A School First

My son and I recently shared a “first” on the same day but I’m 100% certain we had two completely different experiences. Lest I let more time pass and forget all the minute details, I wanted to write about it (in the form of a letter to him he may one day read) and share it here:

It’s the first day of school. Why am I so nervous? I mean, I know why—I want you to do well, I want you to make friends, and most importantly, I want you to want to go back on Monday—but I wasn’t expecting my own nervousness to be a fifteen out of ten. Last night over dinner, I laid out our plan and everyone’s part in it. Nona is here so even she has a part to play (she’s going to walk over and get you early from your afterschool program). Your dad half-jokingly said he was going to plant her outside the school gate with binoculars so she could report to us a play by play of your day. *Note to self: make sure he does not take it upon himself to do this. Second note to self: hide the binoculars.*

We were all out the front door and at the school’s front gate with time to spare. As the students started arriving by the droves your eyes were WIDE OPEN examining the backpacks, shoes, and water bottles of choice. Thankfully there’s a dress code so hopefully you weren’t feeling any kind of way about your own clothes as you looked almost identical to everyone else. You held my hand tightly the whole time, only letting go to tuck your water bottle into its side backpack pocket. When the gatekeeper came to unlock the gate, you quickly grabbed for my hand again and my heart sank only because I wished I could have been in your head to know what you were thinking at that moment. Were you as nervous for yourself as I was for you? I specifically decided not to ask you this question all morning—if you were feeling nervous–because I didn’t want you to be, nor did I want you to hear my own anxiety in my voice, so I stayed quiet. Fear breeds fear, remember.

The gate opened. We all escorted you to your classroom so you could meet your teacher, then on to the playground where we were instructed to take you until the start of the school day. You chose to hang back with your dad rather than play. Nona and I gave you hugs, kisses, and good wishes before we left; I didn’t want all three of us staying the whole time, even though we were allowed, to avoid a possible last-minute melt down. You don’t usually have these unless you’re overly tired, but better to expect the best and be prepared for the worst. I went to work and took an emergency Ativan to help calm myself. I know you usually have no problem in foreign situations but still, this “foreign situation” included 19 fellow classmates you did not know and a teacher who is only allowed to speak Spanish to you. After what seemed like an agonizingly long day, Nona reported that she’d picked you up, walked with you back home, and were in good spirits. While waiting for dinner to be ready that night I read a great book to you about starting Kindergarten. There was a part in the book about some people crying on the first day. I asked if you cried, you defiantly said no. I asked if anyone else cried; you said yes. Did you make new friends? Yes. Do you know their names? No. I suggested maybe Monday you could learn at least one new friend’s name and you said that was a good idea.

The weekend came and went, and Monday came rolling back around right on time as it always does. On the way to school, you told me you were ready to wait at the gate and get to the playground “all by mineself.” I admired your grit but sorry, mister, you are still only 5 and a half, so I waited with you again. That evening you still could not remember any names. The next day on our short car ride to school, you said you thought you could walk to school all by yourself by the time you were seven. “Hhhhhmmmmm,” I said aloud, “we’ll see.” In my head I thought, no way—ten, maybe, but not seven. That night your school sent out an email saying that starting the next day, no parents would be allowed on campus unless they had official business—even parents of Kindergartners. Wednesday morning came; we walked to the gate and I reminded you if you had trouble finding your class or the playground to ask one of the teachers. “I know, Mom!” you said in an annoyed tone as you quickly ran off and away. I literally stood at the gate and watched you until I couldn’t see you anymore. I asked you that evening if you got lost finding your class; you did, but you asked someone and they helped—“just like you said, Mom.”

Fast forward to now; tomorrow, you will have been a Kindergartner for 30 days. One month down already! You have had a few rough days but we have gotten through them–thank the Universe we get a new day to be better every 24 hours. We are settling into our new morning and evening routines and this will be your second week of having homework. I still remind you each time I drop you off to be a good student, a good listener, and a good friend. Speaking of friends, you have made some and you now know their names. One friend, whom I will call J, gave you some rubber stamps, a quarter, and some candy that you proudly brought home and showed to me. You were beaming and at first you didn’t want to tell me her name, but then you did. Is this possibly your first crush? Time will tell. You are already able to write your name quicker and more clearly, and you are “reading” books on your own at bedtime every night with Daddy and me. You are also learning Spanish and are starting to sprinkle in some Spanish words into your sentences when you speak. I have no doubt this trend will continue over the coming months and I can’t wait to see what kind of “last-day” Kindergartner you are compared to what your “first-day” Kindergartner self was. Onward and upward, young man–keep touching the sky. 

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