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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

it's here: the Big K - 1st day of Kindergarten!

Well, we did it!
We got through the first day of Kindergarten!
Emotions are all over the place...

We started out yesterday by repacking his backpack about 15 times. It was adorable. He had something for every single pocket. I think this was part of his own process for preparing for school... totally cute.

We then gave him a 1st Day of School present. He loved it! Little items that he could use in his backpack or for school.

We then picked out his first day outfit last night. I had the idea for an adorable Gymboree matching outfit of blues and greens and whites, classic, handsome, totally sophisticated and school-like. There were dogs in the plaid shorts! I begged him to just wear one nice outfit the first day, then I would go back to not caring what he wore. He agreed.

Fast forward to the first morning jitters, I guess we'll call it. Nope... off went the adorable shorts and matching shirt. On went his compromise with me: OK fine, he'd wear khaki shorts, but that was IT. he was putting his foot down, literally, and wearing his Batman socks (which honestly I thought were totally cute so it worked out).

Lesson #1 with Kindergarteners: Let things go. It doesn't really matter, does it? Pick your battles. Let him be happy, in charge. It's all good.

This morning I felt great. Super excited about this day, not succumbing to the nerves or worries like I'd been the last few weeks. We had breakfast, got dressed, and headed outside for pictures of our big kid. All was right with the world. A beautiful September morning, sunshine, happy boy, proud parents, psyched sister.

Look at how adorable and little he actually looks with that big backpack!

So tall! Our boy is growing up... I kept thinking that in my head.

He chose to ride with Dad to school instead of me. I was preparing for this, as we've told him now I don't drop him off anymore, Dad will. I didn't get upset. It was exciting, really. They get to have new morning adventures. I love it.

We arrived early to take some pictures before anyone got there, take our time. I'm so glad we did this. It was great to just relax and be together in this new place, instead of rushing and getting around cars and busses. 

I love this picture. I'll frame it and keep it forever.

I felt SO proud in this moment. So, very proud of our boy. So proud of US, too. Me and my husband. We got him here. 

We didn't do it alone. We have a surgeon who delivered him to thank first, and a pediatrician who's kept him healthy over the years. We have a wonderful babysitter and several preschool teachers who helped out. We have tons of grandparents and family members who led us in this positive direction, too. We did not do it alone... but we did it.

I felt SO proud of us today. We are parents. We are doing this parenting thing. We've done it for 5 1/2 years, and we apparently did a good job so much so our son is ready for school. What a great feeling! What an accomplishment! 

So we walked around outside taking pictures. We stopped inside to meet before care staff briefly. We stood outside meeting new friends and parents, chatting about how this was our first child heading to Kindergarten. We stood in the sunshine, waiting and waiting... for the moment when he'd head off into the world of Kindergarten.

He met up with his teacher and stood in a circle with his new friends, several whom we recognized from sports this past spring and summer, yay! Then it was time. The teacher took his hand and led him to the line. He went happily. I went over a few moments later and gave him a kiss, wished him a great day.

And it happened.

My boy turned into a teenager right then and there, standing in the Kindergarten line!

He brushed me off. "Mom, stop, Mom!" brushing me away. Too cool in front of his buddies to kiss his Mama. This hasn't happened before. I was not prepared for it, but I laughed it off. Dad got a high five, no hug. Crazy town.

The line started moving. I was smiling, totally fine. Ready. I was waiting for this moment...

The kids started waving to their parents, modeling after their teacher. My son waved back at us, huge grin on his face. Right there. I could feel the goosebumps, the tears forming, but I held strong.

They kept walking toward the building, away from the parents. As he got closer to the door I saw my boy, my baby, the one who I was worried would not be ready to go to school, the one for whom I was the one actually not ready myself... I saw him smiling, laughing with his head back and huge grin on his face, hanging out with new friends. Totally happy. Totally comfortable. READY.

Right there I cried... at first, happy tears, for a split second, very happy tears. Proud tears. "He has friends already! He is happy! This is good!" I said in my head.

And then a second later... seeing him walking through the doors to the school, not looking back at me or Dad. Not looking back... that's what got me. He was so ready he didn't even look back at us. I burst into tears... streaming down my face... my husband put his arm around me, reassured me this is what we wanted, this is great actually, he's good, he's brave, he's just fine, he's ready.

I was sobbing... knowing all of it to be true: he IS ready. He IS fine. I'll be fine, too. But right now, seeing my boy walk away, I'm not fine. I'm sobbing like a sappy mother, and I'm OK with that.

I have been wondering when it'd really hit me. Would I cry all the night before? Would I sob on the ride to the school? Would I hold him too tight and not want to let go when dropping him off into the teacher's care? How would I react? I knew I'd cry, of course, I'm an emotional Mama, yes, I'd cry... but I didn't know when that moment would be.

For me, it was the last moment, the one where he was heading off into the world, brave, bold, courageous, and ready to learn. It was a bittersweet moment, I believe.

It's what we want, right? We want our little ones to grow up and to learn new things, to be ready to flourish in the world of education and socialize with new friends. It's our whole goal. To realize, though, that you've reached this goal, it's scary and sweet all in one. It's hard to digest. And it's exhilarating, too. 

The rest of the day I did OK. I kept the tears to a minimum. I made a few other moms cry though retelling the story of my boy heading off into the building... moms, we totally relate to one another, don't we? We get it. It's a beautiful thing, the Mom Bond. I'm so grateful for all the mom friends who checked in via text, email, calls, etc.

And then after school, my boy was SO excited. He told me he was busy playing Legos when I picked him up at after care! He walked out with me eventually and said "Mom, I think I'll go back there tomorrow." Good! This is good! He talked nonstop for 15 minutes outside the car in the parking lot all about his big day. So many great things ("RECESS! Do you know what recess is, Mom? You don't even have to take naps here! Just play outside for recess!").

Things were great. We celebrated by swimming in the grandparents' pool. A great after the first day evening.

I tucked him into bed, like every other night.

Yet for some reason, he looks a little taller. He looks wiser somehow. He looks like he knows things.

And that's beautiful.

Tonight... well, I'm emotional. Again. Yes, we survived, and now I know tomorrow and the tomorrows after that will be much easier. I'm glad we're past that first hurdle. It's going to be a great year.

But tonight... I watched all of his baby videos and sobbed my eyes out, remembering. Those tiny feet and busy moving arms, reaching out to me from a baby chair. How little he used to be, enough to fit into a baby carrier on my chest. How he'd have sweet potatoes strewn across his face and giggle at me. Or how he'd play with his Yo-Baby yogurt on his high chair and I'd never care about the mess, because it was so cute. How he used to say "No, no no no " as a 2 year old. How he would say "Faster!" in between giggles on the swing... the swing at the playground where now he goes to Kindergarten. The swing we've gone to since he was at least 18 months old.

Where did time go? It's cliche... but it's true. Where does it go? How did we get here? 

I'm not really sure. I guess amidst bottles and sleepless nights, diaper changes and toys everywhere, hugs and boo boo kisses, Halloween costumes and Easter egg hunts, along with pick ups and drop offs and soccer practice and swim lessons... somehow we're here. In Kindergarten. Starting a grand adventure. 

And I can't help but think, sure, it's emotional. I'm sad. A part of me is very sad, my baby is really growing up. It's hard to embrace that idea fully, and there is something so real about it being so when they head to Kindergarten.

Yet there is a larger part of me SO incredibly proud and happy right now.

We're going to do this. We raised a newborn, infant, toddler, preschooler. We raised him to be ready for Kindergarten. We can surely raise a little boy to grow into a bigger boy and a man someday. We've got this. This first step, we can do this. Kindergarten, here we come!

"Can I sail through the changing ocean tides? 
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Oh, I don't know.
Well, I've been afraid of changing
'cause I built my life around you. 
But time makes you bolder,
children get older,
and I'm getting older, too."
-Fleetwood Mac, "Landslide" 

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