This morning Noel went to our local elementary school and filled out the forms needed to register Cady Gray for kindergarten. Thus ends a year filled with way too much anxiety over this simple transition.
It all began in early '08 when I began to confront the choice between enrolling Cady Gray in the full-time preschool class, or whether we needed to enroll her in a part-time class on the premise that she would be at her preschool for two more years, moving up to the full-time class in her last year. In order to answer that question, I needed to ascertain whether she would be eligible to enter kindergarten according to when her birthdate falls.
Here began the uncertainty. I heard from various friends that the legislature was trying to move the eligibility dates up. At that time the cutoff date was September 1. The proposal was that for fall 2009, the child would have to be 5 years old by August 15; for fall 2010, the birthday would have to take place on or before August 1. Cady Gray's birthday is August 25.
I anxiously monitored the bill, and sighed with relief when the eventual rules passed delayed the implementation by one additional year. Now for 2009, the date stayed the same -- September 1 -- pushed back to August 15 for 2010 and August 1 for 2011. Confidently, I enrolled Cady Gray in the full-time preschool class and made definite plans for her to start kindergarten in fall 2009.
But the anxiety was not over. Oh, no. I heard from well-meaning friends on two separate occasions that we had miscalculated. "She won't be old enough," they told me. "The dates have been pushed back." Each time I became consumed with worry that I had misread the information, or that something had changed. And while I could find evidence that the regulations were the way I thought, it was never absolutely definitive. Few school systems had any information on the birthday deadlines at all, and most of them were old. The state education website was no help. Only in little out-of-the-way places, poorly linked and unobtrusive, were the dates listed.
But every time, after much searching, I found it again. And all was well until a couple of weeks ago. I started to wonder when registration would be held, and once again, the web had no information. One of the teachers at Cady Gray's preschool said it would be sometime in March, but it wasn't until last week that a newspaper advertisement was posted with the schedule.
And this prompted another of the teachers to call me at my office. "Aren't you planning to put Cady Gray in kindergarten in the fall?" she asked. When I confirmed it, she said with concern, "You know she's not going to be old enough, right?"
"Oh yes, she is." I spoke the words carefully, thinking please don't put me through this again. We went through the whole thing with her birthday and with the way the law was passed, and in a couple of minutes the teacher was apologizing to me for reading her information incorrectly. I hung up with my heart pounding.
And so you can imagine my relief when I found out that registration had gone smoothly. Cady Gray will be one of the youngest in her class, which would give most parents pause. But she's been reading fluently for months, demands math tests from her brother, and loves learning and socializing with her classmates. She's so ready for school. And finally I can be sure she's going in August.