My baby started kindergarten today. I've dreaded this day for at least five and a half years now.
He started his day off in winning form. He refused to wear the new red polo shirt I bought him (the very one he wanted when we were at the store). He refused to wear a different polo shirt, and he finally settled on a too-small old t-shirt with a picture of a motorcycle on it. He picked on his sister and pushed her down on the sidewalk causing her to cry because her new skirt now had dirt on it. My husband and I stood at the bus stop with them and gave hugs and kisses goodbye. If my son was nervous, he didn't show it. He walked right up onto the bus and never looked back.
I had fought back tears all morning. My neighbor came up to me after the bus left, and we chatted for awhile. I did some yard work. I came in the house and helped my husband get ready for a trip. I sat and drank coffee and read the newspaper uninterrupted. Every once in awhile, I'd stop and pick up a truck or a toy sword off the floor, and felt a pang of sadness that my little guy wasn't hanging around me asking to go to the park or play a game or read a book. I always thought I needed to do more things with him one-on-one, but in reality, we did quite a bit together.
I had volunteered to help the kindergarteners in the cafeteria at lunchtime. My little guy saw me all the way across the cafeteria and gave me a huge smile and waive. I am so happy that I helped out today. Quite a few of these little ones were scared stiff. Several were in tears. They had no idea how to put in their lunch code, how to take silverware or napkins, and they didn't know where to sit or where anything was. I watched my son sitting with his best friend - who happens to be in the same class - eating his pizza dippers. He was chatting up a storm. He even engaged the principal in conversation about the food. I helped the kids take their trays to a cart, empty them and put the silverware and trays in a stack. One little boy dumped the contents of his tray on my right shoe. My shoe will probably smell like pears for awhile. One little girl walked up to me and said she was done and pointed to her tray on the table. I told her she had to bring it up to the cart, and she looked at me in complete surprise. She brought the tray up to me and held it out and smiled. I had to show her how to do the whole process. (I feel very sorry for whoever her maid is.) Several of the little ones knew me from my son's preschool, and they seemed relieved to see a familiar face.
My son went out to the playground without ever saying goodbye to me. I thought about how he is the complete opposite of his sister. I could only go eat lunch with my daughter a couple of times a year because she would cry and put up a fuss when I would leave. I thought about how independent he has always been. He took his first few steps toward me, and then he's walked away from me ever since. I watched him on the playground for a minute and then went to sign out at the office and leave. He was fine.
Now I'm hanging out at home, putting on music and dancing around just because I can. No one is here. There are still pangs of sadness, but there's a feeling of freedom too. I had looked forward to this time. Finally, time to clean out closets, cupboards, basement, etc. However, now I find myself as busy as ever with volunteering at the school. I've even taken training to be (gasp) a Sunday School teacher at our church. I can just see several of you falling off your chairs as you read this. I know, it's an odd vocation for someone who is as fond of the F-word as myself, but I think I may have a lot to learn from these little ones (I'm teaching the kindergarten-age kids).
And right now, I'm hanging around waiting for the time when the bus comes and brings my kids back. I've got eyes as dry as marshmallows and a headache from crying this morning. I could run errands, but I've decided to stay in the house today. You know, the school might call me for some reason . . .