“Let them be little.”
I feel like that sentiment is drilled into our heads over and over as moms.
“Let them be little.”
But what about letting them be big? And brave? Braver than we are sometimes?
I’d heard stories about the bus. The bullying, the fighting, the older kids coaxing the kindergartners to do something inappropriate. So when I repeatedly asked my soon-to-be kindergartner this summer if he wanted to ride the bus or if he wanted me to take him to school, I breathed a sigh of relief every single time he said, “I want you to take me, Mommy!”
I seriously must’ve asked him 20 times. The answer was always the same. So as I snuggled him on our couch the night before his first day of kindergarten, soaking in every last minute before my first born went off to school, and he blurted out, “The bus is going to be SO fun tomorrow!” you could’ve picked my jaw up off of the floor.
“What Buddy? I thought I was taking you?”
He looked so sad and I could tell that he truly wanted to ride the bus. I sat there in silence. I know this sounds dramatic because kids literally ride the bus every single day, but I felt like in a one-minute time span I did some serious soul searching. I realized I was pushing MY fears, hesitations and anxieties onto him. HE was being brave–something we always preached. HE wanted to try something new, something we always encouraged him to do.
HE wasn’t scared. I was.
Back in 3-year-old preschool, the teachers had to peel my son from my leg. It only lasted for a few weeks but then came back with a vengeance after winter break. His initial reaction to preschool did not surprise me. He and I spent our days together from day one of his life. Independence, for both of us, was not a strong suit.
As he insisted that he wanted to ride the bus, I still pictured him as that sad three-year-old. All I could see was the teachers peeling him from my leg and me pushing him through the doorway. The boy before me now was different. Everything we hope for as mamas was all of a sudden slapping me in the face. He is finding this independence. Who am I to push my fears onto my five-year-old who is ready to take this whole Kindergarten world head on? So I swallowed my fears, pretended like I didn’t care that he no longer “needed me,” and semi-faked my excitement for him.
He is becoming his own person, and it simultaneously makes me sad and proud to watch him grow.
I felt like he no longer needed me, but then I remembered:
He doesn’t need me to drop him off anymore, but he needs me to walk with him to the bus stop.
He doesn’t need me to walk him into school anymore, but as he steps onto the bus and without fail turns around and waves, he needs me to be there to wave back.
He doesn’t need me to pick him up after school, but when he gets off of the bus, he needs me to be there to catch him as he sprints to me and leaps into my arms.
He still needs me, just in a different way.
So many of our babies started school over the past several weeks. All different grades, different schools, and different personalities, but I bet we all had a “bus moment” where we saw their little independence growing and felt that they needed us a little less. So as you forge ahead into the school year, I want to pass along the best advice that I received from a dear friend:
“Remember, he needs you differently now, not less!”