3 S.R. Johannes: The woes of Kindergarten

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The woes of Kindergarten

My daughter started the big K this week *sniff sniff*.

And, as expected, I did worse than she did.

On Tuesday morning, she jumped out of bed as soon as her new princess alarm clock went off singing. She was up and dressed before I could even open my eyes. (seeing as I had not gotten in until about 1:30 or 2 from LA.)

My daughter burst into my room and said, "I am more excited than if I was riding a huge rollercoaster." (I assumed that was big. Even though she has never ridden one, it summed it up pretty good. I got the point :)

The whole morning she was singing and buzzing around the house. She picked out her own clothes and came out and twirled. "Don't I look fancy?" She went on to explain (in great detail) why she chose her outfit and why it matched.

I think we were even 5 minutes early leaving the house, which for those who know me, know how hard that is and are probably in shock right now b/c I am always 15 minutes late.

When we got to the school, she clutched onto my hand. I did everything I could not to cry all the way into the building, down the hall, down the stairs and down her hall. Literally, I had a lump in my throat that reached my chest. I could not believe this was my little girl, going to big girl school, all day, away from me.

She was holding it together as if she was a pro. Me? squeezing back tears with every step. shaking. feeling sick to my stomach.

As we walked into the room, she slowed down a bit. She hung up her bag and turned to me: "Where are you going to sit Mommy?"


"Well, aren't you the room parent? where are you going to sit?"

Gulp. "Oh honey. I am the room parent does not mean I STAY in the room all day."

Her face dropped. I almost heard her confidence hit the floor. "What?"

"You stay here on your own."

"But i thought you were room parent?"

And then I lose it too. I still tried so much to hold it together but when you are looking into those big hazel eyes, filled with water. It's hard!

Then the teacher walks in - and it is a SUBSTITUTE!

Are you kidding me?

She still wasn't crying but what got me the most was that her lip started to quiver. She was TRYING not to cry. She kept looking at the kids and back at me. She whispered under her breath, "Mommy? Could you just stay 5 more minutes?"

In that moment, I realized how much older she was now. A year ago, she would have cried and not cared who was around. (Usually in a public place :) Now, she was embarrassed to cry. She was worried about the kids in the classroom. She was trying to hold it in like I was.

The bell rings for school to start.

I said, "Honey I'm going to go now. The bell just rang. School starts now and you will have such a blast here."

Then, she completely lost it and gripped onto my leg like a koala bear and its mommy.

My writer-side kicked in.

I took a little leather "S" off my keychain and clipped it to her belt. "Did you know this was a magic key chain?"

She stops crying for a second. "Really? how do you know?"

"Because I use it all the time and it helps me feel safe."

She smiles and wipes her face. She sits down on the rug and watches me leaving, tears rolling down her still-baby cheeks.

I waved and walked out.

My tears started and I cried all the way to the car and in the car.

Images of my baby girl growing up flashed through my mind. My emergency delivery for "failure to progress." The hard first 6 months when we were not sure what affect her heart defect would have on her and us. The emergency room visits. Her first steps. Her first words. Her 5 years flashed in front of me.

Now she was a big girl.

I watched the clock all day, waiting until I could pick her up. I called the school a couple of times and they said if she was really upset, the counselor would visit her. It's not like PreK where I could just go get her early. make her feel better with a mommy lunch or ice cream cone. I couldn't not sneak back in the school and peek through the window to see she was OK. That no one was being mean to her. That she was not sad. In K, you have to sign in.....evidently in blood if you want to visit the classroom.

Finally 2 oclock.

I race out the door, speed to the school, and pace outside, waiting for her class to be released. Different scenarios played out in my head. What if she cried all day? what if she hated it? what if someone pushed her? what if someone hurt her feelings?

Then, I see her little face come around the corner.

A smile from ear to ear.

She runs into my arms and hugs me.

"how was your day honey? was it OK?"

I wait for the horrible day to unfold.

"Mommy, I sang I love kindergarten all the way down the hall. But I whispered it to myself so no one could hear."

The panic floating inside me all day seeped out. I was so happy for her. So excited for her to start a new life.

"And you know what else Mommy?"

"What honey?"

"Tomorrow, I want to walk myself to my classroom. Without you."

"Well let's just take it slow."

"I can do it."

"I know you can. But I'm not ready for that yet. What were the happy parts about your day?"

She grips my hand and as we walk to the car, she fills me in about music class, art, and reading. She tells me about her two new friends. And explains the word "absent" to me.

"Any sad parts?"


There it is. My baby girl was gone. Replaced by a wonderful and brave little girl.

"Well, there was one thing."


"I missed you."

Today she did much better.

Me? Not so much.


Christina Lee said...

oh nooo I'm so pathetic b/c I teared up reading this- my little guy starts on the 26th (your start date seems early for some reason)and I am prepping myself for it! I too was thinking of giving him something to hold or keep (great thinking!)lovely post!

Susan R. Mills said...

I remember the day my daughter went to kindergarten. I cried, too. Today, she started high school. And I cried. (Don't tell anyone, though.)

Casey Something said...

Oh, Shelli, I got anxiety reading this. I can't even imagine my baby in kindergarten yet.

I'm so glad she ended up loving it!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Bittersweet and beautiful, Shelli. I absolutely love that you thought to give her the S from your keychain as a charm to keep her safe. That is a perfect mommy.

storyqueen said...

Beautifully captured.

Made me tear up a bit.


Corey Schwartz said...

Oh, she's so cute! Mine starts K in three weeks!

Little Ms J said...

Awww, so sweet!

Heidi Willis said...

This almost made me cry!

My baby starts 1st grade in four weeks. Not one of my three cared that our school doesn't let parents come past the front door on the first day of school - not even for kindergarten.

They all danced off without a look goodbye.


BUT they start talking before they are off the bus steps (or out the school door if I pick them up), and don't stop until I turn out the lights at night (and mostly not even then, as I'm yelling up the stairs, "I'm going downstairs! Goodnight! I can't hear you anymore!")

I figure that means they miss me some. :)

Mame said...

Yep. I'm a big, fat baby and you choked me up. Let me tell you, when my daughter sang in her first Christmas pageant at school? The frog in my throat was the size of some bizarrely huge South American toad.

StaffPicks said...

Beautiful story, Shelli. I can so sympathize... I feel like I'm still in kindergarten, myself. |;~)

Unknown said...

It is so hard to watch them fly. Good job! And how brave she was. Substitute! For shame school system, for shame!

Kelly Polark said...

You have me all teared up, I'm a baby too! It's hard to let go. I cry (after they get on the bus) the first day of kindergarten AND first grade because they have half day kindergarten and first grade is all day and I can't believe the little people that I spent all those days with is now gone all day without me!
My youngest is in his second year of preschool now, but the first time I dropped him off last year, I drove home and collapsed in my husband's arms and BAWLED!
I'm so glad her first day went so well! Thankfully my kids have loved school, too!

Rhonda Helms said...

Awwwwww I teared up too. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Katie Salidas said...

Congrats to you both on making it through the first day of Kindergarten.

I'll be doing that in two weeks. My little one starts on the 24th. Eeeep!

Kelly H-Y said...

Ohhhh ... that tugged at my heart! That is just the sweetest story ever ... you both did so good!

Danyelle L. said...

*hugs* It's hard how fast they grow.

Jennifer said...

*Hugs!* You made me tear up reading this. :) It's so crazy to imagine little kids growing up that fast. My little brother starts Pre-K soon, and my mom and I are completely freaked out.

And I just started my junior year of high school, which freaks me out even more than my mom. Time flies.

I'm glad your daughter ended up loving it! :D

Hardygirl said...

This is too sweet!! My kindergardener is not only walking down the hall by herself, she's begging me to let her ride the school bus--with a bunch of older kids. As if!!!


Kimbra Kasch said...

OMG - it brings back memories from nearly twenty years ago when I put my first babe in K-class.

They grow up so fast - cherish these times.

Carrie Harris said...

It all goes so fast, doesn't it? Mine starts kindergarten in a few weeks, although he was in a pre-k program last year, so I kinda cheated.

Kimberly Derting said...

Okay, I already heard this story and I *still* teared up! Beautiful!!!

Stephanie Faris said...

Awwww. My mom said I did that too. I think kindergarten is the first step on their path to becoming independent. But it's a LONNNNG path, so that's the good news!

Kristen, spinning said...

Ah, kindergarten. We start at the end of the month. We have daily conversations that fluctuate madly in content - for her and for me. I still can't believe she's five. Very nice description of how I will feel in two weeks.

Sherrie Petersen said...

I soooo relate to this! I bawled (with several other moms) when my son started kindergarten. He's almost ten now and sometimes I swear it's like I just brought him home from the hospital. How did he get so big?

I love the magic keychain. And it worked =)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

christina - it's tough

lazy writer - me too! :(

Casey - I have a 2 year old so Im holding onto him loner :) it passes befor eyou know it!

Tricia, storyqueen, LMJ - thanks!

Corey - prepare yourself! take tissue.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

heidi - my daughter comes home a buzzing too.

aimee - your frog found me again today.

kelly and rhonda - im serious. and i kept it light. it was a tough day - a long day.

paul - i will not argue with you :)

suzanne - her teacher was sick but still! :)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

danielle, jenna, kelly HY - thanks for hugs :)

quixotic - good luck!

SF - mine too! as if!

kim and carrie - too fast!

KD - seriously?

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

stephanie - i have 13 more years.

spinregina - good luck!

sherry - our little babies grow - no one told me that.

PurpleClover said...

How cute is she?! My daughter starts next year. So scary!

Kelly said...

loving your blog

i always cry the first day of Kindy.... it is a first step to independence, when they rely less on you and more on themselves. Something to be proud of but something is lost that can never be found again....

Lori Calabrese said...

Oh Shelli!

I feel for ya'! I have one more year before my first starts kindergarten and I already get sick to my stomach just thinking about it! Ugh!

All the best,

Katie Anderson said...

This is soo precious! And the pictures are adorable!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

kelly, katie - thanks :)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

purple and lori - its hard but exciting at the same time.

Lisa Schroeder said...

She is adorable! And a very big girl with lots of confidence. You've done a good job, Mom! :)

Crystal said...

Shelli, I know where you're coming from! I felt the EXACT same way when my 6-year-old (then 5) started kindergarten last September. Now, I have to go through it all over again because she starts 1st grade next month at a totally new school for her (the main elementary school--grades 1-4). Her older sister just graduated from there this year so I am familiar with the teachers and so forth. But still . . . this is my baby who's never been with this many kids before . . . it's really hard to let go, isn't it? *Sigh*

So glad your daughter loved it . . . I know that's a big relief for you! :)