The first day of kindergarten was the first big day of “leaving” for us – much moreso than the first day at this daycare or that one. Kindergarten signals the beginning of the educational journey that now has a departure date: 13 years from now. Thirteen years from now, for college or career or something else, you’re going to leave.
I’ve had three first-day-of-kindergarten drop-offs so far, and while all of them have been surprisingly emotional, I suspect the last one will be at least as hard as the first. We have about a year and a half until the last one, but I’m already anticipating it. On each of these days, I’ve been blindsided by an abrupt awareness of just how precious little time I’ve had with them so far, questioning whether I’ve had all the influence necessary before this journey begins – did I model kindness? Have I taught you how to be a good friend? Have we had all the fun and play and silliness I wanted to have before this day? I just want to hold you a little longer. I want you to stay little, for a little longer.
One day we’re sending you off to kindergarten, hopeful you’ll make friends and have fun and learn how to be a student. Just thirteen short years later, we’ll be sending you off to college or wherever you’re headed after high school, hopeful you’ll continue to make good choices and build a good life and learn how to be an adult.
The time we have together is so short. One day you’re going to leave, so today I’m going to hug you as much as you’ll let me, tell you I love you until you’re sick of hearing it, and be fully present for our life with all of its laughter, crankiness, silliness, dancing, arguing, and forgiving. One day you’ll leave, but you’re here today so I’m going to slow down and listen and notice and love you with all that I am.
Has your child started kindergarten yet? What was it like for you?
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