At the beginning of the summer I finally came to a sense of peace that Kindergarten was going to be okay. Yes, we would be leaving the cocoon of safety we had for four years. My reservations were being replaced by cautious enthusiasm that Bridget would be starting kindergarten in a few weeks. Then it happened. I was smacked in the head (again) that this would not be the easy transition I hoped.
This week we had the Kindergarten Play Date. The night all the families meet at the school, play games and see who is in their class. I ran into a friend and said, I hate these things and never come to them. I was ready to leave before it even began. She concurred but added we have to come so our girls can be a part of the class. I get it. We want inclusion. We want acceptance and we want our children to be just like all the other kids. So I stayed.
And I do not mean lemons.
It started in the multipurpose room where we were to watch a 40 minute play about going to kindergarten. Now, I am sure the play was great. Except there were so many people and we were in the back of the MPR. The noise was so overwhelming for Bridget, she was in my arms with her fingers in her mouth.
Next it was time for the “get to know you” activity. The parent volunteer was awesome. She knows Bridget and immediately included her. Within the first few moments it became apparent that Bridget was not like the other children. She couldn’t sit on the grass comfortably because of her braces. She answered questions only after I prompted her the answer. She tried to eat the goose pop. When it was time to throw the ball she became a ham. The parents stared. My anxiety level rose. I could tell my nervous energy was being absorbed by Bridget as I tried to make her act “normal” and she became more outrageous. I know the parents were not judging her, it was all in my head and heart. Yet I could not shake this feeling that her team was wrong. Bridget isn’t ready for kindergarten.
We headed to the playground. Bridget loves the playground. It will be okay, I thought. She can do this, I believed. I was wrong. As she ran up the play structure little kids were running this way and that. She got knocked down, but got up. Unsure which way to go, she turned around a few times and then headed back up the bridge to the slide. There is an opening where the kids get to climb over a “rock” wall to the slide. Bridget so much wanted to go. I stood on my tip-toes to hold her hand so she could walk over the wall. Kids started climbing and jumping. She almost fell but made it to the slide.
She ran towards the monkey bars and got kicked in the head as kids swung. Bridget got knocked over as kids ran for the swings. She still wanted to play. I’m not blaming the kids. They were being kindergartners. They were having the time of their lives and were having so much fun. You could feel their excitement.
I just couldn’t deal. I hate saying this because I realize it is more about me then Bridget. But I could not watch her fall, get pushed or get hurt one more minute. I picked her up and as I am walking away she is punching me, pulling her hair and kicking. Screaming at me “YOU RUDE” “YOU BAD GIRL”. People are staring. I go to a vacant corner, still struggling with her and put my sunglasses on as I wiped a tear.
I try to compose myself and realize I have lost my keys.
Lost my freaking keys.
On the field. Do you have one of those new keys? The ones that are square and you cannot attach to a key ring? Imagine trying to find that on a 3 acre grass field. Fifteen minutes later someone asks me if I am looking for my keys (I wanted to respond, no I was looking for more goose pop for my daughter to try to eat). Thankfully someone had found it and put it inside the school.
People really are great and helpful and kind. I know some who attended have serious concerns or moments of tears when they realize their child is going to kindergarten (or first grade/high school/college). I never had these moments with my older child. It was: get on the bus, it’s time for school! YAY!!!! Like so many other milestones, Bridget is different.
She is almost 2 years older than her classmates yet she cannot tell me what happened in school that day. Bridget has a host of health issues that her classmate’s parents never have to write an e-mail to the new teacher so she is informed. When their child falls they put their hands out or contort their body to brace for the impact. When Bridget falls there is no safety net. With her disability I do not know how a fall will affect her differently than when her sister falls.
I do know that when Wednesday comes and I drop her off for the first day of kindergarten I will not be experiencing a joyful milestone.
I will be filled with fear and dread.