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Renee Chou: Prepping for the day one little bird flies away ... to kindergarten

Posted January 23, 2019 9:00 p.m. EST

Renee Chou with her daughter Elsa

One of Elsa’s favorite book series is “Amelia Bedelia.” Recently we read “Amelia Bedelia is for the Birds,” which centers around Amelia’s discovery of a robin’s nest. Amelia watched the baby birds hatch, grow, and then fly away.

Her father told Amelia: “When you grow up, you will spread your wings and fly away too. We’ll have an empty nest just like Mr. and Mrs. Robin.” The book then went on to say the mom’s eyes got all watery. Elsa turned to me and asked, “Why is Amelia Bedelia’s mom crying?”

I explained to my four-year-old how one day, when she’s much older, she will leave to go to college and live somewhere else on her own. I told her that her daddy and I will be so happy and proud of her, but we’ll also be a little sad too, because she’ll be all grown up and we’ll miss seeing her every day. Wouldn’t you know it? This mommy’s eyes got a little watery just talking about a milestone way down the road.

Elsa quickly hugs me and says, “No, I want to stay with you and Daddy FOREVER! I want to live in our home with you guys! I will never leave you!”

I laughed, touched that she feels that way now and knowing that won’t be how it works. That is, if my husband and I are doing our jobs well to prepare her to leave our “nest.”

Yes, college is a LONG way off, but kindergarten is coming up this year. KINDERGARTEN!!!!!

I’m really excited for her. I feel she is ready academically and socially. Her energy level, curiosity and desire to learn are strong. Elsa once told me the one thing she did not like about preschool is naptime! When I told her there are no naps in kindergarten, she was even more excited about starting a new school.

What would be the best school for her? We’re in that process of figuring it out.

My husband and I are both products of public schools, so we are big believers in public education. We attended the Wake County Schools Magnet Fair and were astounded by the varying options for schools these days. Should we apply to a magnet school that focuses on STEM, language immersion, arts, or computer science?

We’ve toured a couple of magnet schools, a year-round school, and will soon tour our base school. The options have almost a college-admissions feel -- but I don’t want to overthink it or stress about it. In the end, I’m grateful for the array of options. Wherever we end up, I hope it will be a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment; that she has an engaging and motivated teacher; and that she’ll make some wonderful friends.

I feel confident she will thrive in elementary school. My little bird is about to try out her “wings,” and I can’t wait to see her learning take off.

Her first day of kindergarten is just months away. And on that day, I’m pretty sure that like Amelia Bedelia’s mother, my eyes will get more than a little bit watery.

Renee Chou, WRAL-TV morning anchor, is the mother of one. You can find her monthly on Go Ask Mom and all of the time on her Facebook page.