Monkey is a sensitive kid. He is slow to warm up to big new situations. He is friendly to unfamiliar kids on the playground, but apt to feel hurt if they don't want to play with him and likely to feel sad when he leaves them. What are the 14 other kids in his classroom going to be like and how will the treat one another? More importantly, what kind of teachers will he have? Will they be the kind that can read the dynamics of a classroom and teach accordingly? Will they be the kind that actively help kids like and understand each other? Or will they be the kind to turn a blind eye to bullying and bad behavior, waiting lazily for the clock to strike 2:30?
I want what most parents want for their children. I want my son to be happy and to enjoy learning. I hope he has friends, but doesn't feel a crushing need to be popular, especially at a cost. I want him to be kind, but stand up for himself--and others--when necessary. I want him to find something he loves and excels in and something he loves and has to work hard to succeed in. I want him to feel safe in school. I want him to feel good about telling me the issues he is facing, whether it's difficulty sharing toys in Pre-K or difficulty expressing his thoughts in high school.
What I fear is him getting hurt. I fear seeing him sad. I fear the day he realizes that not all people are good or fair, not even the adults. I fear not realizing something is wrong at school until too late. I fear experiences that will alter his heart for years or decades to come. But I know I can't parent from a place of fear. I cannot wrap Monkey or his little sister in bubble wrap, hoping only the bubbles burst and not my children's innocence.
For now, I will bring as much joy and excitement to tomorrow as I can. I will walk him to his bus and join him for the first hour of school. Then I will leave him with his new teachers and new friends and wave goodbye.