up for Kindergarten, visit www.gearingupnd.org.

Sherri Richards is an employee of The Forum and mom to 4-year-old Eve and 1-year-old Owen.

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