September 4, 2007
Today I sent my 5 year old son off to his first day of Kindergarten.
He has been excited for months about starting school. In fact, when he finished Pre-K at the beginning of June, he was upset about having to stop school for Summer Break! He loves school and has a lot of good friends there.
Yesterday we had a wonderful Labor day cook out at our house with several of our good friends and their children. Last night, my son took a shower and got ready for bed. We picked out his outfit for his first day. He was wiggling with excitement. Then he stopped for a moment and was thinking hard. He said, “Mommy, are you sad that I’m going to be in Kindergarten tomorrow?” My husband shot me a teasing look, as if to already poke fun of my emotional state of my son starting Kindergarten. It is a huge milestone in a child’s life! I told my son “I might be a little sad tomorrow for your first day, but it’ll be because you’re getting so big and smart and growing up so fast, and it makes me happy too.” He came over and hugged me so hard and said, “Mommy, I’ll always miss you when I’m in Kindergarten.” Thats all it took to send tears rolling down my face. I hugged him hard, and told him I love him. My husband giggled and said “Mommy is crying already!” I ensured my son that they were very happy tears.
So we tucked the boy into bed and he was more than willing to go to bed, because he was so excited for going to school in the morning. I said “Go to sleep good, Honey, because you’ll need your rest for Kindergarten tomorrow.” He said “Okay, Mommy, I will!” I said “I love you, my Kindergartener,” and kissed and hugged him. He smiled and said, “I love you too, Mommy.” As I walked out of his room, he said “Mommy.” I stopped in his doorway and turned back, “Yes, dear?” He said, “Always call me a Kindergartener!”
As soon as he laid down in his quiet and dark room and started to think, his excitement turned into nervousness. He got out of bed several times to ask me questions about his first day.
“Mommy, what if I’m not used to the teacher?”
“Mommy, will all of my friends from Pre-K be there?”
“What will we eat for lunch at school?”
“Mommy, what if I forget where the bathrooms are at school?”
“Mommy, what if all of the other kids have Pirates of the Caribbean folders and pencils just like mine?”
As you can clearly see, my son is a child that likes to know whats going to happen and what to expect out of a situation. I answered his questions as best I could and was completely honest with him. It might take him time to get used to his new teacher, not all of his friends from Pre-K will be there, they’ll show him where the bathrooms are, and nobody loves Pirates as much as he does although they might have some Pirates of the Caribbean school supplies as well.
After each question, I sent him back to bed. But he was still nervous. His feelings took me back to my own feelings of the night before the first day of school growing up. The excitement of new school supplies, in your favorite color or with your favorite characters. New clothes, a new grade, a new teacher and possibly new friends in class. Lying in bed with everything running through your mind.
I went into his room and laid down in his bed with him to rub his back and ensure him that everything would be okay. He’s an emotional child as it is, and the excitement and nervousness was escalating. He shortly broke down into tears. He was trying to talk through the tears and explain why he was so upset. Finally I deciphered his words between his short choppy sobs. He said “It was a good picture! My white shoes and my striped shirt.” I said, “Honey, are you talking about the picture that we took of you on your first day of Pre-K of last year?” He said “YES!” and sobbed some more. I asked why he was upset about that good picture we have of him from last year. He said “Because it was a good picture, and those were good days, and they’re over now and I can’t do them again.”
It took everything in my power not to lay there and bawl right along with my son. But I was able to hold back. I told him, “Yes they were good days and you have good memories of those days. But now, you can make new memories and have new days of Kindergarten, and of course Mommy will take new pictures.”
I laid with my son and he eventually drifted off to sleep. I’m sure he dreamed of the smell of new crayons, running with friends at recess, white Elmers glue, and running home to tell his Mom about the awesome first day. Or at least, thats why I dreamed of last night.
After my son was sleeping, I sat in my living room and labeled all of his school supplies with tears rolling down my face. Tears of joy, tears of sadness.
This morning, every ounce of nervousness and anxiety had left my son. I woke him up and he instantly smiled at me and said, “Its time for Kindergarten!”
My son’s night before school reminded me that everyone has trouble letting go of the past, good or bad, and moving on to bigger, better and newer things. But we do it because, thats life and thats growing up. And THATS why I take so many damn pictures! To document and remember the past. Because as my son so plainly said “those were good days, and they’re over now and I can’t do them again.”
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