Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One More Year

The week before school was out for summer, we attended the first and final performance of the 3rd grade's interpretation of Rise to the Revolution, a play about the Boston Tea Party. Wyatt played John Adams (we are descendants of his, don't ask me how) proudly and there was only one on-stage emergency when one of his classmates got a bloody nose mid-scene.

Imagine the shock of his mother when they stopped everything, announced her name in the microphone and requested her presence onstage!

She's okay, I gave her a drink from my flask and it really helped . . . I kid!

Anyway, the whole school was there, including both of the boys' past and present teachers. When the play was over, amidst the chaos of loading 200 metal chairs on those silly chair holders and wheeling them into some secret storage in the cafeteria that served as our theater, we stood around and visited with the other parents of our kids' friends.

"I can't believe how tall she has gotten!"

"Oh my gosh, she has grown up so much since I've seen her last."

"Look how long her hair is!"

"You really are a big girl now Katie!"

"She is going to kindergarten in the fall, right?"

No.

No she isn't going to kindergarten in the fall. Katie's birthday is in November, separating her from any reasonable reason to start early by at least 2 months. I remember having the same problem with Wyatt when he was this age, but tack on an extra month (he is an October baby) and it is magnified.

"But she is ready," said one well-meaning mom.

"She could just go into a split class and stay in it for 2 years," said another.

We don't have a split class option at our school, I'm not sure what she was talking about. It's not that I don't like to hear other people's thoughts on how my daughter has grown, but I wish sometimes that they'd not talk so openly about the fact that most of her friends will be attending kindergarten in the fall, without her.

She is aware, although I think the whole thing isn't very real yet, that her best friend and her cousin (both of whom she is especially close to) will be heading off to big kid school without her. I know I can't shield her from the hurt, but darn it, I wish I could. It was hard for her to see last years preschool buddies start pre-K without her - she waves at them from the 3-4's class when they go by . . .

"Hi! Hi! It's me, Katie!" she yells, and then goes back to watching her classmates pick their noses and struggle to form their letters.

She is smart, she can write all of our names and knows each letter of the alphabet (this must be a girl thing, no?). She practices adding on her fingers with her brothers and counts to one hundred, but in many ways she is still four. She is emotional - oh boy, is she emotional. And although I do not expect to get a reprieve from her emotions even when she is in kindergarten, I am very aware that they are definitely age appropriate.

I never took into consideration the struggles a fall baby has - being older than their classmates, or possibly being the youngest and constantly trying to compensate. I was a spring baby (like my first born), there was no questioning when I'd start school, there was no pondering making sure that I was challenged. I was always fine, stuck in the middle of mediocre, fine.

I know she will be okay. I know her friendships will weather this. I know she will be more than ready in 2009, when it is finally her turn and she can load her backpack up with all her school supplies and jump on that school bus without looking back . . .

But I just wish people would stop talking so much about the fact that she has one more year, in front of her, as if we didn't know that already.

16 comments:

Lisa said...

But on the upside, she's got an extra year with you all to herself. And you've got that year too. That's pretty awesome!

First Rough Draft said...

That's hard. Overall, I'd say she's lucky to be among the oldest in her class. She'll be a little advanced in the beginning when months make a difference, and later she'll be the first to get her driver's license, etc. I have a summer birthday and was always the one of the last in my class to do anything.

But I agree that it would be so much better if everyone didn't talk about it in front of her. It's hard to be left behind, and she doesn't need it thrown in her face. Hopefully she (and you) will be able to focus on the positives -- like all the fun of one more year of preschool.

Sandy C. said...

Ugh, I'm so sorry they did that. I KNOW that it's probably a tough pill to swallow. I was also a November baby that was held back a year. My next door neighbor and I were the same age (but his b-day in Spring). He started kindergarten and I watched him walk home from school everyday outside my bedroom window :(

It all works out in the end though. I think when I started kindergarten, I was ready. I made instant friends, and come high school, I ended up graduating early.
Good for you for listening to your instincts. You know your child best :)

mamikaze said...

You did not have a flask at a school play?! Please tell me I am gullible and missing the joke. You crack me up.

As for the school thing, it all works out in the end. Social maturity is forty times more important for school success than academic performance. I taught Pre-K several years and the extra year of practice makes a world of good. Plus, she will have a leg up as the older of her class. It always better to be the oldest than the youngest when it comes to school.

ame i. said...

I so understand. I have 2 January babies, 2 days short of being 2 years apart. Their Pre-K teacher was a retired Kindergarten teacher. Both were able to read and write before Kindergarten, making it a very boring year for them.
I was excited after their I.Q. test scores came in, then disappointed to learn the only provisions that could be made for them was skipping a grade and attending the gifted class for 2 hours a week. I didn't let them skip a grade, but they enjoyed disecting owl pellets this past spring in g.c.

Shania said...

I'm going through this exact same thing with Silas. He's a Sept (3rd) baby, and he could go to "big guy" school this fall. But I don't want him to. I want one more year with him. I also want him to be the oldest in class for some of the reasons already commented on. And he's having a hard time with it as well. I've heard at least three times just today that "5 guys" (meaning 5 years old) go to big guy school and he's going to be five.

I hope your little one adjusts. At least you don't have a choice so she can't blame you!

OHmommy said...

People stink.

We held Jay back a year. And have gotten so much hate from it.

Anyways.

As a former teacher.

I know that it is legal to have your child tested, by the school, for readiness, even if they have missed the cut off. Have you looked into that?

Christy said...

I'm with Lisa (and anyone else who might've said this)--you'll both get another year together. Sometimes when I feel like I would give anything to go back to that time, just for a little while (my girls are 8 & 11 now.)

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm in California, where we have a December 2 cutoff. My youngest, is a November 11 birthday; she started at age 4. I have never, ever regretted it.

I think it's important to look at the continuum of where the child will be, not just where they are when they start. The women in our family tend to be early bloomers, so that really factored into my decision. Turns out she's not an early bloomer. Still, starting at 4was best for her.

The other 3 kids were Feb, March and May--much better planning!

Beth from the Funny Farm said...

Two of my kids are some of the oldest in their grades. They are better off for it!

LiteralDan said...

This is always a problem-- where do they draw the cutoff line? Someone's always going to be left behind.

My sister has been friends for 20 years with a neighborhood girl who missed the cutoff, even though they each developed their own separate circle of friends and such.

She'll probably not like it the first few years, but then she'll get over it as she finds more friends in her grade. Being the oldest in your grade can be a great thing, so it should balance out.

painted maypole said...

i know this... we were fortunate to be able to get MQ in early, but what poor Katie is going thru is one of the things we worried about.

she will be fine, as you know she will, and she'll make more friends and shine in her new classes

Indy said...

People drive me crazy. My son had to wait a year and every had (and still) has an opinion. Good luck ignoring them all.

Jen said...

I totally feel your pain. My daughter missed the cutoff by 26 measly days. I contemplated trying to get special permission to have her go earlier, but I think down the line it will be better for her to be the oldest in her class.

Heidi said...

Leave it up to the general population to state the obvious. I was pushed forward when kindergarten came around and to this day my parents wish they had held me back for more growing time. All things happen for a reason.

All Adither said...

Might I suggest a nice pair of furry earmuffs. To block the mwah-mwah-mwah of "one more year".

Think of how prepared she'll be when the time comes!