It’s Graduation Time: How I’m Coping With My Kid’s Biggest Milestones

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Mi hijo is graduating kindergarten this year, and to be honest, I am a bit surprised by my emotional state. In the past few years I have watched my husband cry as our son graduated from preschool, and again when he graduated pre-K. Me? Not a tear. Not one. But now, as the dates are announced and notes are coming home with kindergarten graduation information, it is hitting me—quite hard. I’m coming to realize that “my baby” is no longer a baby. 

I remember when my son was born. As with many families, all the tios and tias said, “Take it in, time flies.” As I held my newborn baby, it was a bit difficult to grasp what they meant. In the moment, they were a blur of long, late nights and early mornings. As he moves into the first grade, I now understand. It’s important to take it in and experience the little moments as they zoom by.

Like many madres, I’ve had quite the learning curve with this parenting thing. I have learned from seasoned mamas, experienced it side-by-side con mis amigas, and have built up a cache of advice.

Here are four of the best tips I’ve received for coping with, celebrating, and cherishing your kid’s educational milestones:
  1. Talk with your child about this upcoming transition. When my son started school this past fall, he was a bit down that he wasn’t in a class with all the same classmates from the previous year. So now, as we wind down this school year, I have been asking him to share how much fun he’s had this year making new friends, as well as asking him to recall how he still kept in touch with old classmates from last year. We’ve been talking about how next year he will be in a new classroom with a new teacher and a mix of old friends, plus some new faces. Engaging him in an upbeat conversation about the past year and the year ahead gets us both ready for all the cool changes that come with moving into the next grade.
  2. Let the words (and tears) flow. This may be more for you than for your child, but if talking the ear off a fellow mama is what you need, then get it out. It is perfectly natural for us to mourn a little when our kids grow; we’re only human, after all. So talk, cry it out with your girlfriends or your child’s teachers…whatever helps you come to terms with this next big step. 
  3. Use creative outlets. As summer approaches, spend this time with your hijo or hija and let your creative juices flow. Together, draw pictures or make up stories about the adventures ahead for your child. What floor will their new classroom be on? What will he or she learn next year?  This will not only help your child but will also help you as you play a big part in supporting their next step. Last summer we read Planet Kindergarten, a book my son’s teacher gave him as a graduation present. It quickly became last summer’s favorite bedtime read.
  4. Savor the moment. Last year when my son graduated from preschool, I took the day off of work and went to a school picnic, which was fun, but a bit overwhelming. My kid was all over the place, and I ended up putting him in a few time-outs as I had romanticized what his last day of school was supposed look like. Honestly, the pressure overwhelmed both of us. This year we plan to skip any big parties (unless my son specifically asks to go), and instead celebrate the moment the way be both would prefer: for him, a Happy Meal at the park, and for me, hanging out with him and my bestie Erica while we sip on some lattes, watch our kids play at the park, and just take it all in.