By Eliska Counce, TSB Columnist
It’s hard to believe, folks, but the day has finally come. My 4-year-old daughter is now officially my 5-year-old daughter, and today is her graduation day from pre-kindergarten. Le sigh. The day I never thought would arrive has: as of the fall, my day care expenses are done, and we are set to put our last child into elementary school. I’m giddy with the prospect as I’ve been subcontracting out the child care job since 2003. 2003! Someone’s really going to have to pinch me, y’all, because my kids are doing what everyone always threatened me they would but I didn’t dare believe: they’re growing up.
There was a time when I sincerely doubted my children would ever evolve. There was a particularly damaging post-partum period of time after the birth of my second and very cranky and colicky son where I would have sworn to you that the Earth had, indeed, ceased to spin on its axis and that time was standing still. But lo: turn around, and now it seems the days of macaroni pictures and Sesame Street are quickly getting behind me. The hand prints I constantly wipe up are getting larger and larger.
It seems like a dream. I have no more toddlers. No more pudgy cheeks and sturdy legs and baby talk. I will release my daughter to what will become her second family: her gaggle of new friends and teachers at her kindergarten. My last baby is off to school. Soon, I will be confronted with eyerolls, black nail polish, and shorts that say things across her butt. My last baby is about to sashay into the world of public education, and I am of two minds: YAHOO mind…but a bit of BOOHOO mind as well:
YAHOO: Public school is free!
BOOHOO: They let kids from the public in.
YAHOO: My days will be free from child care!
BOOHOO: There will be no excuse to not do housework.
YAHOO: Now all my kids get dropped at the same time of day!
BOOHOO: And that time of day is ungodly early.
YAHOO: Only one spot to drop off and pick up!
BOOHOO: Three sets of homework to facilitate after school instead of two.
YAHOO: My daughter will thrive learning all day!
BOOHOO: I won’t be able to get away with spelling dirty words in front of anyone any more.
YAHOO: My daughter will make new friends!
BOOHOO: Let’s hope they’re not like Paris Hilton. Or Bristol Palin.
YAHOO: My kid will be exposed to more diversity!
BOOHOO: She’ll learn cuss words in more than one language.
YAHOO: She’ll have wonderful opportunities to create and stretch!
BOOHOO: And I’ll be operating the glue gun.
YAHOO: She’ll learn to read!
BOOHOO: I’ll have to hide my copy of Fifty Shades of Grey.
YAHOO: She’ll be improving her social skills!
BOOHOO: She’ll be better than ever at manipulating her father.
YAHOO: She’ll become independent minded!
BOOHOO: Which better not translate to a butterfly tattoo or a pierced eyebrow.
So, in parenting, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it may or may not be that of an oncoming train. Yes, it’s a mixed bag, this raising of the offspring, their inevitable morph into actual people. You beg them to grow, then you get misty when they oblige. Oh, well. You can’t put a brick on their heads and keep them from growing any more than when I tried to force my angry newborn son to age by the sheer force of my will.
Nah, I guess I’m okay being both the Yahoo Mom and the Boohoo Mom as Miss Thang launches herself into the world of institutionalized learning. Sure, I’ll miss my finger-paintings and stick-figure drawings as time inevitably marches (and usually all over my face. But I digress).
But as it turns out, the more love you invest in these little boogers, the more interest it seems to collect. So go ahead and grow, little ones. Mommy will find a way to always be nearby, sometimes to your great shame and chagrin. It’s my job no matter how old you get. As the story goes: as long as you’re living, your Mommy I’ll be.