I have never had a child so anxious to get to school as this sweet girl has been. When I woke her up this morning I said, “It’s here! Your first day of school!” She immediately replied, “You mean second?” and then sat up, looked around and realized she’d been dreaming about it. Her backpack has been packed for a week, her clothes carefully set out for days, her heart running full speed ahead.
On our way to school she informed me that she didn’t need me to walk her in. Her sisters could do it. So, in spite of the tear that pricked at the corner of my eye I reminded myself that this is about her, and agreed. We said good-bye at in the car at the curb and she was off. As I drove away I looked in my mirror and watched her race ahead of the other three children. I don’t think anyone walked her anywhere. She was a little rocket that knew exactly where to go. I’m excited to pick her up and listen to everything she will tell me about her first day of kindergarten.
I knew I would only get one shot at the traditional back to school photos, so we let the kids vote. They all agreed to do it today so their sister could have it on her first day. You can see how thrilled they were to keep their word. With four different start times this year we had to do it pretty early. It’s interesting that as they get older beginnings like these feel a little messier. This school year hasn’t started like they used to, with everyone smiling, new backpacks on their shoulders like big bows wrapping the day up as a gift. It’s ok. Like so many other things, this beginning has evolved into something a little different and my efforts to preserve it are generally greeted with little patience and eventual – grudging – surrender.
I had big plans for my schedule but they quickly changed with the hysterical sobbing of my youngest. She’s been dreading this day and refuses to be happy. I know she’ll adjust and come to love the time we spend together, just the two of us, but today she’s mourning the loss of her best friend for part of the day. We’ve read stories, snuggled and tickled her.
As I finish typing this, I realize what is different. For my five year old today’s beginning was a milestone, a landmark on her life’s path. For our family, and especially for the older kids, it’s more a continuation of things. My heart stands back, looking for the landmark and what I find instead is the steady over and under of a familiar thread on the loom.
Seven of them in school. I honestly didn’t think this day would ever come but here it is.
And it’s ok.