Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Say it ain't so

A procrastinator I am not. Given a list of things to do, I start with the task I deem the least desirable and go from there. I'd rather disinfect the toilet before I dust the living room, and change bedsheets prior to putting away laundry. Free yourself of the worst first. This is how I work.

A blocker, however, I am. Given a situation or event I'm not looking forward to, I can virtually convince myself it's not on the horizon. Through denial I can nearly erase a looming date from all thought.

I'm the only woman I know who would choose a trip to the gynecologist over a dentist appointment. As such, I spent years refusing the appointment reminder card issued by the dentist's receptionist, opting to be reminded of my next appointment only the day before it was scheduled when she'd call to say "We'll see you tomorrow at 2 p.m." This gave me only 24 hours to dread the visit, versus the six months it would glare back at me in black ink on the calendar.

My latest venture in blocking out the unanticipated has been kindergarten. Or, rather, Alena's initiation into actual school. I'd actually been doing a great job of not even letting it enter my mind.

Two years of preschool made kindergarten seem decades off. "She's got another year of preschool ahead of her," I told myself after she completed the three-year-old class.

After the end of that four-year-old class, summer made kindergarten seem years off. Three months can sometimes seem like a long time in our world. Thing is, though, January, February and March seem a lot longer in our lives than do three months filled with sunshiny days and trips to the zoo.

August made kindergarten seem months off. And then the letter came.

Mrs. Bonner.

School supplies.

Bus schedule.

Doctor form.

August 26.

Okay, there's still room for denial here, I told myself. The 26th isn't until the end of the month. Then a quick look at the calendar, and a count of the weeks remaining. That's when reality hit.

Alena is going to kindergarten.

My baby. My little peanut who screamed incessantly in her infant car seat. My guinea pig in learning to spoon feed an infant. My first potty training success story. My first taste of what it feels like to send a child to preschool.

No, not my baby.

The thing about blocking out the unwanted is that you always reach the point where the dreaded end can't be ignored any more. The receptionist's reminder call. The kindergarten teacher's parent letter.

Alena is going to kindergarten.

Maybe if I type it a few hundred more times it'll make it all better. Make me less psychotic about putting her on a bus and waving goodbye. Make me less teary when I think about said bus. Make me less worried about the greater role the outside world will play in her life. Make me less concerned about her being sheltered from the unsavory. Make me less sad to think about how much I'll miss her.

The only bit of digging my heels in and refusing to admit that she's going I have left is the actual purchase of school supplies. Somehow not having them yet helps make it still seem a ways off. I'm not sure what I'll have left after visiting Target's crayon and marker aisle.

Maybe, I'll work on pretending next. Pretending I'm happy as I take those first day of school pictures. Pretending I believe she's big enough to hop up those bus steps. Pretending I'm thrilled that Mrs. Bonner gets her Monday through Friday mornings. Pretending it will all be okay when she looks at me with those unsure eyes. It will be, right?

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