It’s been a full week now since Love Bug started kindergarten. The top photo truly captures the excitement and joy that filled her first day. She was bouncing with eager anticipation from the moment her eyes opened. She chattered all throughout breakfast and was so happy to put on her new shoes for this day of days. And her backpack! By her reaction, I’m led to believe it is the best purchase I’ve made as her mother.
I have to admit, I’ve felt all sorts of lost since the kindergarten meeting last spring. I chalk it up to a number of different things:
-Bug is our first child to enter a school system. We’re newbies and slightly clueless.
-Neither MJ or I were schooled in a large school system. Our district has five elementary school, four of which are close enough for us to attend. Choices, choices, choices.
-Neither MJ or I attended school in this system, in this town or in this state.
-There are so many forms! With my phobia and severe handicap at filling out forms, it’s been a challenge. I promise. It’s a thing.
We settled on open enrollment for a school whose neighborhood we hope to end up in someday. The (older) children of our friends went through the system and seem to be well-adjusted, amiable people. :) For Bug, we decided on half-day kindergarten with three days of extra activities that make it a full day – so three longs days and two short days a week. We are still getting used to the school schedule and the subsequent schedule of things at home. ‘Homework’ and tiredness has changed the way things happen in our home.
Deciding on a school schedule (half vs full day, extra activities, number of days, etc) was an anxiety producing process for me. I have a bit of that home-schooling, off-the-beaten-path, bohemian, let’s-build-ourselves-a-homestead-out-in-the-woods-and-live-off-our-garden-and-free-range-chickens side to me. The two sides warred all summer long. But in the end, I trusted myself and chose what we thought was best for Bug and our family. I’ve wavered back and forth, wondering if I did the right thing, chose correctly and a week in, I’m feeling good.
MJ took the morning off so we could both be there for her first day. We took pictures outside and then we hopped in the car together for the drive. While Bug couldn’t contain her glee, I didn’t feel like talking. Or listening. Or smiling. The parking lot was a zoo and with the school sign-in policies, only I walked her to her room. We had visited her classroom the week before so we knew right where her locker and seat were located. The teacher was out greeting the bus riders so I waited with her. She giddy, me glum. I wanted to grab her and her backpack and make a break for it. I wanted to stuff her back in our car and drag her back in our house and declare that she was never allowed to leave again. I wanted to shake her by her shoulders and try to make her understand that this, this day, this step, is a big one. One that is a tipping point. From this day forward, life will be different and will continue on until she is gone from our home. I wanted to hold her like the baby she once was. But she was far too excited for that. I kept my thoughts to myself, unwilling to ruin her joy.
When the teacher arrived, she bounded away with her classmates but then turned around, seeking me for one last hug and kiss. And then, I left her there, in that big school, and walked out empty handed, feeling empty inside. I didn’t cry until I talked with my mom later in the day.
Growing up is a part of life. I know this. But every once in a while, I forget. Some days as so long that I’m sure they will last forever. I convince myself that J’s legs and belly will always stay soft and round. I’m sure that if I don’t encourage Bug to wiggle her loose teeth, they will just stay there. No big adult chompers for her. But that is not the case. All I can do to be there for them, be involved, be present, love the heck out of them, laugh a lot and be so filled with gratitude for our lives that the sting of their gradual departure is lessened, infinitesimally. There is good and bad, up and down, happy and sad. We are choosing to appreciate life for everything it is. Because, after all, life (and kindergarten) is an adventure and we are going to love it all.