The end of another first day.
I read Lainey’s First Day of Kindergarten post the other night, wincing through all the hard parts and waiting for them to get better just like I watch movies I’ve seen countless times, thinking maybe the ending will be different this time. The post hasn’t changed in two years–she still sits on a bench at recess and cries; I still wait outside her classroom door for the bell to ring. Also, Castaway? When Tom Hanks comes back, he still finds his girlfriend shacked up with the dentist.
This year, thankfully, our first day was less dramatic, made easier by experience but doubled in complexity (and prep time!) by sending two off for first days–Lainey to second grade, Nella to preschool. Maybe it’s some sort of overcompensation for the fact that my heart gets a little twisted sending them off, but I was Y2K ready this year. Outfits ironed, bags packed, forms filled out, lunches packed, notes written, fridge stocked, house cleaned. A message to the world: Hey, world. I got this.
We did our thing. Ready early, first day pictures in the driveway, music in the car, hands held in the parking lot and up the sidewalk. They both did great–a few tears, but being the seasoned dropper-offer I am, I knew they’d be fine.
I wasn’t home ten minutes and mom friend texts flew in like air traffic control updates: who cried, who didn’t, pictures of well-dressed smiling kids holding “First Day of ______” signs. This is how it goes. I’m two years in now, but school years are like dog years, so I’ve been doing this for twenty-four years.
With 24 years of experience, I can tell you this: no matter how much they’re smiling, no matter how much you love their teacher, no matter how much they convince you to just go, mom, I’m fine, turn around and don’t even think about asking me for a kiss in front of my friends, you’re still going to leave feeling like you left your own beating heart in a cooler in a classroom, asking someone else to make it thrive for seven hours. Every day.
There’s no doubt our teachers are miracle workers.
As good as it hurts, as bad as it feels good–this is just the beginning. There are years of first days ahead–for them, for us.
Both girls came home beaming today. I watched for the first smile the second I made eye contact with them, and it came soon enough, followed by “they did great” reports from their teachers. We’re in it now, the first day checked off, the rest of the year officially in progress. From here on out–through school, through life–it’s Groundhog Day. Letting go and picking up.
For every first, there’s something good that follows.
Happy days to all those facing firsts this month!