Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Trepidation vs. Blubbering: Kindergarten Twins

It’s been a long time since my last column. Things have been very busy here of late, and there has been some drama both within my immediate circle and without. I will leave it at that, but the weeks that have passed since my last post have been equal portions good and challenging.

During this passed June, the twins finished their preschool year, the wife visited the mainland with the bear, we’ve visited the Water Park, Waimea Falls, celebrated our 10th Wedding Anniversary with a night in Waikiki, enjoyed the library summer reading program, celebrated Father’s Day…it has been an eventful month, and truth be told, I started several different columns over the month, but either lost interest in the topic, or in one case, decided that upon reflection that the column was perhaps not appropriate for this space.

As I said, it’s been a month. Quite a month.

But moving forward, there are some major changes and transitions underway, the most pressing of which is, the twins are going to kindergarten.

Well, it’s really “Junior Kindergarten” but the concept is about the same. In Hawaii, if your child turns 5 before August 1, they must go to Kindergarten, however, if they turn 5 between August 2 and the end of the year, as mine do, you can enroll them in “Junior Kindergarten.” They follow the same basic curriculum, and at the end of the year, the parent works with the teacher to determine if the child should move on to 1st grade or remain in Kindergarten for another year.

So, after much deliberation, exhaustive research, and paperwork, we have obtained spaces for them at a very good elementary school in our town-not the one we were zoned for, but Hawaii has slightly different rules than NJ did, so, long story shorter-we chose a school we liked and were able to get them spots in Kindergarten.

So, August 3, that’s where I’ll be: dropping them off for their first day of school. Five days a week-full day. Big Change.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that although I am excited for this new challenge for the twins, and they too are excited, it was not without some level of trepidation, or, as my wife would (did, rather) say, “Blubbering” on my part as we got closer to the decision. I prefer my verbiage.

The kindergarten discussion was brought about by a variety of factors, and while I won’t go into them all here, suffice it to say that we weighed every factor involved in either sending them back to preschool, looking for a new preschool, moving forward to kindergarten, or keeping them home. We kicked them all around. As it happened, the kindergarten choice began to look like the best one, and as I thought about my twins moving into a five day school life, I, um…well, I had some feelings about it.

I started thinking about how awesome the twins are together when they are just goofing off together at home. The worlds they create in their play are so tremendous, and they honestly can go for hours just playing together, and with their sister. The imagination and the creativity they display I wrote about in the “Toy” column a few months back, but I started to think about the fact that right now, they have the time to simply goof off. They were only in school two times a week this year for three hours each session. While we did other things when they were out of school, this new schedule will be a major overhaul in the infrastructure that is the life we’ve built for ourselves here. There will be less time for, “Ok-whatever,” and I started to feel that loss very much over this past weekend.

I started to fear for the change in them as kids: who they would become and how their relationship with one another would change. When they aren’t beating the daylights out of one another, they are truly very cute together, and I know they miss one another when they are apart, which has not happened very often. When they are apart, they are always happy to see one another. When they argue or spat, they are quicker to forgive than anyone I’ve ever known.
There has been more than one incident that I wasn’t done policing as the parent, and they were ready to move on. Would that connection continue?

I think so, and I hope so, as they share something very special being twins. They always seem to fall right back into the same banter and rhythm that they always have had, no matter what happens. They watch out for each other. I hope that although they will inevitably make new friends, and will certainly grow and change over the years, that the wife and I continue to create a home for them that is full of love.

I worried that I would lose the amazing chance that I’ve had to bear witness to their innocence and magic. I guess I realized that it was time to share them with the world, and I didn’t want to. So, I had some trepidation. (Still like my description better than that of my wife.)

I’ve spent going on two years now as a full-time-stay-at-home dad. I’ve experienced life in a way that I really never expected to and to do so, I had to move way, way away from my comfort zone. In the process, I suppose I’ve built a new comfort zone, with me and the kids palling around doing our thing, or not doing a thing at all if the mood strikes us. As hard as being a stay-at-home-parent has been at times, when it hit me that that might all be about to change, and they would take yet another step away from me, I, well, alright, full disclosure: I kind of lost it.

I got fixated on who they are now and was worried if I’d done enough to get them ready, I worried about their relationship to each other and to the rest of us, I worried about how they would do, and I worried how I would do. What would I do? Have I been a good parent? Will they be good at school? How long until they don’t want me to tuck them in and read to them, or heaven forbid, sing Bon Jovi, Springsteen, and Sam Cooke songs to them?

So it has been kind of emotional, but I’ve gotten some good thoughts and advice from some friends, including, “Well, they need to learn how to be that amazing with other people too.” That was a good one. Others were encouraging, and I got a lot of, “Oh, they’ll be fine…” type of comments, which I found of varying degrees of comfort depending on the source. In the end, it was something the wife said:

“They can’t be little forever.”

And they can’t do that. Despite our best efforts, life only seems to go in one direction. And though it has in fact been extremely challenging over the past few years, in the end, I think that the twins have done exactly what we wanted them to do: they’ve grown into good kids with loads of personality, loads of imagination, and a ton of spirit.

So in the end, I’ve got to let them go. Granted, their new school is only 7 minutes away, but I won’t be there all the time. Life is once again telling me that my comfort zone has grown too comfortable I suppose.

The kids are excited. We did one of our Investigations, this time focusing on Kindergarten, and we found this short film, which we watched together:

It was cute to watch them get excited about different things: “Wow-we get to eat lunch AT SCHOOL?” and “Ooooo, BLOCKS!” and “Cool-naptime?”

They had to watch it twice. I think they are ready. I just know that I wasn’t, but I think I am now.

After some trepidation, anyway. 


Amy said...

Oh Rob - you've just summed up (quite well, and beautifully, as always!) what most of us parents feel when we send our kids out into the world - it is quite the emotional roller-coaster, isn't it?! And I hate to break it to you (as someone with older kids), but you will go through the same ups and downs with each milestone - the 1st time they walk to school alone, the 1st sleep over, etc., and it doesn't really get easier the 2nd time around with the younger siblings, other than being less surprised by the rush of emotions. And, speaking as a friend, parent, and former kindergarten teacher, I can assure you that your kids really will be fine - they have a loving, stable, secure family as their foundation and everything else they learn and experience will be built on top of that. :) (and it's totally ok to blubber a bit - the best parents always do)

Browniefamily said...


You have been a fantastic dad for your children! The twins are ready and I understand how you feel. It seems too short of a time for this part of their life. I was not ready to send my oldest to school at all when they took him at age three for special classes. The one thing that saved me was going back to school and finishing college in an area that I love. The twins are older and have had great experiences with you. You will find that even though they have school, they will still turn to you for many things; homework, how to handle conflicts, etc. You will also change and start mentoring them and guiding them in making good choices for themselves. Anytime the kids are not on track, you both as parents will be there to guide them back.

I am grateful that you wrote this column. I have much trepidation lately as well (I like you term better too). While my youngest is not ready for Kindergarten yet, it is not too far away. In fact realizing how close he was to K made me acknowledge that I still do not have the credentials to be recognized as a professional in the near future. I have struggled many times with this, as I am not ready to transfer over to this new role. Our oldest has helped me realize that my husband and I are always still here for him. The kids will continue to always ask you for support and help in the challenges in life. Even after they leave home one day.

Breanna said...

i can't believe i just watched that entire video about kindergarten. haha! great post rob :] good luck!! ;] i think that you will be ok and they will be great and then you can just wait for them to come home and tell you cool stories every day