Thursday, August 13, 2009

...And Away She Goes

We took Valerie to her first day of kindergarten yesterday. She looked stunning in her first-day-of-school dress. I felt very proud, and not just because I made the dress. She was so excited and eager to go.

Me, not so much. I put on a good face, even though I'd had butterflies in my stomach since the night before. Getting ready for school that morning went very smoothly. But I felt strange the whole time, nervous. And as we stepped out the front door I regretted every time I'd ever been grumpy or snapped at Valerie. How could I have ever said a harsh word to this lovely ethereal creature, my beautiful daughter, about to become more independent from me than ever before?

We arrived early so we could find parking. Right after she got out of the car Valerie exclaimed, "Make new friends!" We got to the classroom and waited 15 long minutes before the doors opened and everyone was welcomed inside. Valerie found her name tag, found her seat at one of the tables, and glanced around. Then, she settled in with some books on the circle rug. She looked up at me with concern on her face and I got worried because I really didn't want to have to leave her at kindergarten crying.

But she just said, "I want to play, mama." What had I been worried about?? It was highly unlikely that she was going to be the one to cry. I caught the teacher's eye and asked, "Is it about time to say our goodbyes?" She nodded. Tom had already gone outside with Andrew who also really just wanted to play. I got all choked up, and barely got through saying bye-bye and I love you and I'll be here to pick you up after school. I hugged Valerie close, kissed her soft cheek, got up, and walked out leaving my precious first-born at KINDERGARTEN.

Then I cried all the way to the multipurpose room for the PTO social.

All day long I thought about what Valerie might be doing at school. I thought back to when I was teaching and all the ice-breaker activities, easy projects, school tours, playground rules, going-to-the-restroom procedures that are fun and standard fare for first days. It is always such an exciting, exhausting day getting to know 20 new personalities.

It was oddly quiet around the house. Andrew had no competition for toys or his mama's attention. When it was time for him to nap, he slept for well over an hour. Turns out he sleeps much longer without a big sister around to wake him up! So I got some time to myself. During the day. Looks like the return of naptime (and that will be another story).

Suddenly it was time to go pick Valerie up. I chased Andrew around the school yard, waiting eagerly for the doors to open and my sweet angel-girl to come bopping out of her classroom. Then there she was, searching the sea of faces for mine, her mama's face. She smiled BIG and came running over to hug me, saying, "Mama!" I almost cried again, my heart leapt into my throat. Andrew was happy to see her, too. She went to get her backpack and I patted Valerie's teacher on the shoulder congratulating her on her first day of kindergarten (though a veteran teacher, this is her first year in K). With a kind of bewildered look she said, "It went by so fast." As a mother and a teacher, I knew exactly how she felt.

And so begins another adventure for Valerie, for me, for our family. Away we go...


  1. Seriously, gorgous dress...can you make me one? Love love love this post! As I was reading I got that lump in my throat, tears welled up, then a smile. Tomorrow's a big day for us!