One month from today, The May Queen will begin Kindergarten.
This will be a big day for us, and not just because it's Kindergarten (yes, with a capital K, doesn't it feel like it deserves that?) but because we fought long and hard to get her into Kindergarten.
MQ's birthday falls three days after the cutoff here in Louisiana. In California, where she was born, the cutoff date is much later, and so we always assumed she'd be starting Kindergarten this fall, 2007. After we moved here and discovered the cutoff date, I spent many an hour fretting over this because I believed she would be ready this fall.
I tried not to push it too soon. Oh, I worried about it, but I didn't start making phone calls, didn't start talking to teachers, until about December of last year. I had very purposely not talked to her preschool teacher about it because I wanted to get her unbiased opinion. Then, one day, I appoached her teacher. I told her I wanted to talk about MQ and our options for next year. The teacher stopped what she was doing, looked me straight in the eye and said "She needs to be in Kindergarten." She then went on to tell me she would do whatever she could to help, because MQ was ready for Kindergarten, and she would be bored out of her mind if she didn't go.
I was thrilled that someone other than her proud parents felt the same way, and so I began calling the school district. And then the school board. And then the principal of the elementary school she would attend. Nobody seemed to really know the answer to whether or not she could be admitted early, whether or not she could be tested. I got transfered here and transfered there. I talked to friends who talked to friends. I think I called everyone but the janitor. And finally, the answer I got was "we just don't do that." Never mind what is right for the child, we go strictly by the calendar. Sigh.
So we approached a private school we had spoken to before. They said if MQ passed an assessment test by a child psychologist they would accept her, with the understanding that if it didn't work out, we would decide together to pull her. OK. The meeting with the psychologist went very well, and he gave the nod, and so MQ was in!! Whew! Years of worry over.
Oh... but now I start to doubt it. Not really, because I know, I KNOW that she is ready. I know that she will be bored if she has to go through Pre-K again. I know that socially she will be fine. I know that she will still be taller than nearly every kid in the class, even though she will be the youngest. And yet... I worry.
I look at her and think "How can she possibly be old enough to go to Kindergarten?" I worry that I have made the wrong decision. I look at her sweet innocence and worry about impending schoolyard alliances, ever shifting and ever fickle. I wonder if I am robbing her of a year of childhood.
It didn't help that when we went in to order the school uniforms, which I tried to present to her in a fun and exciting way (even though I balk at the ugly colors and the huge price tag) she become sullen, shy and uncooperative because they did not come in pink, purple or blue (even though I warned her beforehand that her choices would be maroon or white). She hid behind me, refused to smile at the secretary, wouldn't try things on. And I worried that she was being judged. That I was being judged. Not Ready. But that's not who she usually is. Yes, she can be stubborn, but she loves to learn. She loves school. She's generally pleasant and friendly.
I know in my head that we are doing the right thing. But my heart is having a hard time letting go of my baby. It's harder, I think, because it was a choice. We could have chosen to keep her back, to accept the cutoff date as the final authority. But instead we chose to fight for her. We fought for her to jump into learning before she gets bored. We fought so that she would not be so big that she would feel awkward and withdraw, or conversely use her size and bossiness (yes, I said it, she's bossy) to become a bully. We fought so that now, when she is ready and eager to learn she will be given the opportunity to grow.
We fought so that our baby, our May Queen, could take another step away from us. Another step towards growing up. Another step towards becoming the best person she can be.
Now if I can just keep myself from grabbing her and running the other way, we'll be all set.