A Tale of Two Kiddies / by Susie Lubell

I went in last week for my son's mid-year performance evaluation, I mean, parent-teacher conference. I had already basically made up my mind that we would keep him in preschool another year. Although not this preschool. We'd been looking at "Young Fives" programs in the area and I'd found two that I really liked and we are on the waiting list for both. My son has an October birthday but we'd sort of always assumed that he would go ahead to kindergarten younger than most. That's what my husband and I both did. And our older brothers. And we all turned out fine. Although my husband is now having flash backs of being a 5 foot three inch senior and not really enjoying the whole social aspect of high school...but I digress...

So we moved him to preK this year and it was a total nightmare. Or at least a massive miscalculation. He basically cried every morning before leaving for school and when I'd ask him in the afternoon who he played with he would say no one. I played by myself. Now he didn't seem overly bothered by this so I just nodded and said, hmm, great, meanwhile projecting all of my worst insecurities about being liked in school and having friends on this poor kid who's quite content to just ride a trike around the blacktop thirty times and call it a day. 

And even now, four months later, he's only kind of getting into it. We have our morning routine down and he's only rarely "creepy" in the morning. Goodbyes are never dramatic. He still clings to me during field trips. But he's started talking about a few friends which thrills me to no end. He's even been invited to some birthday parties. Kids who are turning five mind you. So that's been nice. Although he won't talk to anyone when we go. Less nice. Anyway, none of this behavior could have prepared me for the parent teacher conference. A snippet:

Your son has made a 180 degree change. He has really blossomed. Everyone adores him. He doesn't much want to play with the teachers anymore. He picks and chooses his friends and he does so wisely. He's always raising his hand and participating in the class. He has a lot of energy. He's excellent at negotiating his relationships. He demands an apology and forgives immediately. He's extremely imaginative. And he's almost reading. He's the kid that makes teachers cry when we think about how far he's come. He is COMPLETELY ready for kindergarten.

Huh? I mean I love this kid dearly. He's really the light of my life but, huh? This is the same kid that won't start eating dinner unless his blue booster seat is lined up perfectly with the chair beneath it. Or the kid who will only wear his black jeans during the week and his brown "weekend" pants on the weekend. And only blue socks or the stripy ones that his aunt gave him or his frosty the snowman socks that his other aunt gave him (these amazing women clearly know my son). I mean I have to say that I was totally flabbergasted. I admit I have seen a difference in him over the last few weeks. My husband even noticed. But I thought for sure they'd agree with me to hold him back. 

So now we're in a quandary again. I'm signing him up for kindergarten in the end, which is a lottery for the magnet program in our neighborhood, plus these two special preschool programs for fall birthday kids. I guess we'll just see where he gets in. I would love to send him ahead just to save on preschool tuition, and if he's actually ready, then all the better. But I have one friend with older boys who says she regrets sending her oldest ahead and he's an August birthday. At the time he was also ready for kindergarten. But by the time middle school rolls around it can be brutal for the youngest boys in the class. Another woman I met said she just wished she'd have her daughter around the house for one more year since she's going college at age  seventeen. One thing's for sure. I'm glad my daughter's birthday is in February. And if we have a third, I will plan accordingly.