My baby Harper had his first day of Kindergarten today. I’ve been talking to him about this day for awhile now, trying to prepare him to the best of my ability, and I honestly think he was ready to go this morning…but, no amount of preparation could have prepared me for the loss I felt when he stepped onto that bus.
I remember being so excited when Zoe went to Kindergarten. I worked at her daycare at the time and Kindergarten just felt like the natural transition from daycare/preschool. She was so ready and eager and I was so young and enthusiastic; it was great for both of us! I got her a special outfit for the day, put her hair into pigtails and took pictures as she waited for the bus, boarded the bus and then when she was seated on the bus. I waved goodbye and then I ran to my car and followed the bus to her new school where I got out and took more pictures! One of her getting off the bus, one as she waited in line to go to her classroom, one of her in her new room…and then all of us parents were kindly asked to leave. I did leave and there wasn’t a trace of sadness in my steps, just a little bounce of pride as I walked away knowing that I’d been successful in getting my kiddo into big kid school. She was happy and I was happy.
Things were a bit different for Landon. He wasn’t a daycare kid but a stay at home with mom kid. He and I were buddies and we spent all of our days together. When he was four he attended a preschool program at one of the high schools. The kids there were great and the program was fun but Landon had a difficult time adjusting and cried at drop off for a very long time. It was hard to leave him each time but I kept bringing him back because the teachers all assured me that he was very happy and active once I was out of sight. When it came time for Kindergarten he cried every day at the bus stop and just like preschool I was told that he was fine as soon as the bus pulled away and I was out of sight. I felt so guilty making him get on that bus every day, but after only a few days he stopped crying and seemed really happy to go to school. There were days that I volunteered at his school and I’d let him ride with me to school instead of taking the bus and he loved that! I think it made him feel special to get to have his mom at school and I loved that. He was happy and I was happy.
Now, here we are again at this monumental occasion and I just didn’t know how things were going to go. Harper kept telling me he was ready and I kept telling him the things he needed to know: Your teachers name is Mrs. MacCreadie. You ride bus 18. You’ll bring your lunch every day and eat it in the cafeteria. You’ll get to play on the playground with kids your own age. You’ll be gone a long time and go to school 5 days a week. Your momma loves you! Your momma loves you. Your momma loves you…
I was a bit manic this morning. When Harper got out of bed I got him going right away; as long as I was busy I didn’t have to think. He got dressed and had breakfast, brushed his teeth and got his shoes on. I packed his lunch and made sure everything he needed was in his backpack. I rechecked his back pack. I went over the things he needed to know. I explained how we’d walk to the bus and he’d get on and I’d wave and then be there to get him off the bus at the end of the day. I checked his bag one last time. And then it was about 7:30am and we didn’t need to leave the house for another 25 minutes.
So, while I was a mess of nerves, Harper pulled out a board game to play. He, Tony and Dakota played a round and I paced. I picked up toys. I checked my email, washed a few dishes, bit my nails. Paced and kept checking the clock.
Around 7:45 I decided we’d better go outside to get our first day photo’s. I printed out a little “first day of Kindergarten” sign for him to hold and outside we went.
I tried one spot but the pictures were coming out dark so I asked him to stand over in the grass a little. He tripped over his own feet and fell into the dewy grass getting his sign wet in the process…it was almost a catastrophe until I remembered that it wasn’t a catastrophe but a slightly damp piece of paper. The adorable little boy was still there and the message was still there.
The walk to the bus felt like it took an eternity. Harper and I held hands all the way to the bus stop and I’m not sure who needed who’s hand more. (Thankfully, Tony was home and he carried Dakota down to the bus. I don’t think I could have done it all alone this morning.) I felt like I was practically dragging him and I’m not sure if I really was or if it was in my imagination. We hadn’t been at the bus stop too long before the bus pulled up. I imagined the bus driver would be kind and say hello and give Harper a little guidance, but none of that happened.
Once the older kids jumped on the bus Harper looked back at me and I grabbed his hand to help him board. I asked the driver if Kindergartener’s were to sit up front and he kind of grunted an “uh-huh” at me. I didn’t do much to ease my fears but I told Harper to just go ahead and sit in the seat behind the driver. He was barely in his seat (and I was barely off the bus) before the driver snapped the doors closed and pressed on the gas…I waved to my baby as they pulled away but I know he couldn’t see me as he was on the opposite side of the bus. Dakota wanted to know why she couldn’t get on the bus and go to school with Harper and she asked when he was going to come back home several times. It was difficult for her too.
I made it all the way home before I let a single tear fall. I didn’t want Harper to see me upset and I didn’t really want Dakota to see it either. I need them to know that they’re okay without me and vice versa, so I saved it till I could cry alone in my bathroom. I knew that I was going to have to keep myself very busy today so that I wouldn’t worry about my little guy all day long. As soon as I came to that conclusion I told Tony we were going to head to the mall for a little while.
We let the little squirt ride some rides and took her to the play area for a bit. She’s getting a little big for playing in the mall play area, but she was so happy to be there! We made a pit stop in the Lego store too and when she saw that little Lego guy she asked me if I had my camera and if I did could I take her picture!
We had lunch at the food court and attempted to get Landon’s phone fixed, (cracked screen) did a little fall clothes shopping and then headed home. I knew that my little miss was going to need a nap since she’d been up so early that morning so I put her in my bed and waited for her to fall asleep while I read.
Around 3:15 we ran out the door and down to the bus stop to get Harper from the bus. We got to the bus stop right as the bus pulled up and I couldn’t wait to see that little guy get off the bus!
I was thrilled that he came off the bus with a big smile! He came running down the steps, gave Dakota a little half hug and then ran straight to me for a big hug and kiss! After I’d hugged him ten times he finally got to run to his dada who was waiting to give him some hugs and kisses and a popsicle. (Dada’s always gotta out do me!)
As we walked home Harper told us a little about what school had been like and he told us that he’d had a fun day. I told him that we’d missed him and he said he’d missed us too. He said it felt like a really long time away from home and that he didn’t get a very long time to play on the playground. He said he got to go to art and he made an apple using torn paper and glue. He said a little boy in his class had cried and that he hadn’t used the bathroom all day. He told me his teacher was nice.
I guess his day went about as well as I could have hoped. I think that I’m going to be okay but I think it’s going to take me awhile to adjust…I think it may actually be easier for Harper than it is for me. I think I’m REALLY going to have a hard time letting Dakota go to preschool…