the first day of school

Today was Lyd’s long-awaited first day of 4 year old Kindergarten.  It’s a morning program, while the 5 year old Kindergarten is an all-day program.  With her October birthday, she’s on the cusp between the two programs, but thanks to her small class size (2 in the 4K, 2 in the 5K), she can get plenty of individualized attention.  Her teacher is more than willing to give Lyd 5K work if she can handle it.

Last night, I dutifully prepared for the Big Day.  Lyd and I picked out what she wanted to wear to school before she went to bed (an old, comfortable, favorite pink dress), and our bedtime story was one I had borrowed from my work about a little boy’s first day at school.  After she was in bed I packed a lunch for her that she and I had decided on: cheddar cheese and strawberry jam sandwich, half a sliced Gravenstein apple, fresh green beans, and one of the cookies we baked yesterday afternoon, with water from her water bottle to drink.  I also assembled all her school supplies together in her old backpack.  (Her new backpack and lunchbox should arrive later this week.)  It felt a little surreal to think that my firstborn, who was only a baby a few weeks ago, was beginning school the next morning.

This morning I managed to get myself out of bed (almost) on time, went in to wake up Lyd, and found her sitting up in her bed playing with her box of barrettes (her new favorite toys), and she said to me happily “I can’t WAIT for school to start!”  I was pretty non-emotional this morning, instead being solely focused on getting Lyd to school on time (which we managed, just barely; she was the last of the 4 kids in her class to arrive – and we live next door!)  We even managed to get her hair done and get breakfast eaten in time.  Score!  We took the requisite “first-day” pictures for posterity.  She didn’t cry or anything; in fact, while walking down to her classroom, she said, “I am SO EXCITED!”  It was very cute.  🙂

Lyd had a blast this morning!  After her first day ended at noon, she stayed to eat lunch with her fellow classmates, and she played outside with the rest of the school kids at recess until they returned to their classrooms around 1:15.  During this time, I went outside to chat with the teachers and hear how Lyd did.  Her teacher, Mrs. H., told me that Lyd had a few pouty moments in the class, but she got over them quickly.  However, the class picture that was taken (and laminated and now is hanging on our fridge) shows a very pouty Lyd with her hands over her face.  🙂  Oh, well.  That’s my picture-hating child!  I’ll be sure to keep that picture in a safe place and embarass her with it at her graduation and/or wedding.  After recess was over, JJ and I walked her home, hand in hand, and we heard her report that she LOVED school!  She was tired out, however.  She’s taking a nap upstairs now; as I’ve decided that a rest/nap will be part of our schoolday afternoon routine, until it becomes apparent that she no longer needs that nap.

How did I REALLY do this morning?  It didn’t feel quite the way I had expected.  As JJ said more than once this morning, “We’re big people now; we’re not just playing house anymore.  We have a kid in school!”  For days now, I’ve been anticipating Lyd’s beginning school for the freedom it will give me, freedom to focus on one thing (during J’s nap) and not be interrupted, nor feel guilty for not doing something with Lyd.  I still am looking forward to that.  I’m coming to accept the fact that I don’t multi-task well, and having Lyd in school is going to be a big help towards finally getting a handle on all the piles and clutter that continue to accumulate in our house.  But what surprised me this morning was how quiet the house seemed.  Even though Curious J did NOT take a morning nap today (not sure what the deal was with that), the house still seemed — different.  When I drove to my chiropractor appointment with the baby, it was strange not to have Lyd in the back seat, asking for Music Together music (which I put on anyway — for the baby).  Or to have Lyd cry out, “Hey, watch it!” when I have to apply the brake firmly (those crazy CA drivers, you know!)  It was just — quiet today.

I did weep a few tears this morning.  Not as I walked her down to her room, not when we took pictures, not when we said goodbye to her after the opening chapel service.  I cried in the car on the way to my chiro appointment, as I listened to the song “Train Is a Comin'” on the new Music Together CD.  In its original form, that song is an old African-American spiritual, and its meaning is along the lines of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot:”

Train is a-comin’, oh, yes.
Train is a-comin’, oh, yes.
Train is a-comin’, train is a-comin’,
Train is a-comin’, oh, yes.

Come along children, oh, yes.
Come along children, oh, yes.
Come along children, come along children,
Come along children, oh, yes.

But as I listened to this wonderful, reflective arrangement, I realized my daughter’s life was moving on, she was getting on that train, so to speak, and it was going on.  I realized that today was the first day of her making a big move toward a life of her own, a life of which I’m not always the main part.  I am SO HAPPY for her, and I know this is just what she needs.  But all the same, it’s the end of a special period in our lives.  That understanding made itself totally clear to me this morning, and I cried at the relentless passing of time as well as thankfulness for the memories she and I have made together.  There’s a little voice in my head that says, “Put this day off!  Homeschool her!”  But I know that, for us, that would be the wrong choice, for many reasons which I won’t go into now.  Suffice to say, I have seen many, many evidences that putting her in school is exactly the right move for her and the right move for our family, but like any big transition in life, it takes some geting used to.

But, lest I get too melancholy and blubbery, I have to remember that my mothering days are FAR from completed with Lyd.  She came home happy, but tired and cranky, too.  She still needs me to take care of her, that’s for sure!

And, thankfully, it’s not as if I am ALL ALONE at home.  I still have darling Baby J.  I am priviledged (and so, so grateful!) to be in the process of doing this whole mothering experience again with her.  I’m already looking forward to J and me doing all the things I used to do with Lyd: Music Together classes, My First Art classes, gymnastics classes, storytime at the library.  With Lyd busy at school, I’ll have time to focus solely on my second daughter, to watch her personality continue to unfold and develop, and to guide her through all the Firsts that are yet in store for her.

It was a good first day of school.  Beginnings and endings — I always knew those were part of life, but somehow I understand them in a whole new way today.  It also makes me appreciate heaven even more, when there will be no beginnings nor endings.  What an amazing place God has in store for his children!  I can’t wait to see what it’s like.  Well, I guess I can wait a while longer if I have to.  My girls still need me here.