Wednesday was the the big day: kindergarten. Vivienne was equal parts nerves and excitement as we talked (and talked and talked) about this big new step.
What if no one likes me?
What if I forget and can’t write my name?
What if my feet walk the wrong way and I get lost?
As with most transitions, there is this big temptation as a parent to leap right into the deep sea of nostalgia. The last this, the last that… it will never be just like this again. A little dose is good — I hope I’ve taken the time to reflect well — but I tried to just wade around the edges a bit and not dive in head first.
Instead, I cleared my schedule to just hang out with her for the last couple days before school. We played, talked, planned out school snacks and special dinners for her first week of school. We curled up and read a chapter book she’s been begging for: one installment of a truly painful series titled “Candy Fairies” set in “Sugar Valley.” The covers all have glitter on them, and the fairies say things like “sugarific!” She loves them.
Inspired by the drama unfolding in Sugar Valley, we made our own butterscotch and had ice cream sundaes with friends — a perfect diversion from kindergarten nerves.
We had so much fun, and I think the one-on-one time was really reassuring for her as she got ready for the big day. (It certainly made me feel better.)
As we waited for the bus Wednesday morning, Viv kept worrying, “What if I get scared…” For a little reassurance, we drew matching hearts on our hands, so she could look down and remember that Mom is praying for her all day. (A great tip from a friend!) We prayed as a family for her first day – that she would be confident and kind, curious and quick to listen. Even Hugh held hands with everyone and solemnly listened to the prayer.
Then, finally, the bus pulled up and she was off.
And no one cried! None of us even got misty — she was just so purely excited, we couldn’t help but grin along with her.
I DID tear up when she came home, leapt off the bus and danced around the yard with that huge backpack, shrieking, “I DID IT!”
Ryan popped by the house for a quick after school snack, so we all sat down to tea and pumpkin muffins. I told her I was dying to hear all about it, and wondered if I could ask her a few questions… “Ok, let’s talk,” she said, all business, “What’s the first one?”
So, here is our little first day of kindergarten interview:
How was the bus ride?
It was like “OH GOSH, scared” at first, then “OH GOSH, fun!”
What surprised you today?
I just wasn’t sure I’d make it home to my parents, then SURPRISE, I got off the bus and you guys were there!
Did anything make you worried?
One was I thought I would never, ever get home. But I did!
How did God help you?
He made me strong and ready!
What was the best moment of the day?
Well there was one GREAT moment when I said, “I want to go down this huge slide a HUNDRED of times even though it was so high!”
What made you laugh?
[Long pause] I laughed only once today, but I can’t remember why.
What was lunch like? Who did you sit with?
It was good, I talked with a couple of my students. I mean my friends, they’re not MY students. [Chuckles]
How were you a helper to your new friends?
Oh, I was really kind. I was like, “I can zip up your lunch bag for you,” or, “I can help you clean up those blocks!”
Did you look at your heart at all?
Yup, a lot of times. It said God is with me wherever I go, and Mommy, too.
Oh, my heart! I don’t think I ever understood why the first day of kindergarten is such a big deal… all the sentiment seemed blown out of proportion. But here we are, and I get it. We’ve arrived at the end of a season, the only season we’ve known as parents — the first five years, the daily closeness of mother and little one, complete.
It’s the beginning of independence, where the work we’ve done to prepare her for the world is supposed to start kicking in. She’s launched off into full days away from home, and it feels like a big deal.
Like Vivi, I’m a little scared and a lot excited — to see her grow and learn and become the person she was created to be. And I’m so proud of her — what a great start she’s had, and so many adventures ahead.