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Aug 21

Kindergarten

I was reading to Julie last night, and she had chosen a book called My First Day at School by Nancy Skarmeas.  It’s a perfectly lovely book, about a little boy who’s scared to start kindergarten, and (surprise, surprise) ends up really liking it.

I literally had to work at not sobbing in the middle of it.

It sneaks up on me – mostly, I’m all excited about the first day of school.  I’m mildly worried about Sam, as I always am when he starts a new year.  I’m thrilled to betsy for Jessie. Which mirrors how both of them feel – Jessie is flat out thrilled at the start of seventh grade – she adores school and can’t wait to get back. Sam is mostly excited, but a little bit nervous.

I’m sure that Julie will thrive in kindergarten, I’m not anywhere near as worried about her as I was about Sam when he was this age.  I know that she’ll be nervous and shy on the first day, and there will probably be a few tears on her side at drop off – but I also know that she’s going to be fine.  I know that she’s ready for this – academically, she’s SO ready to throw herself into school, and socially, it’ll be great for her to be in a classroom with a bunch of other kids her own age.

So it’s not worry for her – it’s just me.  My baby is going to kindergarten, and as I type that sentence, I feel misty and sentimental all over again.

I have been so focused on how much EASIER it’ll be once she’s in school.  How much easier her transition to be, because she hasn’t had me at home with her all summer (okay, yeah, maybe I am crying a little bit – because what the hell was I thinking, going back to work and missing out on this time with her?).  She’s my last little baby – and the idea that she’s big enough to go to to school freaks me out just a little bit.

Julie is my third baby.   It doesn’t get any less momentous or amazing.  It doesn’t get any less hard to kiss her goodbye and send her out into the world.  Yes, yes, I know… she’s not going out in the world really.  She’s just going to kindergarten.  But the reality is that she’s always had me (or her dad, or a brother or sister…) as a buffer between her and the rest of the world.  She’s going to have relationships with people I don’t know, interactions I know nothing about.  She’s going to grow up more this year, in a lot of ways, than she has since she was born.

So I get a little misty.  Not sad, precisely.  Not delighted either.  A combination of both, plus a general awareness that time keeps marching on… and while the future is bound to hold all kinds of exciting things, and truly, the alternative is unthinkable – I’m emotional as hell about the fact that my baby girl will be starting school in a week.

Now I just have to hide it from her.   Because if I cry, even once, it’ll scare the bejeezus out of her.  I stay endlessly upbeat and encouraging.  I’ll wait until she walks away to let the tears come.

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