Monday, August 29, 2011

Opening day

It wasn't even the real first day, not the way her new school does things. It was Meet and Greet, a chance for students to find their classrooms and then their lockers; and for she and the lovely husband and I to meet her teachers.

Teachers. Two of them. They co-teach all day long, two of them together with only seventeen students. That's a good ratio of love::attention for a skittish girl like our E.

She left the house gamely enough.

But when we got to kindergarten, she wouldn't enter the class.

You guys, this is about the nicest school I've ever seen, far better equipped and staffed than anything I ever attended. And we ran into at least a half-dozen family friends before we got to her classroom door. And in her class, we found a boy she's known since she was less than a week old, and two new friends from carefully curated play dates held in the past week. We'd done everything we could to make a safe setting for her.

My sweet girl, it was still too much for her.

Eventually, she went inside, of course. We sat in circle time and sang their welcome song. I said E's words when the circle came around to her spot. We listened to a storybook and found her locker and her mailbox and inspected the just-for-kindergartners playground.

She wouldn't let go of me.

After all the other families left, her amazing, patient, unflappable, warm teachers together gave us a private tour of the building. We met the art teacher and E's gym teacher. We spent some more time talking. We left E willing to look at her new teachers, and speak while looking at the ground. It's a start.

But tomorrow is the real First Day of School. Mommies and daddies don't stay tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll walk her to her classroom door and say goodbye. I'll give her a quick kiss and turn away. Tomorrow--

--you guys, it's not going to go well.

Here's the thing. I believe in her. I want you to know that. I believe she will thrive in kindergarten, and indeed in all her years at this school. I believe she is bright and capable and all-around wonderful. And I believe we've prepared her the very best we could.

And I remember being a terrified-shy kindergartner at the beginning of the school year, and I know that she has to adjust at her own pace, and her pace in this regard is slower than most kids, and it's hard to be the kid having the slow adjustment.

And it's hard to be the mommy observing and simultaneously reliving the slow adjustment.

I bought a necklace that I'm going to give her before we leave the house tomorrow morning.

It's a heart that stamped on the inside with the words, "I CAN DO ANYTHING." It's a symbol of our love for her and our faith in her, an amulet to wear around her neck in place of the arms I can't keep forever wrapped around her.

It's not enough, of course, but I'm really hoping it helps.

Wish us luck tomorrow.
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