Today was Dash's first day of pre-K and I am absolutely wrung out by it. Even though it's at the same school he's attended for a year. Even though it's with a teacher he's had before and absolutely adores. Even though he'll be with his best friends. Even though he's only 3 1/2 and will have to repeat the entire class before it's time for kindergarten. Despite everything, I'm sitting here weepy and a mess. And I know why. It's the pencil case.
They sent a note home from school asking parents to assemble a personalized pencil case for new pre-Kers. They want to teach the kids to be responsible for their own tools; to take ownership of something and be held to account for it. And I am in full support. I love the idea that he will finally start to learn that he, and he alone, must manage his most important belongings. That it's not Mama's job to remember every detail of his life and anticipate his every whim. Honestly (I tell myself), it'll be a giant relief.
Except. Except it's another small step away from us. Another assertion of independence. Another thing to learn that will make us slightly less necessary.
I embrace it, of course. I am thankful to be able to give him these small gifts of liberation that will add up eventually (more quickly than I'll be ready, I am guessing) to self-reliance. I want nothing more than for him to grow into the kind of kid, teenager and adult that can manage his life and its contents. I want him to be able to trust himself to take care of business.
But still. My heart is a little broken today. Another little piece of my baby is gone, replaced by a boy. A boy with a pencil case.