Ready for kindergarten

My daughter’s first day of kindergarten is today.  She is excited.  Last night she laid out her new dress from her Mimi, her new backpack from Grandma and her favorite hair bow on the guest bed.  She is determined to be ready today.  When we read The Night before Kindergarten last night, she insisted she could not read as she told us all about the words on each page, and then she proclaimed that she was really big and really ready to go to big girl school.

I am so proud of her, and I know that she is ready to go to school.  I am not sure if I am ready for her to go.  I am still trying to figure out how she has gotten so big, so independent, so confident and so much herself in these five years.  I remember taking her to library playdates where my leg was crushed in tiny toddler deathgrip, I remember going to birthday parties where the parachute play was too much.  At the same time, I remember the continuous stream of questions, “What that, how come, Daddy why?” and insatiable curiousity.  I have several thousand pages of pictures saved in a laundry bag downstairs, her family drawn as bunnies, people, puppies, and ducks (I look very good as a duck).  So she is ready, although I have a hard time believing she is.

Friday was orientation, there are thirty three kids in her cohort split into two rooms.  The teacher seemed very nice and very together, and the school was decked out in Seuss.   Saturday was the information fair day, and as my kids ate cupcakes, I talked to the principal.  She said that this year was an odd year, as there are only two classrooms while the last five years had three classes of kindergarteners.  Some of the shift could be explained by a redrawing of the feeder pattern, but she did not know where the other three quarters of a class had gone.

My daughter and her classmates were born between the summer of 2008 and the summer of 2009, so these kids were conceived  between late 2007 to fall 2008.  These kids are the first cohort of recession babies.  They were conceived at the drop. 

Kids are expensive, and for the most part, timing can be manipulated for better times or better opportunities.  Birthrates dropped dramatically among the cohorts of women who make up the moms of my daughter’s classmates. 

I am not a demographer, but I wonder what the impact on the lives of my daughter’s cohort as it is significantly smaller than the cohorts that surround it in age.  My son’s cohort is a bit larger than my daughter, and the cohorts of current third and fourth graders are a bit larger.  I wonder how the smaller cohort will matter for public finance as they will be a short window of lower educational spending, a short window of fewer knuckleheads entering prime knucklehead zone, and a short window of a tight entry level job market. 

Oh well, she is ready for kindergarten, and I’ll worry about all this other stuff after she shows me a picture she drew during her first day in big girl school. 



65 replies
  1. 1
    HinTN says:

    Thank FSM for the world beyond the headlines. The wheel will turn faster every day. Good luck! :^)

  2. 2

    There must be a dust-storm here in my cubicle because for some reason I’m tearing up.

    Best wishes for the Big Girl. And her daddy.

  3. 3
    Elizabelle says:

    First day of kindergarten is such a sweet moment.

    Congrats to you and your big enough girl.

  4. 4
    Violet says:

    Aww. Such a big day. Enjoy.

  5. 5
    Gene108 says:

    I do not know how they do it, but both my nephew and niece went from being able to recognize words to actually reading on their own as they went through kindergarten.

    Amazing transformation to watch.

  6. 6
    Bostondreams says:

    Beautiful. Mine just started First Grade (after having to go to summer school to ensure she passed Kindergarten. Ugh. Testing. Summer School for Kindergarten.). They get so big so fast.

  7. 7
    raven says:

    We’ve lived 2 block from the elementary school and we have walked past it every morning on the way back from our coffee/dog hike. The kids that were in kindergarten that first year, 15 years ago, are gone to college now .We’re lucky that we live in a place where the kids and parents walk to school and the two months of summer when they are gone is a bummer. Neither of us have had kids so maybe this is even more special to us.

  8. 8
    Crashman06 says:

    My son is moving up to the toddler room at his daycare next week. “They grow up so fast” is such a trite saying, but damn if it doesn’t seem true in some profound way at times. The other day, I was looking at the hat we brought him home from the hospital in, and wondering how he was ever small enough to fit in it.

  9. 9
    low-tech cyclist says:

    My son started second grade last week. This is an amazing time in their lives, isn’t it? We took advantage of yesterday’s cool weather here in the mid-Atlantic to go bike riding together. We did a loop that we’d done once before, a year ago. It was a challenge for him then, but yesterday it was right in his wheelhouse.

    So much fun to see them grow and become more capable in so many different ways.

  10. 10
    Richard Mayhew says:

    @Crashman06: We spent a good chunk of the weekend cleaning the basement and getting rid of clothes that our 2 year old son inherited from his big sister, and we don’t remember either of them ever being small enough to fit into any of the them.

    Last week, we had some friends over for taco night. They have a five month old, and the wonder in her eyes as she got to see the REALLY BIG KIDS go gaga over her was fun, but again, I barely remember my two ever being that small.

  11. 11
    jayackroyd says:

    Richard Easterlin wrote a book called Birth and Fortune about the impact of cohort size.

  12. 12
  13. 13
    amy c says:

    My youngest is startling Kindergarten this week as well. We haven’t seen the same enrollment impact in our school district. This year is as large of a Kindergarten class as they’ve ever had, they tell us. That said, it’s one of the wealthier districts in my area; most of my immediate neighbors have been insulated from the recession. I’d be curious to see the numbers across my state, which overall has been hit really hard by the economic nightmare.

    Personally, I’m always thrilled to see my children go off to school. It is the usual parental thing to be sad about these transitions, but I’m missing that gene. I love seeing them get older, smarter, and more independent. I don’t miss toddlerhood for a moment.

  14. 14
    JPL says:

    @Richard Mayhew: Somehow I think your mind is going to wander all day. Congrats dad for preparing your daughter for the big day.

  15. 15
    pamelabrown53 says:

    @Richard Mayhew:

    Enjoy this special day…and don’t forget to document it.

  16. 16
    big ole hound says:

    My kids are long gone but neighbor’s kids living on the same street for 17 years and watching them go from strollers to graduation parties has been fun. It seems familiarity breeds safety within our little neighborhood which has seen little turnover and the kids wave even if it’s not cool not a single crime…yet.

  17. 17
    the Conster says:

    My daughters’ cohort is up to their eyeballs in college and grad school debt, and can’t afford to take any time off from their jobs to have a child, and can’t afford day care on their meager salaries. Of all the women my daughters went to high school with, only one has children, and they’re all in their late 20s/early 30s. One of my daughters is a teacher and her husband is a teacher and they’re just closing on their first house today, so I will not get to be a grammy for them, and my other daughter and her husband are also new homeowners and are working like slaves – fairly well paid, but wage slaves none the less. I’m of two minds about bringing a child into this world, but when I see all of the cute little clothes and stuff I’ll probably never buy, I haz a sad. Enjoy every moment because it’s shocking how fast it went.

  18. 18
    Evap says:

    My youngest just started her last year of college. They really do grow fast!

    Enjoy these precious days, Richard.

  19. 19
    dmsilev says:

    My niece and nephew start preschool in a week or two. This will be a great relief for all concerned; keeping up with twins is a hell of a job.

  20. 20
    some guy says:

    congratulations, Richard. Our 1st and 2nd grade began the second week of school today. the start of the year is always so much fun.

  21. 21
    Lee says:

    Today my youngest is starting high school and my oldest is starting her senior year. Enjoy them. Make every effort to be at every school event. I did made all but a handful and I don’t regret it for a minute.

    I got a bit weepy dropping off the youngest.

  22. 22
    Scout211 says:

    It was hard for me to drop off my youngest at kindergarten. But like you, we had prepared her well to be happy and excited for that day. It went well.

    Now that child has been a kindergarten TEACHER for 10 years!

    Life does go on . . but the wonderful milestones that we experience with our children are to be cherished.

    Thanks for the reminder of one of those cherished moments.

  23. 23
    beth says:

    This was the first year I didn’t have to participate in any of the back to school rituals since my daughter graduated high school last year and is attending community college here and is PERFECTLY FINE DOING IT ALL HERSELF, MOM (largest eye roll ever!!). There’s kind of the same sadness to this too.

  24. 24
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Enjoy it, because it will seem like the day after tomorrow that she’s getting her driver’s license, listening to music you hate and hanging around with boys you don’t approve of. That, too, will pass.

  25. 25
    PurpleGirl says:

    Re: remembering the size of the babies… I’m 5’6″, my mother was 4’11”; so quite a bit shorter than me. When she wanted to make a point about my being her child, she’d say “just remember you once fit inside me.” Or in other words, “behave”.

  26. 26
    Skerry says:

    My baby started her senior year of high school today. I’m misty eyed and probably will be all day.

    Where did the time go?

  27. 27
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Good luck to your daughter on her first day of kindergarten. Another milestone reached. Many more to come.

  28. 28
    chopper says:

    My daughter just started her second kindergarten year, thanks to public school age-based rules. Kinda sucks since she already reads at a 2nd grade level and the teacher is going over the letter ‘A’.

  29. 29
    PurpleGirl says:

    @chopper: By the rules for enrolling children in NYC the year I began kindergarten, I really should have been left out until the following year. The child was supposed to be 5 by the beginning of November, I turned 5 at the end of November. Because there was room in the class, they let me start, they felt it unfair to make me wait for the following year for being 5 like 2 weeks after the the deadline. I was always half a year younger than all my classmates.

  30. 30
    rikyrah says:

    This is so sweet. Enjoy it.

    Peanut began First Grade today.


    I just don’t know where the time went.

  31. 31
    chopper says:


    My daughter was born January 1st, just hours after the NYC deadline. But we’re in ATL now. Luckily her last year in CA was at a private school where they put her in K. I just wish ATL would allow you to move a 5 year old into 1st grade. She’s way bored.

  32. 32
    Culture of Truth says:

    In a few years she’ll be texting her general whereabouts, if you’re lucky.

  33. 33
    trollhattan says:

    Sigh. This will be a year you treasure, always. I say that from the perspective of a dad whose former kindergartener is ready to begin middle school.

    Enjoy every moment.

  34. 34
    Aimai says:

    Daughter starting college thursdsy. Weepy weepy.

  35. 35
    Goblue72 says:

    Congrats! My wife & I are planning to start a family this year, now they we’ve gotten grad school, career launching and house buying out of the way. Yay middle aged child rearing!

    A little freaked by costs of child care. We have really high levels of child care costs in WA state – dont know why. Easily over a grand a month. Don’t know how people do it.

    Guess raising kids is now another thing that the 1% are supremely advantaged over the rest of us.

  36. 36
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    I am so proud of her, and I know that she is ready to go to school. I am not sure if I am ready for her to go. I am still trying to figure out how she has gotten so big, so independent, so confident and so much herself in these five years. I remember taking her to library playdates where my leg was crushed in tiny toddler deathgrip, I remember going to birthday parties where the parachute play was too much. At the same time, I remember the continuous stream of questions, “What that, how come, Daddy why?” and insatiable curiousity. I have several thousand pages of pictures saved in a laundry bag downstairs, her family drawn as bunnies, people, puppies, and ducks (I look very good as a duck). So she is ready, although I have a hard time believing she is.

    If you think today is hard, substitute “ready to go to away to college” for school, and “18” for five years. You’ll never know right now how fast and hard that day arrives. Enjoy each and every frigging nano-second with that precious little girl, because it won’t be long until you’re bawling your eyes out on the three hour trip home from dropping her off at the dorms. :-)

    The very best to you and your family!

  37. 37
    satby says:

    Congrats Richard and his Big Girl! And to all of you parents having milestone moments. My last baby’s first day of kidergarten was 23 years ago, but I remember it all like it happened yesterday. The days are long, but the years go by in a blink.
    And life is so fragile. So treasue these moments, even the aggravating ones that someday you’ll laugh about.

  38. 38
    wenchacha says:

    I wish I could get a do-over, especially with what I learned from my first time through. From time to time, I happen on the journal I kept with my youngest’s Pre-K teacher. He was in an all-day speech program before he would turn 4 that November. First-timer on a bus ride, the works. It jogs my memory of the days he was thrilled with school, and the times he didn’t want to leave my side. He’s 22 now, and recently introduced us to a young woman who may be a longterm partner or even “The One.”

    My heart is full. I may be having a feels attack.

  39. 39
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @Richard Mayhew:

    I barely remember my two ever being that small.

    I can relate to this. I hear people say, “it seems like just yesterday when they were little,” but I’ve experienced just the opposite: my son started kindergarten just two years ago, but even that seems like some dimly remembered past.

    Where we were bike riding at the park yesterday, another family was getting one of those Little Tykes-style plastic trikes, suitable for a child under 2, from their car. And while I intellectually knew he’d ridden very similar trikes once, to me it was as if he’d never been that small. My brain just wasn’t accepting that notion.

  40. 40
    beth says:


    Yay middle aged child rearing!

    Then you will definitely have the joy of experiencing both puberty and menopause at the same time in the same household. My husband used to answer the phone with “hello, hormone hotel”.

  41. 41
    c u n d gulag says:

    Best of luck to her!
    And you, of course.

  42. 42
    c u n d gulag says:

    Best of luck to her!
    And you, of course.

  43. 43
    Mayken says:

    Mine starts next Tuesday. On his 5th birthday (poor September baby.)

    Yikes! How did he get to be 5?!

  44. 44
    Mayken says:

    @chopper: Yeah, ours missed the new cutoff by ONE day. And they are NOT allowing exceptions. He is starting a private K and will go thru at least 1st, possibly 2nd there. Then maybe we’ll go back to public. I really hate grouping kids by age alone. It may work for a large majority but so not for every kid. It creates stigma for those who need to work at a “slower” pace and pain for kids like yours (I was reading in K, too. I was one of the only kids with library permissions because of it.)

  45. 45
    goblue72 says:

    @beth: A-yup. Assuming we aren’t completely bankrupt by then.

  46. 46
    Mayken says:

    @Goblue72: Does WA allow small in-home daycare (as opposed to those big centers)? We found our son’s caregiver to be much less expensive than any of the centers. We did sacrifice a little in flexibility of hours (she was only “open” till 4:30pm but she also started much earlier than most care centers) but we gained soooo much in personal attention and flexibility in other ways (like being able to bring him when he was mildly ill or just getting over something which centers will absolutely NOT do.) She was allowed up to 8 kids but always kept enrollment to max of 6. She’s really been a second mother to our son.
    YMMV of course.

  47. 47
    pacem appellant says:

    Geographic demographics could also be in play. My daughter began kindergarden last week–she’s in the same cohort as your daughter–and her school had to open another kindergarden classroom to handle the influx of students.

  48. 48
    pacem appellant says:

    Also, yeah, scary stuff. My daughter sounds like she is of similar temperament as yours. She is so confident and ready and kindergarden, so much different–and yet still the same–as the little shy girl I shuffled through the library and endless playdates where she wouldn’t leave my side. (‘Scuse me, I need a tissue).

  49. 49
    Goblue72 says:

    @Mayken: WA state does allow for in-home care. In Seattle, that means a more “affordable” price of $1,000/mth instead of $1500.

  50. 50
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    My kid starts his senior year on Tuesday #IAmOld

  51. 51
    YellowJournalism says:

    Thanks for the heads up on The Night Before Kindergarten! My youngest starts next week. (Sob!), and tomorrow we are going to a meet-and-greet with his teacher. She is a wonderful teacher that my oldest also had and remembers my son from when he would walk into the classroom to tell her “hi.”

  52. 52
    LongHairedWeirdo says:

    Oh, cool! I love kindergarten! And remind her of the important Kindergarten safety lessons.

    1) Play nicely, now shoving or tripping or kicking or punching
    2) No running in crowded areas, and give people space when they’re doing something that could hurt them.
    And finally, last but not least,
    3) Once you pull the pin on Mr. Hand Grenade, he is no longer your friend.

  53. 53
    Louise says:

    This post made me misty.

  54. 54
    brendancalling says:

    Wait til she’s 10.

  55. 55
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    @LongHairedWeirdo: Thanks. I just spit-coughed my coffee all over the keyboard. ;-)

  56. 56
    🚸 Martin says:

    I remember my first day of kindergarden. My parents had prepared me well and I was VERY excited and I was all set and excited. The bus pulled up in front of the neighbors house and my reaction was ‘HOLY FUCK YOU ARE NOT GOING TO STICK ME INTO THE GAPING JAW OF THAT GIGANTIC T-REX/CONSTRUCTION VEHICLE LOVE CHILD FROM HELL’ so I grabbed my mom’s hand with all my strength and then realized ‘WAIT, YOU’RE NOT COMING WITH ME INSIDE THAT CHILD MUNCHER!’ so I cried and tried to run away. Mom said she wouldn’t be with me in kindergarden, I didn’t realize that applied to the bus as well. 7 hours later (outside my head time: 90 seconds, tops) they managed to coax me onto the thing I was certain had Auschwitz as its next stop and sent me off. We lived on top of a hill that had two roads up – the slow one that wound past all of the houses and the exciting switchback one with cliffs on both sides. The bus of course took the exciting switchback one at speeds well in excess of what my dad would do in the Dart which only terrified me more.

    Things were much better once I got off the deathmobile. Kindergarden was fun. I was convinced to get back on it only by my teacher who gently reminded me that it was the only way back to mom. Eventually it stopped being terrifying. Some months later the big kids in the back of the bus taught me and the kindergarden boy up the street that ‘motherfucker’ was a very advanced word and that our parents would be proud when we could say it. We proudly dropped that bomb on our moms when they picked us up. The other boy’s mom was extremely religious and nearly dropped dead on the spot. My mom cracked up. I’m sure the sight of a 5 year old dropping ‘motherfucker’ with great pride and speech impediment was something to behold.

  57. 57
    Mnemosyne says:

    I’m a little sad that I don’t have a kindergarten-specific story — my parents sent me to Montessori, which included preschool and kindergarten, so I didn’t really have a big transition. First grade was a bigger deal because all of the kids in my class had been in kindergarten together and I didn’t really know anyone.

  58. 58
    Cermet says:

    I remember my daughters first day in K – I was there and it was very much a big day for her; especially because she got to ride on the bus herself. Now, she is starting her second year at MIT and still wants me there at the start!! Can’t tell you how much fun you have ahead of you and how bitter-sweet the memories become as they succeed in life and become adults – amazing how fast that time passes so both enjoy it and spend as much time as you can at their school sharing the experience!

  59. 59
    Mayken says:

    @Goblue72: Yikes! And I thought SoCal was spendy!

  60. 60
    amy c says:

    @Goblue72: The child care problem is such a huge one, and one we don’t talk about enough.

    With one in daycare, my husband and I were okay. Things were tight, but we made them work. But once we had two kids to enroll in daycare at once? I ended up spending money to work. Seriously. The daycare cost was more than I brought home from my college-degree-required-professional-job. Everyone freaks about the cost of college, which is a legitimate concern…but a year of daycare is significantly more than a year of tuition at my local State U, and mostly I hear crickets on the matter.

    Ultimately, I ducked out of the workforce, because I got tired of paying to work. This was a rational decision at the time, but I’ll be paying a price for it for the rest of my working life – it doesn’t matter where I go or what I do, even if I am able to get back into the professional workforce at some point (and that is an *if,* not a *when*) my salary will never be as high as it would have been if I just stayed working. And my retirement savings reflect that, you know? I’ve got some regret and if I could go back in time, I’d probably stay in the workforce and just swallow the cost of it.

    Most mothers I meet who stay at home tell some variation of this story. Yeah, you’ve got your outliers who think they NEED to be there for Junior’s every funky diaper, and that’s their zone and totally fine. But most of my peers made a practical financial decision. When abandoning jobs becomes the practical financial decision for average people, then you know the whole system has really effed with working families.

  61. 61
    Richard Mayhew says:

    @amy c: Yep, my wife and I had that discussion half a dozen times over the past three years. Once daycare, bus pass and work clothes were paid for, I was making effectively minimal wage as daycare comes out of my paycheck. We decided that long term (financially and my sanity), working was better than not working, but it came to roughly a flip a coin decision.

  62. 62
    Mayken says:

    @amy c: It effectively effs working moms in the vast majority of cases. Despite the gains women have made it is still almost always the mother that stays home. I don’t know your personal circumstances but I find it interesting that even us progressive women think/write/speak of ourselves working for child care rather than it being a cost to the whole family unit. I personally made way less than my husband so my going part time (I couldn’t possibly quit working for myriad reasons) was the logical choice. I find myself constantly having to correct myself and my husband whenever we get to talking about my salary being less than the cost of child care. This is something that really has to change as well if we are going to get to a better solution.

    We as a family unit have decided it is worth the money WE pay for me to stay sane, keep up skills etc. while we have to suck up the cost of child care these few years. But as with Richard, it’s been a near thing many times.

  63. 63
    jimbo57 says:

    Don’t know how to break this to you, but NEXT WEEK you’re going to be helping pick out her prom dress. I came into my stepdaughter’s life when she was 11, and we just brought her back from a year in France on a university exchange. I swear I don’t know where the time went. Enjoy every moment.

  64. 64
    Linkmeister says:

    I want to see the picture of you as a duck.

  65. 65
    Cervantes says:

    @Cermet: How is the Institute treating her? Any complaints?

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