Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Lucia's First Day of Kindergarten

Huge milestone last week: Lucia's first day of kindergarten. It seems like we've been preparing for this for over a year, and in many ways we have--with Lucia nearly six years old, her pre-K program last year focused intensely (well, intensely but playfully) on kindergarten prep. Writing, counting, reading readiness, kindergarten routines. She was so well-prepared that by the time the big day arrived last Thursday, she felt fully ready. When I tried to give her some last-minute instructions, she said, "Mommy, I already know that from the pre-K 5's."

She was excited, and, as she admitted, "a little bit scared," mostly about the bus. And it's really a big deal, the bus--she gets on, gets to school, gets back on the bus, and has to get off the bus on her own. There's no one announcing the stops, or calling names, or making sure all the kids who are supposed to get off the bus do, indeed, get off. The day before her first day, we took a walk to the bus stop and I showed her what to look for out the bus window so she'd recognize her stop. In the morning, we made sure she met the other kids at the stop, especially the older ones (first- and second-graders) who knew the ropes. And then--we had to let her get on the bus, on her own, where she sat with a first-grade neighbor girl and waved to us through the window. No hesitation, no tears.

Except Andrew's. I was fine--excited for her--but as soon as the bus pulled away, Andrew began openly crying. Of course she doesn't know that, and it wouldn't mean anything to her anyway if she did; but one day she'll know how lucky she is to have a daddy who cries when he says goodbye.

Once the bus set off, we got in the car and drove to the school. We'd received copious instructions about meeting our kids behind the school, on the blacktop where they line up each day, and then accompanying them to their classroom. Andrew dropped me off and went to find a parking space, but when I got to the blacktop, to Lucia's line, there was no Lucia. She wasn't in any of the lines, not even when her line walked into the school. She wasn't in front of the school, or in the school, and everyone kept telling me to just go find her line. As I moved through the insane crowd outside, I felt a tug on my dress--and there was Lucia, calm and amused, wandering loose through the enormous crowd of kids and parents, identifying me by my dress. Ack.

We took her to her classroom and hung out there just for a bit, and then said goodbye. Again, no tears from Lucia, and more tears from Andrew in the school hallway. Poor Andrew! I can't imagine how he would have fared if Lucia was newly five instead of nearly six.

The big wild card, of course, was the bus ride home, and we were so relieved when Lucia got off the bus, smiling and happy. She had a great first day and was so excited about the whole thing. So excited to be in kindergarten. She told anyone we met that day--"Today I started kindergarten." It is such a big deal, so important.

She had a good second day, too, except for the bus ride home. She came off the bus crying, scared because she thought she'd missed her stop. But she's been fine ever since, and the past couple of days she's climbed off the bus all smiles, so proud of herself, and chattier than I've ever seen her about her new friends, and the things they did at school that day. So far, so good!

She already seems more grown up.

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