And so it begins.
I sent my daughter to kindergarten today. Sure, the morning started out with happy smiles and lots of shouting, but the closer we got to school, the quieter she became. Our neighbor’s daughters walked with us, and my daughter switched back and forth between Daddy (holding up the rear with a coffee cup) and Mommy (leading the procession with the stroller.) There was more hand-holding this morning than at a fifth-grade dance. She was brave and did not cry. (Neither did I, although my husband did have a somewhat suspicious allergy problem.) She didn’t smile, but she didn’t cry. Once the children went indoors, the parents rushed to the windows like tourists at a zoo to see how the little people behaved. I watched as my daughter found her cubby and coat hook, found her spot at the (severely overcrowded) table, carefully analyzed each person already sitting at it, then sat down. She looked outside, blew me a wave and a kiss, and then seemed to dismiss me from her mind entirely.
The drop-off was immediately followed by a welcome PTA tea. There were no familiar faces, excluding one: the mother with the ugly kids about whom I have previously written (http://thepantlesswonder.blogspot.com/2010/05/ugly-duckling.html.) Karma is a bitch. Otherwise, the environs and fellow participants were as unfamiliar to me as they were to my child. There were, of course, the usual stereotypes: the parent who already declared that she does not give her child flu shots (and thank you for giving me even more reasons to get my child vaccinated), the pregnant mom, the anxious grandparents, etc. Then there were a few new ones: the visibly and numerously tattooed, the hangover helmet, and the too-short leopard print dress (and that one was on a child.) Toto, we are not preschool anymore. Obviously, I have nothing against the tattooed (having some myself), tying one on, or animal prints (as long as I’m not wearing them), but it being the first day of school and all, I sort of expected all the kids (and parents) to be scrubbed and wearing their best. One child looked like he had been slapped awake just minutes prior and was still wearing yesterday’s clothes. Obviously, I’m being a judgmental be-yotch here as everyone with a small child knows that fighting over clothes is a losing battle, but a little cold water and a brush never did anyone any harm.
Strangely enough, it is her brother who seems the most upset at the change in routine. The victim of her crimes, the tortured and abused younger child was really sad this morning. He screamed, he cried, he refused to put on his shoes, and kept asking where she was going. After the PTA tea (where no tea was served) he wanted to know why we were leaving his sister behind. He was one very unhappy child. However, once we arrived back home and he realized it was just the two of us, he cheered up considerably. I’m sure he’ll be even happier when he realizes that his naptime is all but forgotten as well as his sister’s pick-up time cuts directly into it. Lose one kid, gain the other.
And so, I don’t have to pick up my daughter until almost three o’clock in the afternoon. Even her longest day at preschool was two-hours shorter than her first day of kindergarten. I can't wait to hear all about her day and her new friends. It's a toss-up if she'll go stealthy and silent, keeping everything to herself as she processes it all, or if she goes wide and loud and not only tells me every detail, but insists on calling both sets of grandparents and her father to share as well. Also up for debate is whether she is excited about returning tomorrow. Only time will tell - lots and lots of time. Hours and hours of it before she's back home with me. I bet she'll get used to it quicker than I will.