Lucy starts kindergarten the week of August 1st. That means it’s officially less than four months away. That also means I only have 3 more daycare payments left, and OMG, it’s going to be like I got a huge raise as of August.
We’ve been talking a lot about kindergarten at home, and she’s very excited to go to “big school” with Catie. Although funny thing I realized: the girls will only be at the same school for 2 years. Catie will be in 4th grade while Lucy is in kindergarten, and the following year when Catie is in 5th grade and Lucy is in 1st. After that, Catie will be off to middle school. By the time Lucy goes to middle school, Catie will be starting high school. And by the time Lucy goes to high school, Catie will be in college. So, that’s it. Two years is all I get, and then I’ll have to start doing a lot more juggling. Middle and high schools start and end their days at different times than elementary, it’s going to be a lot to manage. I’m already overwhelmed just thinking about it.
It’s funny that as much as Catie complains about Lucy – which I think is part of the job description of big sisters, to complain about their little sisters – she’s actually very protective of her. She’s talked with Lucy about how next year, when they ride the bus home after school, Lucy can sit with her and Catie will make sure she’s ok. Those moments may be few and far between, but they’re very sweet when they happen.
But while Lucy is this hilarious little goofball and a non-stop chatterbox at home, she’s a completely different child with the rest of the world. She gets incredibly shy and quiet when she’s around people she doesn’t know. When other adults speak to her (like if the checkout lady at the store offers her a sticker), she won’t answer, she just buries her face in my shirt and tries to hide. If Catie is there, she’ll answer for her, but I often find myself apologizing for her, so people don’t think she’s being rude. “Sorry, she’s a little shy today.” This morning, she saw a new doctor (a specialist for some of her GI issues), and she wouldn’t answer any of his questions. She’d nod yes or shake her head no, but she never spoke.
Last weekend, I took her to a friend’s birthday party, and she spent most of the party on my lap with her face buried in my chest. She eventually got up and went to play, but it was toward the end of the party. Afterward, I asked her why she was so shy when most of the kids there were her friends, and she said, “But I’d never been to their house before!” So, new environments throw her off.
Even at daycare, where she’s been going since she was 2 months old, it took several weeks after she moved up to the Pre-K class for her to adjust and get used to the new teacher. She (the teacher) told me later she was worried that Lucy might have some sort of speech delay, because she never talked. “But now she talks my ear off all day, so I know she’s fine!” And while it’s reassuring to know that she’s doing well in her class now, it’s still a little disconcerting that her teacher would think there might have been something wrong with her.
So, in light of all that, I’m a little worried about my baby girl starting kindergarten. It’s a big change going from a daycare class of about 6 to 8 kids to a classroom of 20+ students. She’ll be shy with the other students at first, but especially with the teacher. Before the first day of school, there will be a kindergarten orientation where we meet her teacher, and she can check out her new classroom and get a little more familiar with her new surroundings, but I think it’s probably going to take a while for her to settle in.
My mom called me out of the blue the other day, and said, “Oh my god, it just occurred to me: what are you going to do about Lucy’s lunch when she starts kindergarten? She won’t speak to the lunch lady to tell her what she wants!” Catie buys her lunch at school, but I was already planning to pack Lucy’s lunch for her, since she’s lactose intolerant and I don’t want to risk her eating something with milk or cheese in it. The other motivation for packing Lucy’s lunch – to keep her from needing to talk to strangers – hadn’t occurred to me, but I guess it’s an equally valid reason.
I don’t know if this is a phase or just who she is. Maybe she’ll always be shy around new people and in new situations. And that’s ok, we can adapt to it and help ease her along. But I hope that someday, everyone else gets to see the Lucy that I know.
Because that kid is pretty fantastic.