Our kids both started preschool this week. This is uncharted territory for our family in so many ways. First time we’ve been put on a Monday-Friday schedule. (Levi goes MWF, and Charlotte goes T,TH.) First time we’ve left our kids for an extended period in the care of non-family members. First time our kids are making friends with kids whose parents we’ve never met. First time we’ve enforced a strict bedtime and needed to wake kids up at a certain time in the morning. First time I won’t be able to get an exact play by play of what my kids do in the course of a morning.
Parenting is a long journey of letting go of control, first the little stuff and eventually the big stuff. I’ve caught glimpses of this process in the past, but this school thing is a big leap. Levi and Charlotte really like to be around children in their peer group, and I know we could have and probably should have provided more opportunities for them to interact with other kids in the last few years. Preschool will give them ample time to make connections and learn to navigate the social structure of childhood. On the other hand, I can’t help but worry that my spider-loving tomboy will face inevitable princess-ification, and my ever-gentle, Lego-Friends-loving boy will start to hit back. (Up to this point, he’s reacted to violence by his peers with laughter or words like “stop” and “no”.)
I am very aware that I can’t keep my kids under my roof forever. Sooner or later, they need to make it out into the world. But when I think about how appalled I am sometimes when I learn things about what “average Americans” are doing, eating, and saying, I just want to hug my kids tighter and keep them away from everything mean and sad and overly commercialized and hydrogenated. That’s not really how life and parenting works, however, and sheltering my kids won’t allow them to grow into whole human beings.
Levi and Charlotte are going about life unscathed by my (and to a lesser degree Henry’s) parenting dilemas. They’re pretty happy doing whatever. Theoretically, Levi will start kindergarten a year from now, and Charlotte will follow just one year later. We’ve got a lot to think about and decide, and for the first time in a while, homeschooling seems to be back as an option on the table. We’ll see…