The agony and anxiety of parenting decisions: To redshirt or not?

its-also-about-supporting-her-because-no-matter-what-we-are-in-her-cornerIn my day-to-day interactions with colleagues, I feel confident. I don’t know everything, but I do know a thing or 2 about communications and I have assurance in my ability to make decisions and manage projects to completion.
So why is it that I often agonize over decisions about parenting? I second guess myself all the time, and internally (and externally) analyze the pros and cons of every big decision.

This is exactly what happened after a recent email from my daughter’s preschool. The topic? Kindergarten readiness.

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Let me be clear, I’m not the type of mom who will blindly disagree with every bit of feedback about my children. And my 5-year-old daughter does, at times, behave “young” for her age. If I’m being introspective, a lot of that is probably my fault – I consciously wanted her to relish the carefree days before she started school. I’ve maybe done too much for her at times.

So I knew when this email came that it would not be positive feedback about my daughter’s kindergarten readiness. That was confirmed by a brief and frank conversation with the center director who listed a few issues, mostly around temper tantrums and transitions. Also, my girl has never been a fan of circle time, and sitting still for that specific activity has not been her strong suit. There is no disagreement that academically, she is ready for school in the fall. With a birthday in December, she’s old enough too.
16178608_10210166897721686_3764109366547061810_oSo we set a meeting coming up to discuss these issues. I agonized over this meeting for a solid 8 days.

I endlessly discussed it with my partner in life and crime, Dave. After almost 10 years of marriage, he is well versed in my anxieties and sensitivities. He also knows that I have to get it out of my system – if I don’t get it out by talking, it usually comes out anyway, in the worst ways (night terrors, which I still suffer from in adulthood, often pop up during these stressful moments).

I sought advice from other moms, a friend who is a kindergarten teacher and my best girlfriends who don’t have kids. I pored over countless Internet articles about “redshirting” and its benefits and drawbacks. Everyone (and the reputable Internet sources) had good advice. The general consensus? It will work out. And the fact that I’m so worried about it now (when kindergarten is not until next fall) is probably a good thing.

For the most part, the research says that kids who are a bit behind (either in maturity, academic ability, or both) catch up to their peers by 1st grade. And my teacher friend assured me that catching up in terms of maturity is often easier than catching up academically.

So why agonize over this decision? Why write this post? That’s a complicated question to answer, but if I’m being really honest, it hurts me to think that my child is not 100% “up to snuff.” I have always loved that she is a “square peg,” but I know that being extraordinary can sometimes make life challenging. I don’t want her to struggle, or to feel “less than.”

My decision? Redshirting is off the table. I can understand and respect others who choose differently for their child, but I have decided that holding her back will not help her progress. I don’t like the idea of her being a 19 ½ year old senior in high school. I believe she will benefit from being surrounded by peers close to her own age.
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This blog post is the final stage in my around the clock internal debate. I’m ready to let this one go, and I’m going into the meeting in a good place. I appreciate the feedback and any strategies the teachers might offer.

Dave and I know we will have to do our part to help her mature and do more things for herself between now and late August.

Coat zipping is our current project. Have you ever watched a kid try (but not really try) to zip a coat for 5 minutes when you need to be at work promptly at 8 a.m.? Let me tell you, that’s an exercise in letting go.

It’s also about supporting her, because no matter what, we are in her corner. And that means that when she gives her best effort, we eventually do zip that coat and tell her to try harder next time because we know she can, and will, do it.

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