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Sunday, September 12, 2010  

First Day

We've been working pretty hard to prepare M. Edium emotionally for kindergarten. We brought it up frequently. We were always willing to talk to him about it as much as he wanted. We've been reading him stories about starting kindergarten, from 16-page picture books to Ramona the Pest. We even told him that unlike when he started day care or Montessori, his first day of kindergarten would be everyone else's first day too, a fact which seemed to relieve him greatly. We just forgot to prepare ourselves.

Okay, that's not actually true, at least not where Trash is concerned. She put together a whole plan for Thursday, when he began afternoon kindergarten. He would get to stay home from Montessori that morning (although he'll still be going there three mornings a week, for its science curriculum); get to pick his breakfast (pancakes and sausage); have a little outing with his mom (who had taken the day off for the occasion); have lunch at his favorite bistro, McDonald's; and let us drive him to his first day at school. Then Trash would go home, sit with our friend Bitter, and drink some wine. At the appointed time, I would drive us back, pick him up, take him to karate class, and then bring him ukulele shopping. You know, just like any other kid's first day of school. I can't believe I'm even outlining such a standard ritual.

I didn't see it coming, though. A lot of parents are ambivalent about their kids growing up, but I'm generally pretty strongly in favor of it (especially given the alternative). But I'd been thinking about this day in the future tense for so long that it seemed stuck that way. And then suddenly we were out on the sidewalk leading into the school, waiting for his teacher to come out and line everyone up before leading them in, and it hit me that this was it. This short interval is going to be his last first day of kindergarten. I quit thinking about the two big proposals I had due at work the next day, both sitting in a worrisome state of incompletion, and realized there's no going back with this kid.

In Ramona the Pest, there's a chapter where Ramona finds herself, for the first time in her life, in a situation where nobody knows who she is (it's because she's wearing a Halloween mask, but it still triggers an alarming existential crisis for her). That's where M. Edium was headed now. I mean, not that day, not literally, because he'd met his kindergarten teacher twice before, as well as several of his (13!) classmates, but it's coming, right? Sometime? Not that he was remotely worried about anything. He was too excited to meet his new best friend, who has a Clone Wars backpack just like his.

Afternoon kindergarten lasts two and a half hours. When I first learned that, all I could think of was what a paltry amount of time that seemed like, after his being accustomed to six-, seven-, and eight-hour days at the Montessori school. And especially considering that afternoons tend to be the part of my work day that fly by.

That hasn't been the case so far. His first two days of kindergarten, those 150 minutes have crawled more slowly than he did five years ago.

This moving photograph of a poignant, memorable moment was TOTALLY STAGED.

posted by M. Giant 7:39 PM 2 comments

2 Comments:

That's so sweet. Our youngest has just started full-day kindergarten, and we’re glad to be rid of him. Maybe because he’s our third.

Just kidding - he’s been dying to get into kindergarten since his brother started four years ago.

By Blogger Andy Jukes, at September 12, 2010 at 8:38 PM  

Ah yes, the first day of kindergarten. I remember it all too clearly. The excitement of my kid, who was unable to stand still and instead danced about at the corner of our street where we waited for the bus. The bus pulling up and how she bounded up the stairs, grinning and thrilled, while we stood on the sidewalk and waved the "I love you" sign with increasing franticness as the bus pulled away. The inability to stop the flow of tears that started as we turned around and trudged back up the sidewalk to our eerily quiet house.

(And then the way I leaped into my car and drove after the bus, following it all the way to school where I crouched down in my seat to watch my kid bound back off and go skipping into school. She didn't see me.)

For us it was full day kindergarten and the thought of my tiny 5 year old navigating a lunch line with a tray and eating in a cafeteria (actually, auditeria or cafetorium - it was a combo room) killed me.

Like Lazarus, however, I was alive again in time for the bus to deposit her back on the corner. The first day of first grade was a little bit easier - tears but no complete "puddle of goo" state (and of course I'm referring to the grown-ups, not the kid - she was totally fine), and the first day of second grade last week produced nary a tear (though there was, as ever, a lump in my throat).

I hope M.Edium has a fantastic kindergarten year and that you and Trash acclimate quickly to the new world order. Like I tweeted to her last week - only 2 more years and you guys'll be (mostly) fine on the first day!

By Blogger Heather, at September 13, 2010 at 6:10 AM  

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