I knew this day was going to come. I’ve been preparing for it for years. I just never expected it to actually get here!
This morning, I dropped my son off for his first day of kindergarten. There was a huge range of emotions present, from excitement to nerves to tears – and that was just him! When we woke up, he couldn’t wait to get out of the house. I could see a sneak peek of his nerves, though, as he was getting dressed, when he asked “what if I need to go potty?” Since he was practicing with the snap on his pants, I thought he was just worried that he wouldn’t be able to get it, until he asked if there was a bathroom there. Totally legitimate concern, if you ask me, and I assured him that there were bathrooms at the school and all he had to do was ask his teacher if he could go.
He impatiently let me take his picture in front of the house, make him breakfast, and we waited for his little sister’s sitter to arrive, then took off running through the backyard to the car. The entire drive to school, he made plans. We were going to sit in the car and play with his big dinosaur for a few minutes, then walk up to school and wait (not very long, though) for his teacher to take them inside for school to start.
We arrived, circled once around the block to scope out the parking situation, and then sat in the car for about 45 seconds. He watched other kids walking up instead of playing with his dinosaur, then decided he was ready to go. He said hi to the lady at the cross walk, who was the first to wish him good luck and good morning., and walked across the street with me, hand in hand, as confident as can be. Once he saw the lines forming in front of the kindergarten doors, though, the nerves started settling in. We went up and found out which line was for his class and stood together, talking and looking for his friends.
The 10 minute wait took a toll on him. As the seconds and minutes ticked by, I could see and feel the anxiety building in him. His grip on my hand became tighter and he stood closer and closer to me. When his friend Teague, who he has been in daycare/preschool with since they were babies, arrived, he was happier, and they stood together for a picture before taking their places in, for the first time in their lives, different lines for different classrooms. His friend Kyler arrived just moments before the teachers came out, and Maddox was worried that it was too late to get their picture taken together. We squeezed it in right before Kyler’s class headed inside.
It was then that I had the epic mommy fail of the year. I had lifted my camera to take a shot of my dear friend Alana walking her son into the building. As I lowered the camera, I was laughing with her and not paying attention, and smack! I hit Maddox right on the head with it. This isn’t the first time I have hit him in the head with my camera, but it was the worst time. The nerves that had building up inside of him poured out in his tears, and he held his head and cried his poor little heart out. I tried to laugh and calm him down but inside I was crying, too. What a way to start your very first day of kindergarten!
It was then, of course, that his class started moving forward. I held his hand and cheerily walked in with him, still trying to calm down his tears from being whacked in the head with a gripped Canon 5D2 & 24-70. He refused to find his cubby to hang up his bag until I walked over with him, and then we headed to his table. I sad hi to the adorable little girl with blond curls and introduced him as another nervous little boy took his seat on the other side of Maddox. My little man didn’t want to sit down, but when the bell rang and I told him that it meant I had to leave, he sat down, turned to the side, and buried his sweet little face in his fists and cried.
As I walked away, my heart broke for him, and I fought back tears, too, even though it wasn’t the first time I’d left him somewhere new. But today changed our lives forever. We have a kindergartener. We now have school nights and early outs and lunch boxes and take home folders. Gone are the days of keeping him home just for the heck of it and random trips to the library and the zoo and watching movies all day for no reason. Now, we have schedules and bells and deadlines and, some day, homework. We have school friends and teachers and classes and pick up and dropp off and a whole lot to learn about being parents to a school age child.
And we also have a brave, kind hearted little boy that is going to transform into an amazing, responsible little man right in front of our eyes. The tears that he shed this morning are a right of passage. He is leaving his mom and his daycare/preschool teachers and his routine for something bigger and better and just a little bit scary, but something he has looked forward to for the last year. He will make all new friends and learn so many new and exciting things, and those tears (and that nasty bump on the head) will be forgotten and soon he’ll walk up to those doors and into that classroom with the same excitement that he ran across our backyard with this morning.
I might still cry a little, and I’ll always feel awful about hitting him on the head. But it makes for a good “first day of school” story, right?