When it was finally time for my husband and I to try to conceive our first child, I didn’t give a second thought to when the baby would be born. I just knew I was 34, newly married and anxious about whether we’d have trouble conceiving. And that is how I ended up with a December baby.
December is not an ideal time to have a child. Winter birthday parties are challenging, the holiday season is busy, and showering a child with endless presents in one month leads to unrealistic expectations. But those are just inconveniences. The real issue is that a December baby starts school as the littlest among the little kids in the room and will forever be the youngest in her class.
My daughter Violet is starting school this September. She’ll be in an all-day split junior/senior kindergarten class where some kids will be closing in on six years old when she’s still not quite four. That difference feels enormous to me.
Read more: Are split grades really so bad?>
Academically, I think she’s going to be OK. Her daycare providers have always marveled at her ability to remember things they taught weeks earlier. She can recognize and write her name (usually in the proper direction, although occasionally backwards) and her verbal skills are strong. (“Mommy, why was that lady speaking so sternly?”) She’s a classic kid sponge, hungry for information, so I’m excited about all the things she’ll be learning.
But I am worried about her overall wellbeing. Will she be able to hold her own among the bigger, stronger kids? How will she handle conflicts? Is she going to be a beast by dinnertime without a nap?
Although very social and outgoing, Violet can sometimes get overwhelmed in big groups of kids, often preferring to stand back and observe for a good long time before diving in to take part. Will a classroom with close to 30 students allow her the space to find her comfort zone? Will the teacher have the time to give her attention first thing in the morning to help ease her into the day?
And then there’s the food issue. How will a kid who has had every snack and meal catered by a family member or daycare provider suddenly deal with her very own lunch? Will she be able to open the containers? Will she even touch the healthy stuff or just gobble up the cheese and crackers? (This from a mom who used to eat her recess treat on the way to school every day, creating a hard-to-break lifetime habit of having sweets in the morning.)
Maybe the more experienced parents out there are reading this and chuckling, clearly seeing that it’s not Violet who will struggle with this new phase, but her nervous mom. I just want her to be happy and feel secure. Too much to ask?
Oh, and I didn’t give much thought to birthdate for my second child either, so check back in with me when my January baby, June, is bored spending a whole extra year in daycare.
Acting managing editor, Tammy Sutherland, does her best to juggle family and work. Sometimes she gets it right. (But mostly she just gets by.) Read about life in a family of four where Daddy is seriously outnumbered. (Even the cat is a girl.) Follow her on Twitter @TSutherland75.