Olivia started kindergarten on Wednesday and I know I said I wouldn’t cry but I wanted to confess right off the bat that I actually cried, not once, but twice.
At Olivia’s new school children and their parents are to arrive at 8:20 followed by parents engaging their kindergartener in some pre-class reading time. After this reading session the teacher usually gives some announcements and parents then leave until pick-up. I’m not sure how a pregnant mother of three is supposed to take her new kindergartener into a classroom at 8:20 am when her three-year-old doesn’t start preschool until 9 am and her 15-month-old doesn’t want to sit in her stroller? How that mother manages to maintain sanity with three children wandering around is something I hope I’ll soon figure out.
We decided to walk to school, which I was so excited about. I had always wanted to be within walking distance to my children’s school and now that I am it was so fun for me to think about walking my daughter to school on her first morning of kindergarten. As we left the house, we ran into our neighbors who have a first grader in Olivia’s class.
As we all headed out together I instantly felt bad because as soon as my girls saw them, they all became so excited our calm morning walk on the first day of school became stressful as the other mom and I tried to get the kids to stop running and to cross the street with us so they wouldn’t get hit by a car. I later texted her to apologize for possibly ruining what she had envisioned for their first walk to school on her son’s first day of first grade. She didn’t really acknowledge that apology but she did text me back to report that Olivia seemed comfortable after I left, which was nice.
After we got to kindergarten there was much excitement in the air. Parents and students alike were buzzing with first day energy. Pictures were being taken. Moms and Dads were smiling. Then there was me, probably looking really freaked out to everyone around me (I was praying my butt off). Once we made it inside the classroom, Raquel and Georgia wanted nothing to do with me. They each took off in separate directions making it near impossible for me to sit with Olivia and read. She happily found her cubby, her mailbox, and I did manage to point out the bathroom (which we were instructed to help them find upon entry that morning).
When I saw that this wasn’t going to be easy, I told Georgia that we would have to head over to her preschool classroom soon. I helped Olivia get to a table where some little girls were coloring and she sat down without much trepidation and joined right in. I wished her well and told her I’d see her later and then I set out to grab Georgia and Raquel and head out. But Georgia was nowhere to be found. I asked a couple of parents who know us if they saw her and even made my way into the next classroom to look for her. No Georgia.
Then I headed out across the elementary school campus looking for her and praying that she didn’t bust into anyone’s classroom. I half expected someone to come escorting her out saying, “Whose child is this?” But nope.
I got all the way to Georgia’s preschool, which luckily is just on the other side of the elementary school, and peered inside the window. There was Georgia happily pestering her preschool teacher, the first child of the day to arrive. I was furious with her and went in mommy guns blazing. I scolded her for not staying with me and for scaring me to death but then it struck me that I didn’t want to scold her much more than that because after all she did hear me say we were going to preschool. She just had taken it upon herself to go without me. I was also keenly aware that she went straight there and that her preschool classroom was a safe place for her to go if she ever got lost on that campus.
So as I left school having survived the first day drop-off, I was hit with my first set of tears. I felt sad that my experience of dropping off my daughter for her first day of kindergarten wasn’t what I had hoped it would have been. It was stressful. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t get an opportunity to take many pictures there and I was feeling a wee bit sorry for myself. Ultimately I was grateful that both my older girls were safe and sound in their classrooms and that Olivia was fine with me leaving. But there I was tearing up.
Then later that day I felt like I had wanted to do something special to commemorate Olivia’s first day and I had been thinking about giving her a necklace that my mom gave me when I was little. I had saved it all these years and it was very special to me. It has a little picture of Hello Kitty on it and it says “Lots of Love & Happiness”. Can you believe that cat is still in vogue all these years later? I didn’t want to give it to her at first because kids lose stuff but I figured what the heck it is just a silver necklace, it’s value is more sentimental than monetary.
So I picked up the ballerina jewelry box at Heebee Jeebee that Olivia had a major meltdown over not being able to get months ago. I then found an old chain to put the pendant on and made sure the hoop on the pendant was nice and secure. I placed the necklace inside the box and wrapped it up for her for an afterschool surprise.
That was when I was hit by a second wave to tears. Reflecting on the fact that I was once a little girl who’s mother gave her that same necklace as she started school made me feel so happy and proud of my little Olivia. My little baby is in kindergarten now and I can’t believe how fast she’s grown.
After school I presented her the necklace and box and she was so excited. She was so happy to see the jewelry box that she had fallen in love with and she loved the necklace that I gave her. I told her that her Nana had once given it to me and she should take good care of it. Who knows maybe it will survive long enough to be given to her little girl someday?
So, this week has been a big one. We had a major transition in our home and I am one tired momma. Having been hit by many emotions, changes, and walking back and forth to school several times (my calves hurt), I am happy to have joined the ranks of parents with children in elementary school. Long after my tears had subsided, I felt lucky to have such wonderful children who keep me on my toes and keep me guessing. When they finally went to sleep after Olivia’s first big day, I smiled as I could hear that jewelry box quietly whispering Swan Lake into Olivia’s kindergarten-filled dreams.