I saw some kids crying and parents trying to anxiously say ‘goodbye’ when I walked through the school gates. I held my daughter’s hand a little tighter and chattered excitedly in my own nervousness about how our ‘goodbye’ would go.
Amaani’s first day at a real preschool. She did great. Still, I lingered in her classroom for about fifteen minutes. I felt a few reservations about her teachers and classroom setup (it just wasn’t how I pictured it) but she was happy. And then she hugged me and kissed me on the cheek with the biggest smile. I peaked some look-ins from the door and then I left.
Why did I feel like crying? Why did I feel like I was leaving my heart behind in the classroom? Why was I feeling strange to see other kids crying and here, in our situation, the adult (me!) was the one who felt like crying and she was walking and smiling confidently- the excitement so plain on her face!
Maybe it was because although we attended a parent participation preschool for years, this is the first time I was leaving her alone in an environment unfamiliar to even me. I did not know her teachers or her classmates. Everything would be new for her. I had to fully let go and trust that she would go potty when she needs to. That she would ask a grownup if she needed help. And that she would tell me if she saw anything inappropriate.
Maybe it was because after months of deliberating where to send her for preschool, I was still second-guessing if I made the best decision for her.
Maybe it was the realization that our Mommy and Me classes were coming to an end (so thankful we did ice skating together this summer while we can still do such ‘Mommy and Me’ activities!). Maybe it was the realization that somehow three years had just flown by and she didn’t need me the way she used to. She’s become so independent, so thoughtful and clever that I know she is ready for this.
Something my cousin once told me came to mind today. We were talking about Amaani’s free spirit nature and she said, “She’s a happy kid. Don’t worry that she’s not clingy. It means you’ve instilled enough confidence in her to go forward in life without looking back.” Somehow, that thought made me feel a little better today. I had to remind myself it’s a good thing she’s handling the first day of school better than me!
A few things that really helped with the transition today:
- We talked about her starting a new school for a couple months so she was fully expecting it. In fact, we read her some great books about starting preschool that she related to. We even had her help us make her “emergency kits” and pack her backpack.
- We made a trip to the school a few days before her first day. Although she had been to the Open House and seen the classrooms it had been awhile back. So, we took her the school parking lot, playground and classroom again to show her where she would be going.
- Whenever we talked about preschool, we talked about how EXCITING it would be. We only showed positive emotions about it and tried to reassure her of any worries she might have.
At pickup, I got another surprise. Amaani was not ready to go home, she wanted to stay longer. On the car ride home she said, “Mommy, there was a solar eclipse today.”
Not expecting her to answer, I asked, “Do you know what that is?”
“It’s when the moon blocks the sun.” There, I thought. That’s why she’s in school. She’s ready. It was definitely a day of mixed emotions and I’ll end this post with a passage from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.