Lucas is a big kindergartener!
Yesterday was the first day of school. And my son, Lucas, has been counting down the days until his first day of kindergarten. This is a huge step away from preschool, as most parents know who have 5 year olds. Preschool is a time of innocence and fun, when most of the day is spent in constructive play, but play nonetheless. Kindergarten, there is more structure.
I picked up Lucas yesterday after his first day. He saw me, and asked if he was riding the bus home. I told him no, as the kindergarteners do not get bus rides home. He immediately started to cry. And he found several more things to cry about. We got to the car, buckled up, and he hurt his finger and started to cry. I pulled over, as we were already moving, and opened his door. And I just gave him a huge hug and told him that everything was going to be ok. He was overwhelmed. He ended up falling asleep on the way home.
This morning, he woke up with a smile. “Today’s the second day of kindergarten, Mom!” We got dressed, ate breakfast, packed lunches, and went to the bus stop. I met him at school again, as the teacher wants parents to help the kids the first week so they can get settled into a routine. Summer walked him to class, as will be this year’s routine, and then went off to her class. Once again, Lucas was a basket-case. He wanted to play, but we had the usual morning routine to get through. After we got the routine done, the second bell rang, and Lucas did not have time to play. He wanted to continue to color when it was time to sit down. He wanted a drink of water. He wanted to play with the Legos. He did not want to cleanup and sit on the floor mat. He cried like his heart was broken. I held him, told him it was going to be ok. I commiserated that it must be hard, with so much responsibility as a big kindergartener. I finally got firm with him and told him that he had to put everything away and sit on the rug, for he needed to follow the school rules. He couldn’t find a place on the rug, and was a little frantic, before finally settling in. When I waved goodbye, he hid his head so he couldn’t see me.
I felt rotten.
I walked away from his class with dread in my step and my eyes misting up. Here he is, in a class full of strangers and a strange new routine. Yesterday had been so confusing to him: he didn’t remember where his cubby was, he accidentally ate his lunch at snack time….. I’m sure that he felt a little lost today. And I felt lost having him in new surroundings, and I felt like I was abandoning him, even if kindergarten is a necessary stage in life. I wanted to protect my baby.
I got almost all the way to my car when I realized that I had forgotten my keys in the classroom. Shoot, he’s going to see me walk in there, and start crying all over again. I trekked back over there and quietly opened the door. He saw me, but his focus was on the teacher and what she was doing. She was telling the story of the old lady who swallowed a fly. And he was actively participating by answering questions enthusiastically. I got my keys and headed for the door, spying on him the whole way. When I left, he hardly even noticed my presence. Not out of anger, but out of being too busy with his class.
It was exactly what I needed to be able to leave him with a lighter heart.
I really do believe that certain things happen on purpose, and for a reason, even small ones like forgetting keys. I always put my keys in my pocket. I had plenty of pockets to choose from, and my purse too. Instead, I laid them on the counter and left them. If I hadn’t left them, I would have been sorrowful all day because of how I had originally left Lucas. I would have assumed that he would have been miserable all day.
I am still a little misty over Lucas being in such a new place. New places are no fun without someone familiar to hold our hand and let us know that at least one person is on our side. I know that he will probably be a little overwhelmed again today, but the routine will sink into place. I will be helping him every morning this week, beating the bus there and helping him to remember where to put his jacket and backpack, to put his lunch and snack in his cubby, and all the other things that he must do on his own in the morning. But this growth is good for the two of us. And it’s survivable.