Mini-Marli has been looking forward to kindergarten for months, bouncing around chattering happily about all the friends she’s going to make and the things she’ll learn. She was over the moon when we went shopping for her school supplies, and insisted on sleeping with her new Disney Princesses backpack for a few nights.
As The First Day Of School approached, she began to show signs of nervousness. “I can’t go to school, Mom,” she said one day, looking pitiful. “I can’t read yet.”
I assured her that she would learn to read in kindergarten. She cheered up a little bit, but the increasing frequency of questions over the next few days indicated that she was starting to get a little scared.
So. Yesterday morning was the big day. I got off work at 7:30 and rushed home; her Daddy had dressed her, brushed her, and fed her, so all it remained for me to do was take a million pictures of my baby in her new haircut and shoes and drive her to school. She sat very quietly in the back seat, with her backpack containing her kindergarten folder and Blanky next to her. (Blanky has been a member of our household since mini-Marli was born. I sometimes wonder how much it’s going to cost to send Blanky to college with her.)
She held tightly to my hand as we walked into the school. At the front door one of the teachers greeted us with a large tiger puppet. I felt mini-Marli relax a little bit, and I could almost hear her thinking, “Oh, good. They have puppets. I like puppets. This could be good.” We walked down toward the kindergarten end of the building, passing a few mothers headed back out towards the parking lot with tears in their eyes. Outside one of the first grade classrooms a small boy had his father’s knees in a death-grip and was screaming at the top of his lungs, “I don’t wanna go! I wanna stay with you!” Mini-Marli looked up at me. “I don’t think he wants to go to school,” she said solemnly. “I think you’re right,” I said.
We found her classroom and went inside. A few kids were already there, checking out the blocks and books, writing their names, talking. And mini-Marli looked around, heaved a big satisfied sigh, dropped my hand like it was a dead fish, and took off.
“Um…bye, honey,” I said, startled, but she was across the room looking for her cubby and didn’t hear me. The teacher told me I could stay for a couple of minutes, and I did, hovering around my daughter, but she was too busy to pay much attention to me. Which is as it should be, I know, but still…
I headed back to the parking lot with tears in my eyes and went home.