Holding Them Back
January 20, 2011
You may think my latest obsession is premature (although what fun are obsessions if they aren't premature and/or completely out of your control?) but I cannot stop asking for opinions about Holding Your Kid Back. See, Molly's birthday is one day - one! day! - after the public school cut off date in our district. Which means that if I sent her to preschool next year, TECHNICALLY she'd be in preschool for three years. Which: no.
I know - half of you have fled the blog all "WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT WOMAN AND HER NEED TO PANIC OVER ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING?!" But the other half are with me, right? You are obsessing too, maybe even two or three whole years ahead of time. Perhaps you have also been dreamily looking forward to the day when both of your shorties are in preschool - on the same days, at the same time, be still my heart! - and it suddenly occurs to you that it's not QUITE as neat and planned out as it should be. RIGHT?
Now I hear there's some system in place for contesting the cut off date and getting your kid into kindergarten anyway. Probably something involving stamping your foot really loud, combined with a lot of tests. I am perfectly willing to put my kid through the trauma of sitting there quietly while her mother gets all insistent and demandy. But SHOULD I? This is the question I've posed to friends, family and innocent blog readers. It's a really huge decision, one that will affect her whole life! Will she graduate from high school at age 17 or 18? Will she be the first or last to drive? Will she be older than all the BOYS? (I'm really focusing on the important stuff here, obviously.)
Practically everyone says to hold your kid back. Not necessarily MY kid, but in GENERAL. Socially, behaviorally, developmentally - it's all better if you wait a year. Then you have the people who wonder why you'd want to shove your kid out into the world a year earlier than necessary, and the family member who informed me that I'd be giving her a better chance at "being a leader".
Then I look at MY kid and think: really? My kid is a girl (most people are adamant about holding boys back, but less adamant about girls); she's also the second kid which, in our family's case, means doing absolutely everything your one-year-older brother does. Sure she's not AT Jack's level, but let me tell you: MOLLY is not going to be sobbing on the first day of preschool. Where Jack is hesitant, tentative and shy, Molly is racing towards the new playground toy or the new person. She can be clingy and choosy, but she's game for anything. Jack? You have to give a persuasive speech complete with Power Point to talk him into saying hello.
Besides, my kids are not even sixteen months apart. They have the same friends, play with the same toys, hang out with each other all day long. The only thing Jack does that Molly does not do is preschool*, and we've had plenty of conversations about "When YOU'RE three, YOU can go TOO!" To put two years between them seems... WEIRD.
And then I have my own experience - I'm a July birthday and was one of the youngest in my classes growing up. Obviously I can't say how things might have been different had my parents held me back a year, but I honestly can't think of how this adversely affected me. There are too many factors. Was I super involved in sports and extracurriculars because I was naturally ready to do them, or because my school was small enough to try everything? Did I get good grades because I'm particularly brilliant or because my parents were heavily involved in my schooling and education was important in my family? Did I make friends with older kids despite my age? Or because it just doesn't matter that much? What I CAN say is that by my senior year of high school I was DESPERATE to start my own life at college and totally ready to go, even at seventeen.
But that's me. And my daughter is just two. WHO KNOWS what kind of kid she's going to be? Right now, based on my observations and those of Jack's preschool teacher and my mother and sister (the two best teachers I know), there's no reason to keep her home another year. And that works for me, obvs. I'll be daydreaming about three preschool mornings a week, all to myself.
*Except using the potty, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT'S HOLY, but, uh, yeah, that's another post.