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My son may be ready for school … but I’m not

Editor’s note: While Patty Kimerer takes a week off, we offer this back-to-school Classic Kimerer that first ran Sept. 4, 2005:

OK, this is it. This is the week that my 5-year-old starts school — for real. No, not the part-time preschool that I finally got used to; after two years of toe-testing the waters, I was finally starting to get comfortable wading into those half-days, three times a week. But this? This is it.

KINDERGARTEN. I believe that’s a German derivative, meaning: to cause maternal distress and anxiety.

You see, while I have bought all the school supplies, signed up for the chocolate milk program and timed the trajectory from our house to the school at least 42 times, I am far from prepared.

Oh sure, I’ve convinced Kyle that I’m ready — and, more importantly, that he’s ready. Every day for the past several dozen, I’ve been doling out doozies.

“This is going to be so much fun!” “I can’t wait for you to start school.” “The time that we’re away from each other will just fly by.”

Lies. Pure propaganda.

The truth is, as much as I want him to be excited and happy and eager, I am scared to death.

It is truly frightening, the sheer volume of worries inundating my brain now that the reality of Kyle’s first day of school is upon me. My mind has become a springboard for disturbing questions, and I’m drowning in them. Believe me, it’s getting a little crowded up there in my neurotic, stream-of-consciousness noggin.

I’m agonizing over everything, such as:

Will he behave like a perfect little gentleman with his teachers and classmates? Will he share well and play nicely? What if he’s playing nicely and someone is mean to him? Will he be afraid to answer questions when called on? Will he even know the answers to the questions?

Have I sufficiently drilled it into his head not to put things in his ears, nose, mouth or any other bodily opening? Did I impress on him the importance of never leaving the class group; especially during recess? Who will he hang out with at recess?

Is he absolutely clear on NEVER taking rides, candy or anything else from strangers? Will his new buddies be good or bad influences? What if he doesn’t make any new buddies? Will he eat all of his lunch? What if he chokes or gags on his lunch? Will he wash his hands after lunch?

What about after going to the bathroom? Oh LORD, the bathroom!

You see how this process alone could theoretically consume the entire expanse of time the kid is in class each day.

I know what you’re thinking: I’m insane for dreading the return of silence and serenity to my house, after 5 1/2 years of nonstop chaos.

“I thought separation anxiety was strictly for children. What’s wrong with me?” I asked my girlfriend Michelle, who was a stay-at-home mom for many years and has been through this twice with her son Joey and daughter Ally.

“Nothing. You’re just a good mom,” said the girl with whom I’ve been friends since we were, ourselves, kindergarten classmates.

“Um, hello? I’ve been waiting and waiting for this time and now that it’s here all I can do is wonder if he’s going to be OK. Is he going to listen to his teachers? What if he trips and falls down? Is he going to pick up germs that will make him sick?” I said, realizing that Kyle’s mommy wasn’t altogether well herself.

“It’s perfectly normal, honey. For the past several years, you’ve been together all day, every day. It’s just rough at first,” my mother reassured me. She, of course, being the one who literally held my hand during Kyle’s very first day of preschool two years ago, when I proceeded to cry in my coffee for 2 1/2 straight hours.

My friend and next-door neighbor Don may have said it best.

“For the first five years of their lives, all you do is eat, sleep and breathe them. You don’t take your eyes off of them and then, suddenly, you have to put them on a bus full of strangers and not see or speak to them for six hours at a time. It’s the craziest thing; it’s not you, Patty,” he told me supportively.

I really think I’m going to need a brown paper bag and a cold forehead compress for all of this. Shoot, Kyle’s going to be fine in comparison to me.

But, hey, don’t worry, folks. I’ll make it. I’ll be OK.

Besides, it’s only a matter of time before my little angel’s back home, freaking me out by leaping off the top of a couch-cushioned family room fort, melting down because he can’t find his Spider-Man Gameboy cartridge and bellowing at the top of his lungs for extra chocolate in his chocolate milk.

Heck, before long, I’ll be dropping him off at school early every morning — by 10th or 11th grade, I just know it.

Kyle Kimerer survived kindergarten and this year earned his bachelor’s degree in digital media from Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., where he also competed on the swim team. His mom still worries. Contact her at pkimerer@zoominternet.net.

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