Kindergarten Takeaway #1

Kindergarten drop-off.  Talk about heart-wrenching.

I actually have tears streaming down my face right now as I write about it.

Yesterday, on the first day of school, they had parents drop their kids off in the classroom and help them get situated.  I handled that with poise–at least until I hopped in the car and started blubbering.

But today, they asked us not to take our kids directly to the classroom.  They wanted to avoid the chaos of a thousand kids and all of their parents in the school– and wanted kids to learn how to get to their classrooms on their own–which meant that I had to pull up in front of the school and drop off my baby.  Then I had to pull away and trust that Joey could find his own way into the school and find his class in the cafeteria.  He was on his own.

This was a huge step.  For him and for me.  I was terrified.  What if he got lost?  Or what if some big fifth grader picked on him?  Or what if he couldn’t find his way?   And he was a little nervous, too.  The whole way there, we rehearsed what he needed to do:  step out of the car, walk into the building, head straight ahead to the cafeteria and find his teacher next to the green pot with the caterpillar on it.  If he got lost, he had to find either a teacher or one of the fifth graders wearing an orange vest– honorary “safety patrol” members whose job it was to help kids figure it out.

Then, after a quick prayer, he was off.  I pulled up to the school and a safety patrol kid opened his door.  Joey climbed out.  I gulped down a tear as he looked at me with big, terrified eyes.  Then he froze.  He literally stood on the sidewalk looking at me, then looking at the school, then back at me.  And then I saw a tear stream down his face.

My gut instinct?  To stop my car right there and get out and help him.  To hold his hand and show him the way.  But I couldn’t.  Doing that would only show him that I didn’t have confidence in him– that I didn’t trust him to stand on his own two feet.  So I put on a smile when I was sobbing inside and waved.  I yelled:  “You got this, buddy!  You know what to do!” and pulled my car into drive.

As I pulled away, crying, I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw him.  My baby had hoisted his backpack over his shoulders and turned towards the school– and he was confidently walking towards the cafeteria.

And while I’m a mess right now– feeling all weepy because my baby is away at Kindergarten and I’m not there holding his hand– I’m also really proud of him.  He’s there– on his own, learning, growing, playing– and I know without a doubt that he is ready.  He can do this.  He can stand on his own two feet.

13 Comments

  1. Oh, bless you. There’s nothing like that feeling. And though my oldest will be in first grade, I am sure I’ll feel the same next week!

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  2. Oh how many years ago that was for me, but how I remember it so vividly! He’ll do just great!

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  3. Man, oh, man, pass the tissues!

    You and your little man are doing great.

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  4. …and I’m crying at the office.

    I’m sure Joey is going to be an awesome Kindergartner and when Kate gets there he’ll get to be the big brother to show her the ropes! I can’t believe how fast they’re growing up.

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  5. I’m crying too…. sheesh. Hooray for you Mama, you did it! And he did it too :)

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  6. Ugh….I say, let the mama’s go to class!!! I was walking my first grader to class through the end of the year. Even on TAKS testing days when nobody was allowed to step their foot in the door…I walked on through and smiled thinking…sure try and stop me.

    I remember I was so worried about kindergarten, that at Meet the Teacher night before school began I set eyes on my opportunity. There it was…all alone on the desk. Parent volunteer sign-up form. I ripped it off the desk and filled in my name big on day one–walked proudly over the teacher and said, I got this day for you. I am here for you, whatever you need. She was hesitant and I thought…what can she do now…I am totally in.”

    My mother never let me hear the end of that. Now, if I could just figure out how to transport myself via the backpack.

    The things we do as mothers.

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  7. Ugh! I am boo-hooing! So proud of YOU for being a wonderful mom and preparing him to step out into the world of Kindergarten!

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  8. oh, i’m crying just thinking about it! i know he did great and you did too by driving away when you wanted to stay.

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  9. WAAAH!!
    Make me cry, why doncha?!

    I think you were stronger than I would have been in that situation! Poor little guy!

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  10. This makes me want to cry, too! I hope his day was great!

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  11. I am right there with you! It is sort of this bittersweet-gentle-shoving out of the nest. We had to do the same thing… two days of classroom drop-off, and now the kids head to the cafeteria. Each day, my son looks back at me with tears in his eyes, but he turns around and walks forward. It helps at the end of the day when he tells me he had a good day and it “went really fast.”

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  12. Great story! My kiddos are young (2 & 3) but I just know this day is coming, probably sooner than I’ll be ready for. One of the books I’ve been reading to my boys almost since they were born (thanks to a friend that works for Penguin) is “Best Baby Ever” by David Milgrim. It’s all about how fast his little boy turns from a baby, to a walker and talker, and then ends with him getting on the school bus and both parents sobbing. I’ve cried a few times when I’ve read it. Bittersweet.

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