By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
Seven days are all that’s left of summer break. The back-to-school countdown has begun, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s bittersweet, really. Part of me is glad for the return of a normal routine, and part of me is sad to see my two boys go off to spend the majority of their day and week away from me.
Next week will be particularly tough when I walk my middle child, Jack, to his first day of kindergarten. It’s hard to believe that he’s already old enough to be leaving for school, and this rite of passage feels like the official end of the “little boy” chapter of his life.
The good news is that I’ve still got 2-year-old Kate at home, and I’m not a newbie kindergarten mom anymore. I went through this emotional transition two years ago with our oldest son, and I cried like a baby all the way home after dropping him off at school that first day. He, on the other hand, did not shed a tear and was thrilled about the new adventure. I’m sure it’ll be the same way for his little brother, and I’m trying to remind myself that I’m not sending him away to Mars. It’s just kindergarten.
Jack couldn’t be happier about the approach of the first day of school. He has already picked out a new Batman backpack and filled it with his school supplies. His chest puffs up a little bit every time someone asks him if he’s ready to go to school because he knows this all-important step will put him in the ranks of the “big boys” like his older brother.
In my heart, I know Jack is truly ready for this step, mostly because his level of curiosity about absolutely everything has recently hit an all-time high. All day, every day, he asks me questions. So very many questions. I do my best to answer his questions with a level of detail that will be enough to satisfy him. But each answer I give leads him to his next question. It feels a little like being on a game show that never, ever ends.
His areas of interest include (but are not limited to) dinosaurs, movies, food, robots, candy, Shrek, cars, basketball, ice cream, restaurants, snakes, and anything that happens in the bathroom. The other day we had quite a lengthy question-and-answer session about poop when he asked me “Mom, what was the first thing that ever pooped?” I had no idea. If any of you happen to know, send me an e-mail because Jack is still waiting for an answer about prehistoric poop.
He is also at the age where he realizes that sometimes plants, animals and people die. And he has asked me lots of questions about death and what happens afterward and whether or not there is ice cream in Heaven. I assured him that there is.
Regardless of whether the topic is big or small, Jack wants to know as much as possible. On the way to lunch today, we had this conversation as we passed by a construction zone:
“Mom, what is that thing?”
“That’s a bulldozer, Jack.”
“What is a bulldozer?”
“It’s a machine they use to push dirt around.”
“Why are they pushing dirt around?”
“Because they’re building a new road right here.”
“Why are they building a new road?”
“Because the old one was too narrow and too bumpy.”
“What is that black thing sticking out of the bulldozer?”
“I’m not really sure what that thing is, Jack.”
“You don’t know?”
“No, I don’t know what that is.”
“Mom, why don’t you know?”
“Well… I don’t know why I don’t know. I just don’t.”
“Do the people who make the road ever sleep?”
“Yes, they go home to sleep at night just like you do.”
“Mom, do they poop while they’re at home?”
“Yes, I’m sure they do.”
“What happens if they have to poop while they’re riding on the bulldozer?”
“Ask Dad when he gets home from work.”
* * *
Like I said, only seven days left until school starts. I think we’re ready. I just hope Jack’s kindergarten teacher is full of answers. She’s gonna need them.