I'm Incredibly Neurotic About Kindergarten

Less than a month, y'all. In less than a month, I'll have my very first school-aged child. My (biggest) little man is going to Kindergarten.

He's excited. But I? Am terrified.

For some reason (most likely my sheer awesomeness) I was never teased about anything in school - not that I remember, anyway. Looking back, that's probably amazing, since I had like a quarter-sized gap in my teeth and eyebrows that made me look like the love child of Brooke Shields and Groucho Marx. (And you guys have seen my hair.)

Plus my mom dressed me in outfits like this:

Seriously, Mom? The collar and the bow? REALLY?

Anyway, for whatever reason (miracle?), I never had to worry about bullies or feel self-conscious - but I always felt sorry for the kids who did. And now that Colin is getting ready to start school, the thought of him being teased or made to feel sad - especially while I'm not there to protect him - just petrifies me. 

He's never been an outcast, exactly, but he's never totally fit in anywhere with other kids his age. I never sent him to preschool - something I fear may have been a mistake, for the social aspect if nothing else. But, like, at the playground or Sunday school or wherever else there are kids, Colin always wants to hang out with the adult in charge. He endlessly watches surgeries and plant documentaries on YouTube and tends to talk about those ... which makes the other kids (and sometimes the grownups too) look at him like he's completely crazy. 

And he stutters. It's fairly mild, and it comes and goes, but it's there. I'm so used to it that I hardly notice it most of the time - but I see the looks on the faces of waitresses and grocery store checkers when he's talking to them and he strains to get a word or two out. Their expressions always change. Sometimes they look like they think he's joking, sometimes they look like they're listening harder in order to understand him, but very few people look like they don't notice. Reason number 1,082 that I'm scared for him to be around people who might tease him.    

Now, for the record, let me just say that I love my son's quirks. All these things are endearing to me, and to everyone else who loves him: Colin just wouldn't be Colin if he were any other way. But I'm afraid that other kids might see them as reasons to tease. He's so gentle and passive that I'm afraid he'll be targeted, and won't do or say anything about it, and it'll just make him miserable.  

The icing on the cake? He's begging me, begging me, to let him grow his hair out like Justin Bieber's for school:

The problem is, this is Colin's hair:

I'm betting Justin Bieber was a lot more tamely coiffed as a baby.

I never fully understood why mothers cried on their children's first day of school, and I'm still not completely sure: is it that "my baby is growing up" feeling? Or are all mommies as neurotic and worried as me, afraid that they're sending their little lamb off to a lions' den? Am I just, like, being overdramatic?

Advice and experiences, please!  


  1. Oh man, I feel for ya Reet! I would feel the EXACT same way, and even though I still have a long while, I'm already worried, too. I think it's totally natural, and I'm sure a little bit of both the reasons you mentioned. All you can hope for is that he trusts you enough to come to you if there is anything bothering him so that you can go to the school and see if anything can be done. I would bet, though, that you've raised him to be well-rounded enough that he'll just get along with everyone, just like you did! :)

  2. Oh Lord, I think it is all of that. My Baby Girl starts kindergarten in August and I'm completely freaked out about all kinds of stuff. Her growing up, her not having friends, the teacher not "getting" her, her inability to shut up for even five seconds. Ok, I'm going to have a panic attack so I'll stop now. Just know that you are not alone.

  3. Hayden went to kindergarten for the first time last year. It was a lot harder than I thought and I totally cried. I think its just hard to let go and know that you are no long in total control of what happens to them. Its really scary to put your child out there in the world.

    Also, Hayden is a really quirky kid. A lot of kids don't understand him but he enjoys people and thankfully, has a really strong spirit. He has had to learn how to deal with kids who don't always want to play with him. But he has found his own friends in school.

    It will all be ok, I promise.

  4. My oldest is starting kindergarten this fall, too. And I'm very nervous for him. Like yours, mine likes to hang out with the adult in charge. And he also has no patience for people who don't know something that he already does. I think he's sweet and brilliant, but he doesn't fit in as easily as other kids. And I'll want to kick some little kid butt if he gets teased.

  5. My son Braden, will be a second grader this coming year, and he the average size of a fourth grader, so he is MUCH bigger than the other boys and girls his age. It is sad to say that older kids are the ones to pick on our younger ones, and I get stories from other moms all the time about how Braden stood up for them to the "big" kids. I am glad that he feels compassion for his friends and wants to protect them. With his size, I hope that he continues down that path and doesn't turn into a bully one day. I would like to believe I have raised him better than that, and always praise him when I hear of a story from another mom about my little protector. I await your post about what an awesome day Colin had his first day of school this fall! :)

  6. Oh my girl, let me tell you. My oldest girl was so shy and she stuttered, too. It killed me every time because she would hold her hand over her mouth so self consciously as she tried to get the words out. Every day I sent her to school, I would agonize over whether this would be the day she found a friend. She didn't for a long time, but then there came the day she made a friend. And then another. And another. It was never easy for her. But I realize now letting her find her way, even though at times, it was the most heartbreaking thing I ever did, was also the very best gift I ever gave her.

    She was a kindergartner what seemed like yesterday. Today she is a sophomore in college, bright and bubbly and confident because she did it herself.

    He'll be fine. Hugs to you Mom. I know exactly how you feel.

  7. I do and don't want that day to come! I do because I'll have a little more "spare" time with the other 2 kids. But I don't for the same reasons you have mentioned. I want him to fit in! My oldest is soooo shy and sensitive that I worry about him. I'm glad he has one more year of preschool left!

  8. is it me or....did you actually have justin bieber's hair in kindergarten, too?

  9. As a first grade teacher, I will say he probably won't get teased for his stutter, but he might get teased for a Justin Beiber haircut.

  10. Oh Rita, those were my *exact* fears. I just agonized about some little brat hurting my sweet, gorgeously confidant child with cruel words. I dread the day Jonah becomes self-conscious. Jonah is an only child with limited pre-school experience. Sometimes at the park or wherever I would see him try and play with some other kids and get totally rejected and it was PAINFUL for me. I was really worried kindergarten would kill some of my kid's tender spirit because I know other children can be downright mean.

    Here's what I learned: kids are nicer than we give them credit for. Jonah made some really, really good friends. But he also pretty much played with all the kids. I would try to nonchalantly question him about potential bullies and there was never much to report. There was one kid who was a general bully and was mean to all kids. I pretty much encouraged Jonah to stick up for himself and his friends and to ignore this kid. But I didn't even need to do that - Jonah knew. Jonah also seemed to instinctively know that when another kid didn't want to play with him on some particular day or said something not nice to him, that it wasn't really his problem. It never affected his self-esteem. He just shrugged it off and moved on. His resilience amazes me because I am painfully self-critical and take everything to heart. He's so much more sensible than me. And I work really hard to keep that alive in him and to never, ever give him any reason to doubt his own awesomeness.

  11. It doesn't go away. My son's starting third grade (WTF!) I always worry if the other kids are being nice and if he's making friends, and on and on and on that it's amazing I can send them to school at all. Because the easier thing would be to just keep them home away from all the mean kids.

    But thankfully, my kid seems for the most part, oblivious to my fears and does great.

  12. Colin is awesome, and he'll be fine. It's so hard to send them off into the world, though. I felt the same way every time one of you kids started school. I just wanted to hold you and protect you from everything. Your Aunt Judy and I always got together on the first day of kindergarten and drank hot tea and cried about our little ones growing up. It's a family tradition! ;o)

  13. Ok, first of all - hair is nothing some good hair product can't fix. LOL

    Second, I feel your pain. I can still see my kids going off to their first day of school. It will be wonderful and exciting. No worries.

  14. In Italy we have this said that literally is "don't bandage your head before breaking it",if you know what I mean, it's useless to worry like this about things that hopefully won't even occur, and in case you will face them IF an when they'll occur, and with your smartness you'll surely face it very well. :D

  15. Oh Rita! You really must get together with my sil, Sheila! She is sending her BABY off to kindergarten this year and is about to have a breakdown! LOL I'm one of those Moms that did NOT cry when they started school or whatever else might of brought on the tears for most moms. I made up for it with the mother/son dance at Ely & Liz's wedding reception (cried like a little girl bein' teased on the playground)
    He will be fine!

  16. I have given you an award @ http://throwingpaintblog.blogspot.com/2010/07/award-and-follow-me-back-tuesday.html !

    My peanut started preschool last fall and will be going again (to preschool that is) in the fall. She the kind of kid who does goofy things just to make adults laugh and some times her little friends do get it, but it's her. You can;t worry about him being him just encourage it. I totaly had athing for a boy who had a stuttering problem in highschool, it was adorable, so those things can have their plus's.

  17. I worry the same about my daughter when she goes off to pre-school this year. But I have it a little easier because my mother is a teacher there. I know she won't have a huge influence on her, but it's just a slight relief for me.

    My daughter can be a very "close talker" and it makes me uncomfortable for the kid she's trying to talk to...

  18. awwww . . . I'm willing to bet that the day comes and goes. He has a good time. And that he meets a new friend or two. And that all your worry will have been for not. At least I hope that's what happens.

  19. I never realized that you and Shan S. had the same haircut in elementary school!

  20. I cried because it was an end of an era - he was growin up and going out to SCHOOL. The whole dynamic of mommyhood was changing. And while he is still my little boy (altho he denies it violently... ok an eyeroll), he started growing away from me that day. Which is as it should be. But still... sniff sniff.


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