Saturday, August 10, 2013

School: A New Chapter

The morning was cool and quiet, not a soul on the street except the wild birds and chickens. I had my new Nikon 1 J1 in hand; Almonds donned her oversized purple Jansport. We began the cross-town walk to her first day of kindergarten.

"Are you ready?" I asked.
"Yeah," she shrugged.

I believed her. And why shouldn't I? She's been ready to go to school for a long time.

As we walked, I told her of all the things I expect of her as a student in school.
"Listen to your teacher..."
"Be kind to the other kids..."
"Don't worry if kids are mean to you..."

I started to wonder if those were the right things to tell her, and if our first walk was the right time. Should I have told her to study hard and get really good grades? Should we have made a plan on how we would do her homework when she got home everyday? Should she have practiced saying her full name, or memorizing my phone number, or gone over spelling and counting? And what especially do you say when you know, at this big moment in her life, she wishes her daddy were here with her?

Braxton-Hicks were bugging me, and Almonds was getting tired of our walk. But once we arrived at the elementary school, both our weariness became anxiety. A group of kids were playing with a bouncy ball against the wall of a classroom. Others were running around us kicking a soccer ball. Parents and teachers and staff were scrambling to get individuals here and there. The fields and playgrounds were packed, more so than Almonds and I have seen before. Her first exposure to public school. She slowed her pace.

"Are you getting nervous?" I asked her.
"Yeah," she muttered.

I held her hand with as much calmness and confidence I could. "It's okay," I started, "this is what school looks like. A lot of kids go here at the same time. After a while, you'll get used to being around so many people. And I'll always come to pick you up when school is done."

All I could do was hope that those were the right words. If my Jobi were here, he probably would've just said, "eh, never mind," and that'd be the end of it.

Man, I wish my husband were here.

I guided her to the correct classroom. She said hi to the teacher and walked in, as if forgetting I was still there. Good girl, I thought. You'll do just fine. I turned around and waddled home, breathing deeply, trying not to cry.

My dad used to say that kindergarten is not a big deal. It's a part of life and kids should go, so parents shouldn't fuss over it so much. The same with graduation from elementary school, and even graduation from high school. Parents need to reserve their celebratory urges for life events that deserve it: graduation from college, marriage, honorable full-time mission. Those kinds of milestones. Kindergarten is not one of those.

At least that's what I thought. So I didn't plan anything. I made Almonds her favorite breakfast and took maybe five pictures of her, and I think my dad would find that sufficient.

But as I walked her to school that day, just me and her, I realized it wasn't just that she was starting kindergarten. She was leaving her baby and toddler self behind for good. She was about to leave home -- to really leave home -- for the first time and see the world. She was, literally, growing up. And we as her parents have to let her. Have to allow Time to pass as it's supposed to. Have to accept the fact that we are now parents of people other than babies.

This was the time of parenting I was most looking forward to. Being mom to kids that went to school. I've always loved the idea of sending kids off into the world, spending my mornings doing whatever I wanted all those things I needed to in peace, helping kids with homework in the afternoon and eating dinners without high chairs. I pictured my husband coming home from work before dinner, teaching the kids how to throw a frisbee, or kick a soccer ball, or shoot a basket. Or even wrestle, if he wanted to. (Because I know he'd want to.) I imagined family evenings would be easier because all our children would be eloquent and expressive and we could clearly understand them; we can have great discussions and, as a family, come up with ideas that would satisfy and enrich everyone. I especially loved the idea of our kids sleeping in their own rooms. Of them being too big to stay on our bed, so they would rather be in their own space, on their own beds, ultimately giving us a little privacy back. Being parents of little school-aged children will be the best, I thought. I'm over this stage of having a house full of babies, I thought.

So why am I trying not to cry? Why am I secretly wishing my Almonds didn't have to go to school this year? Why did I walk home from that elementary school reminiscing about her potty training days, and her crawling days, and the day she was born? Why am I looking at Blondie and Chip as kids that will soon grow up and leave me, and feeling sad about it?

Is this what parenting truly is? Having so much love for (an)other human being(s) that, even when the responsibility may seem too much, you wouldn't have it any other way?

My Almonds started kindergarten. And my family, as a whole, just grew up before my eyes.
I wasn't ready for that.

1 comment:

  1. Wow I think I was seriously balling reading this post. Im so glad she was fine after she went into the classroom. You are very strong to be able to take her by yourself. When Sapi went to prek the first day was exactly like that for us, thoughts and reminiscing of younger years. I think every milestone, every birthday and even kindergarten should be celebrated. Life is so short and its these moments that make life so full. Wish we were there. Love you guys.


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