By: Carolina Pichardo
With her daughter off to middle-school, this young mom reflects on what’s she learned about parenting these first impressionable years.
It just hit me like a ton of bricks this morning: today is my daughter’s last day as an elementary school student. Next school-year, she’ll be going on to middle school and growing much quicker than I think I can take.
I still remember her first day of kindergarten, with her little bubbly cheeks and eyes so full of curiosity. You could just see the experiences pop before them. Her curly hair was really short then too, but that morning I managed to grab two little pigtails in the front.
It was a beautiful, New York City September morning; the kind that signaled the first day of school was here. As we walked out our apartment building, she held on tight to the straps of the pink Dora backpack she’d picked out. This was at the peak of her Dora obsession years. Inside it, she probably had only a little box of crayons, her first of many black and white notebooks, and a pencil or two. I don’t remember what exactly, but I do recall her obsessing over it days before.
We’d been practicing writing her name, talked about what new things she might learn, and of course, her dreaming about the many playdates she’ll be having. “And can they come here, Mami?” “What if they don’t like me?” she asked, coloring away, not bothering to look up to see what I’d say. “Do you know my teacher?”
Although it feels like only days have passed, that was several years ago, and I’ve learned a lot since then about parenting an elementary school child.
Never underestimate the power of what you know.
It took a while for me to realize this, especially as young mom. I read many, many books, blogs, magazines that all offered great suggestions, but at the end of the day, what matters what I feel is right for my child. Don’t be afraid to continue the growing and unraveling who you are as a person. Your child would be the better person for it.
We all want the same thing as parents.
Don’t let age, race, class or money fool you. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing for our kids—for them to be happy, joyful and balanced adults. Don’t let others shame you into believing you can’t accomplish this for your family, because as parents it’s your right.
You’ll embarrass them regardless.
Yes, you just have to accept it. The embarrassing phase, for us, started in the third grade. She apparently didn’t like how loud I laughed. A few lower decibels later, when I’d managed to control my loud chuckles, it was how I would kiss her goodbye. There was always something. Good news is, they still love you, and will show it when you least expect it.
You’re setting the groundwork for what’s really to come.
You’ll have the sex discussions, boyfriend discussions, and the drug discussions… You’ll even have the “What’s a virginity?” and “When can I wear makeup?” discussions. What’s “Summer Camp” you asked? Yes, you might have that one also.
It goes by VERY fast.
I know you’ve read this before, but it is so true. One minute you’re changing diapers and not sleeping for several nights in a row, the next thing you know, you’re arguing with your pre-teen over their messy bedroom and horrible attitudes. Hey, I’m not going to romanticize it for you.
So enjoy them while they’re in those crucial first years, and answer those questions, because you won’t have those crisp, September back-to-school mornings like that again.
Young Urban Moms’ co-founder, Carolina Pichardo, is a digital marketer by day, writer and community activist by night, and mom to Lulu always. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @c_pichardo.