You have been five for a little over a month and once the birthday countdown ended, the first day of kindergarten one began. You counted down the days, crossing them off on your mental calendar until it was the day before. And that was the first time I saw even a touch of hesitancy from you. As you put it “excited, but a little nervous.” Accented with a laugh, an attempt to diffuse your nerves. You picked out your clothes, first your socks, and then your underwear, a favorite dress, hair clips, and your pink boots.
The night before I took some extra time to tuck you in. Extra hugs and extra kisses. I even climbed into the top bunk and snuggled you for a while and long after I thought you were asleep, big questions came quietly from your little mouth. “Will I go everyday?” And I told you that you would go every day that dad went to work. How he would pack you into the car with your backpack and your lunchbox and walk you the last block to school. And the “but I will miss you” that was your answer . It broke me, the brave resolve, because I knew it was true and I knew those feelings were reciprocated. But I also knew that you would be fine and I was right.
When you woke up the next day the hesitancy you’d whispered into the dark was gone. You went quickly through the shower and straight onto banana pancakes. You dressed and brushed your teeth and sat patiently while I braided your hair. Found your backpack and your lunchbox and pulled on your famous pink boots. You waited impatiently to leave and yelled through the bathroom door, urging your dad to shower faster . And graciously let me snap a few photos before we left.
We decided to walk even though it was a warm morning, even for August, because first day of school traffic is just ridiculous. You held your dad’s hand most of the way. You counted each pink fence post at the preschool down the road and picked wishes growing up from the cracks in the sidewalk. You stopped to watch butterflies and smell flowers because there are some things that have never changed about you. Even the electric buzz of something new couldn’t hurry your usual languid pace.
And when we got there the auditorium was buzzing with 100 kindergarten kids being sorted into zig-zagged attempts at single file lines. That day we could walk you to class, so we waited for your teacher to appear and show you the way. She did and she looked excited and so did you and I was miserable. So happy for you, but miserable for me. You picked a hook for your backpack and stopped to give Dad a fist-bump on the way in. You didn’t look back and I didn’t cry. I’m going to count that as a win-win for day one.
Now two weeks in, you’ve got the morning routine down. The 6:15 alarm doesn’t surprise you. Usually you’ve got a good 20 minutes to spare before you have to leave. So far, you aren’t sold on kindergarten. You feel like you aren’t learning because everything has been review but kindergarten is teaching you about more than numbers and letters, it’s teaching you about being part of new community, about team work, honing your social skills. It’s teaching you independence and responsibility. It’s teaching you when to deal with something yourself and when an adult needs to be made privy to the situation.
I know it’s been hard. Some days you are tired and some days there are bullies who cut holes in your favorite dresses but even when I’m not there, we are in this together. I love you so little one, more than your ever expanding brain can even imagine.