A confession. A sin committed against my youngest. A sin of omission, but nonetheless.
I forgot to register him for Kindergarten.
First of all, You’re welcome.
You may use this for the rest of your kids’ youth as an example of somebody who is even less together than you are. When you leave their cleats at home before the big soccer match, or forget to pack a lunch on the field trip, my name will be raised by way of excuse, a cautionary tale … “At least I didn’t forget to register you for kindergarten, like Laura Diamond did!”
How did this happen?
Is it a pattern of neglect for the second child? One more in a long line of not remembering—what he wore home from the hospital, when he spoke his first word, what he said?
Is it my decreasing capacity to keep all the balls in the air. Is it my Luddite’s failure to utilize my smartphone to keep me on track? Is it that my mind has been on other things? Starting a new job, losing my grandfather, nearly losing my grandmother?
All summer long there were moments I might have realized that I’d forgotten to officially register him, with the requisite doctor’s forms and utility bill and birth certificate. Each time I made excuses, saw an innocent explanation:
Letters sent home from school “To the parents of” his brother Aaron, not both of them. Questions from the Parent Group chair: “Is Emmett coming to school next year? I didn’t see his name on the kindergarten list.” The school directory form, again naming only Aaron. The letter from the school naming Aaron’s teacher, but not Emmett’s.
Nothing gave me pause. I never once thought—why?
My little boy—could he really be ready to merge onto the highway of public education that will take him to 18, to being taller than me, to shaving, to voting and Selective Service, to leaving home? Maybe there is a part of me, unacknowledged and subterranean, that refuses, that defies.
Maybe there is residue from his insistence for the past year that he wants to be home-schooled, and my willingness to toy with the idea of keeping him home instead of putting him in a classroom. It wouldn’t be the first time. When he was three, we enrolled him in pre-school. He balked. He panicked. He didn’t want me to leave. We pulled him, and I relished the extra time with my little sidekick. We tooled around town like middle-schoolers let off the bus, nowhere we had to be. We hung out at the car wash, watching soapy water engulf car after car; we gaped at the fish tank at the pharmacy; we made crayon masterpieces. Many days we played all day at home in pajamas, piles of books and toys around us. I could bear this lack of purpose, the sense of stillness, because I knew the end of all that would come soon.
Still, it’s not like I meant not to sign him up for kindergarten.
So, when did it finally dawn on me that I’d forgotten?
Two nights ago, chatting with the lovely woman who will be Aaron’s 4th grade teacher, I mentioned that I didn’t yet know whose class Emmett was in. This prompted her to tell me a story about a woman who forgot to register her younger son for kindergarten when his turn came around.
The penny dropped. My mouth opened. “Oh my god,” I said.
Her eyes widened and she stifled a laugh. She told me not to worry; I would still be able to register him for school on the first day. And I’m pretty sure she won’t ask me to be Room Mom, so that’s a plus.
So…I’m back on track. I picked up the school paperwork this morning, I brought the medical forms to the doctor’s office. All is well. Everything will be settled come Monday. Emmett will be in kindergarten. And I will be…I will be . . . oh my.
I will be…a mess. I’m not even going to think about it.