First Day

It’s here!  It’s here!  The first day of kindergarten is finally here!

Yesterday we went to Zoey’s school to find her classroom and meet her teacher.  I instantly liked Mrs. Gee, a woman who has taught kindergarten for more than 20 years.  She just looks the part.  First day this morning, she arrived wearing a long denim dress appliqued with apples around the wide, round collar.  Glasses on a chain.  Soft, yet cheery, voice.  All very, very reassuring.

My little one went to sleep easily last night, after some tears about not being able to spend Wednesdays with Mommy any more.  I kept assuring her how much fun she would have at school, and how the first day was such a big deal!  It’s such a big day tomorrow, bug!  Until she said…Mommy, I know.  Stop saying that.  She drifted off and my tears fell at that point.  Looking at her, sweetly sleeping, felt like I was putting a baby to bed and knowing that a big girl would wake up in her place the next morning.  I stroked her hair the same way I did when I first held her in the hospital, right after she was born…yesterday, right?  Wasn’t that JUST yesterday?

This morning, my big kid bounced out of bed at 6:30, excited and anxious for her big day.  I was so relieved her first day fell on my day off…it gave us the morning to do some special things (new outfit!  waffles for breakfast!) and some things just the same as always (read to me, Mommy, just like we always do, please?).  We arrived at school a bit early, on a perfect late summer morning: beautiful blue skies, with just the slightest chill in the air.  I thought of the conversation I had with my sister, Abby, last night.  She is teaching college level English classes and one of her sessions yesterday was filled with college freshman…eager and excited, a classroom full of young people filled with positive energy.  We were comparing her students to Zoey’s kindergarten class, and marveling at how energizing it is to be surrounded by all that hopeful anticipation and excitement.  This morning, Zoey’s classroom was filled with just that.  21 wriggling, excited, anxious bodies happily found their hooks to hang their backpacks and their cubby filled with chunky Crayola crayons.  I looked around and just soaked up all the potential.  Kindergartners radiate potential.

As parents began to file out of the room, I kissed Zoey goodbye and told her I had to leave.  A few brief moments of panic ensued.  Don’t leave, Mommy!  I want you to stay!  Mrs. Gee told me it was fine to stay a few more minutes, but I knew I needed to get out of there, for Zoey’s sake and for mine.  I wasn’t teary–in fact, I had anticipated being far more emotional–but the time had come to leave her in the hands of this competent, denim-clad woman.  So I did.  And Zoey was fine.  I watched with some of my friends from the doorway as the first day of kindergarten began.  Zoey looked quite grown up, and yet very small, all at the same time.

And now here we are, Wednesday afternoon, a day that’s been totally strange for me.  I’ve had Zoey with me nearly every Wednesday since we moved home in 2009.  It seems strange to have so many hours to fill on my own, without having to accommodate the needs of my hungry/bored/wiggly/talkative sidekick.  I miss her!  I can hardly wait to pick her up.

Kindergarten potential!  Energy!  Happiness!  Let’s hear it for the new school year!

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