The day we’ve long been anticipating arrived today: The first-ever day of school for the first child in our family.
Yes, I’m still crying.
Ryan took the day off work so we could make it a special day for Lydia — or more accurately, so Mama could get some support. It’s a funny thing, this first-day-of-kindergarten business. Lydia has been naughtier than naughty for the whole summer, with her naughtiness reaching new heights each day the closer kindergarten drew near. I couldn’t wait for her to be gone.
And then today, I couldn’t bear to let her go.
She had her backpack on 20 minutes before it was time to walk out the door. We took pictures, went potty, looked at pictures on the phone, brushed teeth, stood around, and wasted time for 20 long minutes. The moment finally arrived, and our little family of four loaded into the van.
I took my time, surprised to be feeling butterflies fight to be king of the mountain inside my tummy. When I arrived at the van, Lydia was buckled in, her nearly-empty backpack still attached to her back, a big grin on her face.
As we drove the five-minute distance, I quietly cried while Ryan pressed all the buttons in the van and discussed his sadness over the absence of hover boards on our streets.
“Really, we expected them by the year 2000,” he said. “Where are they? It’s 2013.”
I asked him if he was even a little sad.
“Of course I am,” he replied, wondering why I would ask such a ridiculous question.
We all cope in our own ways, I’m learning.
As we neared the school, Lydia announced, “I’m kind of nervous, but I’m really excited too. I can’t wait for recess.”
Once we arrived, we noticed several other kindergartners being walked to the playground by their parents. Lydia looked at me and quietly said, “Mommy, I want to hold your hand.”
Absolutely, my dear.
We helped her find her line, and directed her to stand in it.
“Daddy, will you please stay?” she whispered.
Then, in what I can only assume to be the worst cruelty of all cruelties, a small woman with an incredibly tall voice shouted, “PARENTS! ALL PARENTS NEED TO MOVE OVER THERE!” And she pointed to an area that was not even close to touching distance of our tiny 5-year-old.
I assumed we would still be allowed to walk our teeny munchkin to her classroom, get her settled in her desk, and give one more hug and whisper of encouragement goodbye.
But it soon became clear that wasn’t going to happen. I turned to a mom who looked more seasoned than me. “Are they really not going to let us walk them to their classroom?” I desperately asked her.
She looked me up and down and said, “Is she your first?”
Why, yes. And even though the umbilical cord was cut over five years ago, I was pretty sure there was a tiny thread still connecting us to each other. Thankyouverymuch, small woman with incredibly tall voice and seasoned mother, for cavalierly slicing that thread from my body. It hurt.
Lydia’s teacher walked over to her line and told the children to hug their arms so they could keep their hands to themselves. Lydia obeyed. She then told them to pretend they had a bubble in their mouth and they had to keep it in.
As you can see, she obeyed that direction too.
And then we watched her walk across the threshold of the school, into the portal of a world unknown. She turned and waved one more time, that imaginary bubble still staying put inside her mouth.
And even though Ryan and I wanted to run after her and scoop her up, we closed our mouths, hugged each other and turned and walked off the playground.