Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Beginnings

Well, like so many households all across America, we went back to school. One big addition here: Laura started Kindergarten!!! The girls will be bus riders, but on the first day of school I drive, so I parked in an overflowing parking lot, walked two girls up to school--one becoming more anxious with each step and one laid back and cool as a cucumber. You might think the kindergartner would be the nervous nelly, but you would be wrong, my friends. That was my fourth grader. She asked me questions rapid-fire:

Mom, what if I have to blow my nose? I don't know if my teacher will let me get up to get a tissue...
Mom, what if she moved my desk and I'm not sitting by K.?
Mom, what if she is upset I don't have headphones yet?
Mom, what if my new shoes start giving me blisters and I can't keep up with the line?

and on and on...

Meanwhile, little Lolly just strode along beside me, clasping my hand, observing her new domain.

When Emma was dropped off, she let me give her a big kiss--returned it even--outside the room (joy...when will that change?). I wished her well, reminded her to say a prayer if she got nervous, then watched her move into her next stage in life on her own. I tried to unobtrusively peek through the window, a lump in my throat as I remembered how it wasn't so long ago I was guiding her into kindergarten. I watched her and her little best friend's mutual relief when they locked eyes and began to chat as they took their seats. Then I let her go, as I must. On to kindergarten.

I brought Laura through the door, we put backpack and lunchbox and snack in their proper places, we weaved through the thick maze of teary parents and I led her to her seat. With all the confidence in the world, she plopped into her seat, picked up her crayon, and diligently started to color the paper in front of her. I gave her the best motherly advice I could muster: go to the bathroom when you need to, here's your new friend P. sitting next to you, your teacher loves you and will help you if you need her, listen, obey, say a prayer in your heart if you need to, eat your lunch, and I love you and will be thinking of you all day. "Okay, Mommy, love you, bye," and that was it. I didn't want to be a hoverer or a clingy parent, so I gave her a hug, took a picture, said my I love yous, and began to walk away. I glanced back occasionally as I weaved my way back through teary parents and clingy kids. Laura was coloring away, talking to her new friends, barely a glance in my direction. I took one last peek through the window, and left Laura's days at home behind.

As I'm leaving, the rational side of me is thinking, "This is great, no tears. She's a well-adjusted, confident kid. What could be better? I'm a rational, well-adjusted adult, I don't need my daughter to miss me to feel validated." Then, of course, my emotional side kicks in: "DON'T YOU KNOW WHAT'S HAPPENING??? DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND??? You are leaving me!!! Your little childhood is over! No more pb and j's together, no more cuddling on the couch watching your favorite Noggin show, no more naps together, no more field trips to the library, no more cookie-making or Polly Pockets, it is all over AND FURTHERMORE CAN'T YOU MAKE ME FEEL A LITTLE NEEDED AND AT LEAST CLING TO MY LEG ONCE???"

It's okay. It was quiet at first at home, but then I dug into some projects, changed Jack's poopy diapers, enjoyed the silence (thanks again depeche mode), and got on with the ever-changing face of motherhood.

Did you know I used to teach kindergarten? I did. I remember the first day and all the tears I wiped, hugs I gave, and encouragement I doled out. Occasionally even to the children. I loved my class. And now I must trust their teachers to do the same.

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