Monday, August 24, 2009

The Road to College

Today our lives turned a corner on the long road to college (or some life path of their choosing), my girls started kindergarten.

When my eldest started kindergarten the teacher did a home visit ahead of time to assess the students skills, and to help prepare us parents for that momentous first day. One of the things they told us is that it would be best if we just said goodbye at the play yard gate, and walked away. No long goodbyes, no clinging hugs, just peel the kids off and go. I spent 2 weeks mentally preparing both myself and Stacey for that day. When it finally arrived I got her up, dressed, and fed. Took the obligatory first day photo (which is still one of my favorites) and headed off to school hand in hand. My heart beat a little faster as we neared those ominous gates (which in those days were chain link, but are now a lovely wrought iron). Suddenly the moment was upon us, we were there, and even more suddenly my kid was off. There she went, through the gate, to the playground, to swing on the swings, slide the slides, and climb the structures without a look back. I found that the clinging, crying child at the gate was me.

Fast forward many years to the present day when I once again found myself sending a child, two in fact, to school for the first time. I'm not sure if times have changed or if it's just the school, but there were many events leading up to this day. Parent back to school, buddy parent meetings, lemonade socials, and the like have broken us in for this first day. Instead of leaving children at the gate, parents were welcomed into the classroom and encouraged to help their children complete a classroom scavenger hunt. At the end of the hunt, the parents were gently requested to join the rest of the school for a back to school coffee social while the children took up the familiar spot on the carpet for their orientation and story time.

All of the people were a bit overwhelming for Sam, so she hung back and sat to read a book by herself, but as the parents left the room I noticed her relax and she eagerly joined the group on the rug. Riley, on the otherhand, had eagerly joined in the scavenger festivities until two things happened: 1. Parents were asked to leave, and 2. another child had gotten into their lunch bag. Suddenly she was "hungry" and grabbed onto my neck wanting me to get her something to eat. Explaining that she would eat with the rest of the class when it was time was not sufficient. I gave her a hug and kiss, said, "I love you", but that was not enough for her. Her grasp only tightened so as not to let me go. To her teachers credit (and one of the reasons we love her already), she came over, gently asked Riley to join the group, and allowed her to stand right next to her chair which is where I left her. This time there were no tears from me, though many emotions were surging through my body. Does it mean I'm any less sad or excited than I was with my first? Absolutely not. It just means that I, we, they were much better prepared.

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