“I’m FIVE!” paired with a hand held up to show five little fingers is Calvin’s latest greeting to most people, even the people whom he has already told many times that he is now 5 since his birthday a month ago. (For the month leading up to his birthday, his standard greeting was “It’s almost my birthday! I’m gonna be 5!”) And, yep, though I can hardly wrap my head around it, Calvin is five years old! Or, as my brother Alex said to Calvin, “You’re one whole hand!”
We celebrated his big 5th birthday with a trip to a science museum (like we do). Granny and Danpa came to town and we all went to Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh – a super fun place with lots of different kinds of play spaces for kids to explore. We had donuts covered in dinosaurs for birthday breakfast and cupcakes covered in dinosaurs after dinner. And the birthday boy opened gifts of board games and trains and dinosaur shirts.
5 feels like a big milestone! A five-year-old kid is a Big Kid! A toddler no longer. Not even a preschooler. 5 is big. And Calvin is super proud of that fact. I’m proud of him too! He has always been tiny for his age but capable for his size. And these days this tiny-big 5-year-old boy is dressing himself, pottying and washing up by himself, helping with chores (well… sorta), and going in and out of the house to play with the kids next door like a big kid!! I mean, I know none of these are shocking accomplishments for a kid his age, but he’s my first baby and all these milestones for him are firsts for me. Sometimes I am bewildered by how independent he is, although I shouldn’t be surprised since his dad and I are constantly pushing him to do things for himself and to be helpful. It’s just bewildering watching a kid grow up, isn’t it??? And bittersweet. And also TERRIFYING. But most of all, it’s just beautiful and awesome to see the kid he’s growing into. He’s pretty great.
There’s always things to worry about. His size… his speech… all the “risk factors” associated with his syndrome, 22q DS… whether he did a decent job of wiping his own tushie… But seriously he’s awesome. And he’s made such great progress! It took him forever to really reach the pedals on his little Radio Flyer trike, but now he rides around the cul de sac with the neighbor girls. And his speech has really come a long way. The people who are around him a lot, like his teachers and therapists, can understand almost everything he says, and other people who know him can understand him some of the time, sometimes with the help of hand gestures. We are finally hearing him produce sounds that he has been working so hard on in speech therapy for the past three years.
James and I recently had a parent-teacher conference with Calvin’s pre-K teacher, Miss Dana. And I was truly surprised to hear her say how well she thinks he’s doing with his academic skills. I was also surprised to hear that he has a hard time sitting still on the rug and that he’s super social with his classmates! While it’s not great that he’s the wiggly kid on the rug, it is great to hear that he’s friendly with his classmates because I always worried that his speech differences would keep him from making friends.
When we went to the conference with Miss Dana, James and I were fully prepared to talk about whether it would be best to see if Calvin could do another year in pre-K to give him time to develop his speech and everything else before Kindergarten. The truth is, we had been considering the idea of delaying Calvin from starting Kindergarten ever since he first started 3-year-old preschool in California. We just expected him to need another year.
But Miss Dana feels confident that Calvin’s ready for Kindergarten! She assured me that his skills with counting and number and letter recognition and letter sounds and everything else they work on in pre-K, are all fine for beginning K. She did say that he will need a teacher who will help him focus because apparently he’s the wiggly kid, but she feels like he is ready to move on.
I kind of can’t believe it, and I kind of still feel worried about it… but I think what it really comes down to is that I’m not ready for Calvin to start Kindergarten! (Insert ugly-crying emojis x3!)
But I don’t want to let my mama-worrying hold him back if he’s ready. After all, aren’t I always saying how capable and independent he is? How he holds his own? I’m really telling those things to myself: things he shows me every day, yet it’s still hard to believe. He’s ready! He’s a big five-year-old boy, one whole hand, and he’s ready for Kindergarten.
And anyway, we’ve got the summer to practice those pre-K skills and for me to adjust to this new reality of Calvin going to Kindergarten 🙂