Rooney's first day of kindergarten
I seem to have more intense emotions the night before my kids' milestones than the day-of. For instance, the night before my kids' birthdays I am always stalling putting them to bed, knowing that the next time I see them they will be another year older. The night before kindergarten was no different.
After she fell asleep, Eric and I snuck into her room to watch her sleep, and then we went to our bedroom to pray for her. Eric reminded me that she didn't know anyone in her class. I did not expect the flood of emotions that came after that. It honestly reminded me of the first night we brought her home from the hospital and everything felt so unknown.
Will she make friends? Will she ask for help when she needs it? Will she tell anyone if she needs to go to the bathroom? Does her school have automatic toilets or hand dryers (which she is terrified of)? What if she can't open her milk carton? What if she falls and hurts her collar bone again? Should I have held her back another year? Is it too late to homeschool?
Now, homeschooling has never been a serious option for us (we both work outside the home), but for some reason that night—in the midst of my fear—it popped into my brain as the safer option that I should reconsider. I was pretty irrational, and only slightly comforted by the fact that her arm was in a sling so surely someone would ask her if she needed help in the lunchroom. In reality, I know she's not alone (none of the other kindergarteners have done this before, either) and that the school staff would be patient and helpful.
Our school district does transition days for kindergarteners, so the first two days are half days (late start and early dismissal). It was nice to have a slow morning to get ready and take some photos. When the time got closer, Rooney said, "Mom, do you think I'm ready?" Her biggest fear was missing the bus. She might have been asking if she was physically ready, but of course I took her question a completely different way. I teared up, and deep down I knew it was time for her to go. She has been asking about the day she could get on a bus and go to kindergarten for years. I mean look at her! She is ready!
One of the kids at our bus stop is in Rooney's class, so it was nice to introduce them and for me to know that they had each other. The bus came and we met her driver, Mike, who's really nice (he keeps peppermints in a bowl that the kids can take at the end of the day, which Rooney loves). She asked me for one last hug and then confidently walked onto the bus (and sat right next to her new friend, even though the rest of the bus was completely empty!).
Finch was so sad he didn't get to ride the bus, too, but he and I got in the van and drove to her school so we could see her get off the bus and walk into school. I'm glad I was able to be there and see her do that. It was fun to meet other parents, too, and know we were all going through the exact same thing. I said goodbye without tears, knowing I would see her soon.
Just four hours later, she somehow came home a whole year older ... or so it seemed! As soon as she got off the bus, she was telling me cute stories of her day. Her favorite part was lunch (walking tacos, pineapple and chocolate milk), but she didn't have time to eat it all. The hardest part was getting her milk carton open (but she got help). I asked her if she wanted to go back, and she said, "I wish it was every day, twice a day" and that it was a lot of work: "Sit down, stand up, sit down, stand up."
I will say that kindergarten exhaustion is a very real thing. Another parent likened starting a new school year to starting a new job, which totally resonated with me. The first day of a new job is always tough for me (I always cry at the end of it, for some reason). It just takes a while to figure everything out and get to know people.
I honestly really enjoy having her in school, and she is absolutely loving it. The transition has gone as smooth as it possibly could, and her school and teacher are wonderful. My only fear is that every year is going to fly by and soon she'll be a senior and I'll have no idea how it happened. I'm so proud of her. She had a great first day, which meant I did, too.