The big day has finally arrived - our oldest daughter, M-, started kindergarten this morning. My feelings are ... mixed.
We did all we could to prepare - we attended the orientation, went to the Meet the Teacher event, studied the supply list and went on a mother-daughter shopping trip to find the perfect backpack. I tried to make the last few days uneventful, tried to make sure she was caught up on her sleep, tried to make sure she was ready, tried to make sure I was ready.
Despite all that, this morning went okay at best. M- didn't sleep much last night. She was too excited. Though she was in bed at 7:30, we found her still awake two hours later. She fell asleep shortly after, but was wide awake at 1 a.m. in the bathroom.
What can I do? It concerns me, of course. She's a kid who needs her sleep. I'm terribly worried that she'll be a blithering mess by lunchtime, that the first day assessments won't go well, and the counselors will think she's a remedial student at best because she won't be able to function enough to respond properly, and she will be subjected to an entire school career of not living up to her potential! (Okay, really, I know I'm being overdramatic here).
Then there was the whole school drop off thing. We were told not to make a big deal of the first day - to treat it as a normal day and get them used to their routine. They recommended not bringing the kids to their classroom so they wouldn't get upset. We decided on a happy medium - we would drop her off at the front of school so she could walk in herself (M-'s decision), and then we'd park and meet her in class.
Carpool drop-off was sort of rushed. The carpool woman didn't really help guide her to where she needed to go and I unhappily watched from the back window as my daughter stood uncomfortably alone in front of the school trying to figure out what she was supposed to do. I should have told the woman it was her first day. I should have told M- to go to the front door and walk in.
We assumed there would be volunteers or teachers to guide the new students and there were. They just weren't there when M- came into the lobby (she did eventually make it inside the building). So when we got inside, there she was, all of four-years-old, wandering down the hallway amidst a group of first graders and not having a clue where she was supposed to be.
A counselor did finally find her, around the same time my husband saw her, and M- made it to her classroom, a little more disoriented than we'd hoped she'd be. Meanwhile I was still waiting in the office for my turn to register as a visitor.
I bit my tongue but politely let the office staff know I was unimpressed with their handling of the situation. I finally made it to her class, and she was doing fine, sitting by herself and drawing. My husband said she'd readily walked into the classroom and made herself at home.
We made sure the teacher knew she was excited, but likely tired, gave M- a big hug and told her to have a great day, and left.
On the way out, we spoke to the counselor again, found that she would be the one conducting the assessments, and let her know as well that M- hadn't slept well last night in hopes that she would keep that in mind. The office staff apologized when I went to check out, for the way things had gone.
We will think about M- often today, and wonder how she's doing, whether she's having fun. We wonder, my husband and I, where the time went - I swear it seems like just yesterday that we brought her home from the hospital - and how we got here and where we're going. I will try to make the transition easy for our youngest, who will miss her sister as the routine of school becomes more apparent, and she realizes her constant companion has moved on to bigger things. Most of all, I will just try to remember to enjoy my time with them, take a deep breath, and hope for the best.