First day of kindergarten physics
For most Ann Arbor 5-year-olds, that makes today the onset of kindergarten. The first day of school, ever. The end of toddlerhood.
Virtually every meaningful experience of their lives has heretofore centered around home. From now on, experience will have two centers, home and school. It's as if their nucleus has been split. That's fission. It unleashes tremendous energy. Plus it creates explosions and mutations.
They probably won't study fission this year, but it's in the curriculum eventually. There's no turning back. They've stepped onto a 13-year escalator ride that passes through Linnaean taxonomy and polynomial equations and ends in goofy clothes and boring speeches.
The thing is, my younger daughter starts kindergarten today, and I'm not feeling all that sentimental. I'm confident she'll do fine. I don't believe a couple hours apart each day will harm either of us. I know great things await her in kindergarten, and I'm glad. I'm content. But I'm not flipping out over the milestone.
It feels weird to take this in stride. Aren't parents supposed to wring hands and lie awake before the day their kids start school? I suspect I'm failing some standard of parental aptitude.
The fact that my older daughter has long since made this transition surely helps. She's facing her own leap this year, from second grade to third, which I'm told is a huge change. In some ways, I feel as though I should be more concerned for her. But again, I'm not. What gives?
I find myself in an odd place of trust. I'm trusting my kids to handle it, to slide right in and make their way. I'm trusting their new teachers to be good to them. And I'm trusting myself and my wife to watch and listen and support and encourage.
From this moment on, both home and school are central to helping my kids grow. Maybe I'm calm because I don't see this as my kids leaving home to embark on a separate enterprise. As of today, they're drawing from two core energies to build themselves into the people they are destined to become. That's nuclear fusion. It unleashes tremendous energy. It's the process that powers stars.