That first day of school is a photographic moment.
I am a bit nervous about what I may capture on camera.
See, the first day for a kindergarten student can cause something known as separation anxiety. It's that thing that makes 5-year-olds cry, cling and coerce their parents into staying with them one more minute.
JV Family photo by BUFFIE BOYER
The Goodling family pictured, from left, Lydia, Tabitha, Lily, Hope, Jeremy and Melinda.
JV Family by BUFFIE BOYER
Lily Goodling, right, gives her sister, Hope, a push in the family’s toy car. The girls and their triplet sister, Melinda, will attend Kindergarten this fall.
JV Family by BUFFIE BOYER
Melinda Goodling swings at the family’s home in Juniata County.
What about separation anxiety for mama? What if mom wants to cry, cling and coerce the child into letting her say good-bye with one more butterfly kiss and a rub of the noses ... just one more time? (This will probably get her kicked out by the kindergarten teacher.)
This will be me later this month. I am sending my last child to kindergarten. My baby. I am also sending her sisters with her. My babies. Plural.
I have triplets.
The soon-to-be 6-year-old daughters do everything together. They shared my womb for 34 and one half weeks. They share beds. They share birthdays. And now they will share a classroom.
My babies are leaving me.
I have been reading those lovely parenting magazine articles about separation anxiety - for moms. And one thing they all tell you is not to let it be noticeable to your child(ren). All I can say is I am glad they haven't learned to read yet because this article sure shows my anxiety.
Besides the sadness of what it takes to let them go, there is the other sadness that goes with back to school.
It's the sad face on my wallet.
There is the need for three lunchboxes, three backpacks, three sets of pencils, erasers, crayons and all of that good stuff. There is the need for clothing. Three new pairs of school shoes. Three haircuts for the new year. Three this. Three that.
I should be used to buying everything in threes. Initially, we had three baby swings, three cribs, three bouncy seats, three car seats, three high chairs and eventually three walkers, three potty chairs, and so on and so on. I have various posed photos of them in all of the above. (You take three times more photos, too!)
This is what happens with triplets or any other big family. I know there are those sending more than four children to school, but how many are sending three kindergarten students? Three the exact same age?
It's a whole different scenario having children born the same time going through the same phases. They respond to things like learning to walk and potty training in a way that is different than their sisters. And they are doing it all at the same time.
Here's an example. My oldest triplet (by one whole minute) has been first to do everything but potty train. She just took her time and came in second place. The youngest of the trio (and the smallest) was potty trained before her second birthday. Our middle triplet (and blond) was the last to do everything. However, last summer when her 4-year-old sisters freaked out at swimming lessons, she hopped right in and learned the techniques even though the water reached her neck.
I have anxiety of the unknown. One of them might cry. One of them might miss me, right? One of them will probably walk in the school like she owns the place. However, just when I think the brave one is super strong, she sees a big dog and screams like it's a bear on its hind legs coming at her.
So I am anxious.
When we walk into that classroom the first day, what will happen? Will someone cry? Will I hold back my tears? Or will it be like no big deal for all of us as I snap pictures and make them pose in various trio poses? ( I am notorious for that by now!)
I didn't mention I have an older daughter who is 8 years old and is entering third grade. She is the expert, and her classroom happens to be right next door to the triplets this year. Does that make me feel a little bit better? Eh, maybe. I went through all of this with her three years ago. I took her little hand and led her to her classroom. I put on a fake "Isn't this so much fun?" smile. I took her photo. I gave her a kiss, I walked out the door and waved excitedly. Then I got in the van and cried. She was my oldest baby. My first born. How could I part with her? She was the big helper who held baby bottles at 2 1/2 years old to feed her tiny premature sisters. How was I going to make it?
(Big dramatic sigh.)
I made it.
Now I send her out the door and I sometimes forget that good-bye kiss.
There are many moms who can't wait to send their kids to school. Granted, I have my moments; let me be truthful. To this day I have moments where I want to put them in a basket in front of someone's door. I don't do it because - 1.) It's ridiculous and 2.) All three just will not fit into one of those baskets with the nice lids.
I don't know what will happen that day.
I know one thing. I have some cute ideas for those trio poses. Maybe we'll incorporate a basket ...
Tabitha Goodling is a freelance writer from Juniata County. She and her husband, Jeremy, have been married 11 years and share four daughters: Lydia, 8, and triplets, Hope, Melinda and Lily, 5 1/2.