Ready...or not - FamilyEducation

Ready...or not

May 08,2009
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

I have always--all my life--been one to get a head start on processing change, or upcoming traumatic events (the loss of a pet, loss of a loved one). Rather than waiting until the thing happens, I face it head on months before I need to. When I was pregnant with T., for instance, I spent weeks mourning the loss of L.'s only child status, and worrying about the shift from a family of three to a family of four. Hormones running rampant, I would weep over silly story books, or simple moments with L., as I tried to come to terms with the transition. When the time came, I had processed so much of the emotions involved that I think I was better able to tackle it all head on. I also spent weeks wringing my hands over the decision to send L. to preschool when he was three. By the time he did disappear through those now familiar white doors, I felt a strange calm inside. All this is leading up to say that for months now I've been processing T.'s transition from preschool to kindergarten. I've written about it, thought about it, talked about it, dreamed about it, even. Yesterday, at the Mother's Day Tea ceremony at T.'s preschool I sat in the tiny, cramped preschool chair, my knees jammed under the table, and I thought about how even though I've known for some time that T. is ready for kindergarten, I certainly wasn't feeling ready myself. At least I hadn't been feeling very ready until that very moment when, looking around at those same walls that had housed L. when he was in his last year of preschool, I realized that I was feeling some real glimmers of excitement over this new stage in our lives--just glimmers, but they were there all the same. ********** Before bed each night, and after stories, T. always asks me to make up a story "from my mouth" and then she provides me with a brief plot outline, and character names. Lately she wants all stories about poor children with no toys, so I always oblige and tell her tales about little girls named Sarah Louise or Mary Kate who have no toys but dolls they make out of paper and scraps of string from their mother's sewing basket (because their mom makes all their clothes, and tends to her own organic garden, AND makes her own jam as well). Then I remembered last week that when my sister and I were kids we loved to make paper dolls. We had other toys, of course (though not as many as T. and L. do), but paper dolls were our favorites. So T. and I sat down to make our own dolls: My Doll (This one's mine) T.'s Doll (This one is T.'s--she calls her Bridget) We designed and cut out clothes (easy, but be sure to leave generous tabs at the shoulders and legs so you can fold them onto the doll's bodies). We also made hats for them, and because they were such floppy creatures, we glued a craft stick onto their backs. I won't say T. is ready to donate all her toys and stuffies and play only with these two dolls, or that I will learn to sew, but these dolls have become the center of T.'s little world lately, which makes me smile. Happy Mother's Day to all, and Happy Weekend!