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Writing Motherhood - The First Day of Kindergarten

41yHtGdwW9L._SL160_.jpgVanessa over at Chef Druck is spearheading a fabulous writing exercise on behalf of the book Writing Motherhood by Lisa Garrigues. I read Lisa's book a few months back and it really provided me with some invaluable advice on how to truly capture my life as a parent and put it into words that will keep readers engaged and entertained. So when Vanessa asked if I'd contribute a blog dedicated to our children's firsts, I thought back to a great story about my son's first day of kindergarten. So without further ado, here it is...


The Bracelet

I would have written earlier this week about my kids' first day back to school but I managed to get myself involved in so many projects with my new company, that my musings about daily life weren't that funny this week. In fact, on my son's very first day of kindergarten, he shocked both my husband and I when he was the only kid in the class to start bawling when we both attempted to leave the classroom.

There is nothing more heartbreaking than watching your five year old wail when you attempt to drop him off at a new school. All I kept thinking was he's never going to let me leave - I will never be able to go to work again. I'm going to be parked outside of the classroom until the leaves start changing. I don't know what happened that he's gotten so attached to me, but every single morning he asks the same question. "Mommy, are you going to work today?" For the last five years, I've had to tell him, yes, I'm going to work today. But now, I'm the owner of my own business and work is wherever I want it to be - at home, in Manhattan - even in Los Angeles if I wanted to hop on a plane. But yet, as my son gets more and more stressed when I tell him I'm heading to the city for work, I'm starting to realize that no matter what I do, I need to be there to take him to school, or be home when he walks in the door.

I'm not saying I'm packing it in for SAHM status - I am a worker at heart - but I do want to be there for him and my daughter. I even contemplated volunteering to be a class mother and then thought better of it since I pretty much stink in that area - who the heck wants to get up at 6am to call everyone on a snow day or bake all the cupcakes to sell at an election day bake sale. What I do know is that when a kid is five, they remember everything. I remember when I got left at afterschool by accident when I was his age and I vowed never to do that either of them - no kid gets left behind - except of course when you think they're supposed to be in school for a full day but it's really only a half day, but I digress...

Getting back to kindergarten - while my son held on to my arm for dear life that first day, the little boy next to him broke the ice with some sage advice. He looked straight at my left wrist and said, "Why don't you leave something special with him like your bracelet and then he'll know you have to come back for him?" A very wise thought, except I wasn't about about to slip off my 10th anniversary gift as collatoral just so my son would stop his crying jag. So instead of parting with my tennis bracelet, I fished in my purse and handed him the sherrif's badge we picked out at Rocking Horse ranch last week when he begged me to get him a pair of handcuffs. He still kept crying but eventually, after we gave him the slip, he finally stopped and picked up a marker to draw a picture of himself missing his mommy and daddy.

Thankfully for me, day two was a complete cinch. He marched right in, gave me a kiss and off he went to sit with his new friends. And me - I raced off to catch the 8:48am train, missed my morning coffee, but caught up with my closest gal pals on Metronorth. And then, I raced home early to see how his day went. And thankfully, he had a wonderful time. So while I adjust to starting a new business and Dylan adjusts to being a kindergartener, something tells me that while both of us may have bumps along the way, everything is going to turn out just fine.

Posted in: Blog, Role Mommy Confessions on 09/22/2008

Comments

  • Thank you for that touching story (or stories), it brings back old memories from when I had to drop of my own daughter.

  • Wonderful "firsts" post. I love your idea of leaving something with your son on his first day of kindergarten. What a neat idea.

    Here's my post- also about the first day of kindergarten.

    My first I was going to blog about was when my oldest daughter started kindergarten last month. She never went to daycare or preschool, as I am a stay-at-home mom, so when full day kindergarten was upon us I became a total wreck. I bawled my eyes out for weeks in advance just because I couldn't believe the time had come for my baby girl (she was 2.5 wks away from turning 5 when school started) to leave me. I know it's silly because it was just kindergarten- not college, but it was so bittersweet none the less. I kept seeing her starting kindergarten as the door to her turning 5 and that being the door to her turning 18 and moving away. Wow, big jump there, huh? LOL I know. I know. I couldn't help it though. I'm always an emotional wreck for about a month preceeding her birthday anyways, so topped with the milestone achievement of beginning school it was just too much drama for one little ol' me.

    By the time the first day of school actually rolled around I was absolutely terrified to take my daughter and drop her off. It wasn't that I didn't think she was ready. Quite the contrary, I knew she was ready. And it was that readiness that was bugging the crap out of me because that meant she really was growing up and needed me just that tiny bit less than before. I knew she was going to have an absolute blast at school because for the past 2 years it's all we've heard about. All her friends and cousins were in daycare and/or preschool before entering kindergarten, so she'd already watched all of them go and was desperate to get in on the action. Plus being home with me all the time I was able to really work with her on a pre-k level at home, and by the time she started kindergarten she was doing everything the other kindergarten kids were doing and then some. She's even reading at near a first grade level. So, yes, I knew she'd do great.

    I told myself I wasn't going to cry when I walked her in. I knew I wouldn't be the only one if I did, but the thought of crying in public, no matter how sentimental the reason, was just too embarassing. And since I knew no one there, I didn't want to start the year off as "that mom who bawled". lol I walked her in, gave her kiss good-bye, and sent her on her way. She did great. Then she realized I was really leaving, and it hit her. She came running back to me and became all clingy. I can't remember kindergarten myself, but I can imagine the mix of emotions my daughter was dealing with, because I was dealing with the same ones on the mommy level. I told her I would walk with her to her class (they'd met initially in the gym so the classes could all walk in together incase some of the littler ones didn't know where to go), and so together we walked- her shuffling her feet, and me feeling a huge knot in my stomach.

    Outside her classroom the teacher told all the kids to find the locker with their name on it, and at this my daughter immediately perked up and off she went. It was if the initial totally excited little girl took back over, and she couldn't move away from me fast enough. After she located her locker and put her backpack inside, the teacher told all the kids to go find their seat in their classroom. It was here that I had to say my 'good-bye' again. Amazingly, at this point I had still not shed a single tear since stepping on school grounds. Nearly forgetting to even stop on her way in to the classroom, my daughter made a quick beeline for me. Grabbing a quick hug and tossing an "I love you, mommy!" over her shoulder she was gone. That's when I noticed another class mom begin tearing up as her little one headed off, and that's when my own personal waterworks began. I'd held it together up until that moment, but seeing the other woman's release was just too much for me and simply couldn't help but cry. It was official, my first baby was a big kindergarten girl.

    -RebekahC

    littleminx at cox dot net

    P.S. Okay, I just have to say that I'm again bawling like a baby just recalling this. Oi, mommy emotions! LOL

  • Hi, this is Lisa Garrigues, author of Writing Motherhood. Your story is a classic example of why we need to write about motherhood and why in particular we need to write about firsts. I can bet that although you will always remember your son's first day of kindergarten, you most likely will forget his second! Firsts are so memorable in part because they are hard, and your son's wise new friend came up with a great solution to ease the separation. Thanks for writing. Best, Lisa

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