As the end of summer draws near, and I am about to send my first child off to kindergarten, I find myself thinking about these first five years of her life and how different things will be from now on. While starting school brings many new exciting adventures, it also signifies the end of some wonderful experiences as well.
The freedom that our children have in the first five years is a freedom that they will likely never have again.
I think it is something that can be underrated and should be taken advantage of while possible. They do not have to go to school, have homework, or have major responsibilities. Of course, they may have some type of preschool or daycare in there, but this does usually not compare to the structure of a school environment and expectations. Once they enter kindergarten, it starts the beginning of school all day, five days a week, with homework responsibilities and extracurriculars, and of course, all of this leads to college or the workforce. For it is only the first short five years of life in which there are no expectations of this.
I hear a lot of people talk about the first five years and say they can’t wait for their kids to be old enough to do certain things, like sleeping through the night or being potty trained, but as I have come to realize, it happens all too fast that they grow up and accomplish these things. Even though they are challenging years with the late-night feedings, diapers, toddler tantrums, potty training, and learning boundaries, we should try to cherish the freedom they have. Because before we know it, they will be in school, expected to be there on time, all day, and do homework for the next 12 years, and then this expectation will continue into adulthood in some capacity as well.
The freedom early childhood offers will most likely not come again, and I am sad to see it end for my daughter. However, I know this is necessary. I know she is excited to start school, make friends and learn new things. And even though I have many worries, like her adjusting to this new school, new schedule, new demands, and of course, it is hard to ignore the safety concerns nowadays, I do not want my worries to become her worries. She doesn’t realize this freedom she has had is about to end, she only sees the opportunity.
So, I will lead her in on that first day, perhaps with a tear or two, and do my best to let her go out into this world to be the person she is destined to become. For all of us moms, about to send our children off to kindergarten, let’s hold on to the memories of the first five years, and look forward to making new ones that will no doubt play a large role in shaping the people our children will become.