D was less than lighthearted on the morning she began preschool at our church. She was not quite three years old, and she would have much rather stayed home with me. I, however, very seriously needed some time apart from my darling child. It was just three mornings a week, the perfect break, I was sure. D was hesitant and apprehensive when I dropped her off. But she was stoic enough not to cry.Three hours later, when I returned to pick her up, she was a different kid altogether: cool and confident to the point of cocky. My parents, who were visiting, found it hard to believe the change. It was difficult to say which child we preferred, the meek or the bold, as both were extremes. Fortunately, she eased into a middle ground after a few weeks of the routine.
The first day of Kindergarten followed a similar script. D did not like the thought of going to school EVERY SINGLE DAY, even though it was still only a few hours; all-day Kindergarten is a recent development in our area. H and I hadn’t gotten used to the idea of daily school for our daughter, either. This was the morning we both cried as we waved to our brave but butterfly-filled baby on that big yellow bus. (See my earlier post, Moving Up to Middle School, October 2011.)
The daughter that hopped off the bus, just before noon, was, once again, boldly self-assured.
On the first morning of first grade, it was the longer hours that had us all somewhat concerned. How would D cope with nearly a full day away from her Mama, away from home? She would eat lunch in that loud and crowded cafeteria, and she was so little! How would I manage with her being gone?
Turns out, we were both OK. D was more tired, and therefore not quite as full of herself as she had been on those earlier first days. But she had learned that this school stuff wouldn’t be all that bad. She could take it in stride, the ups and the downs. I would usually manage to do so, as well.
It’s reassuring to reflect on these early firsts, to remember how our family adjusted to the new school year’s changing circumstances.
But the look back also reminds me that the future is unpredictable and unknowable. The day that followed D’s first day of preschool was September 11, 2001.