It happened. My baby went to kindergarten.
I'm going to be honest here and say that this transition was not easy for a single member of this family. Jess and I dreaded both the finality of a real school aged child (not a baby at all anymore!) and the decreased flexibility of a school system. Lou lost her all day best buddy. She just about died when Annabelle left and she couldn't accompany her - it made absolutely no sense to her. And Annabelle has spent the better part of the last month having bouts of extreme anxiety. Sad anxiety. A bit of terror here and there. She spent hours anticipating the unknown - basically the recipe for permanent anxiety.
Initially I tried tough love. But it made things so much worse. I realized I needed to recognize my baby's tender heart for all the good things that it is. And I just needed to help my sensitive little wise soul prep the best she could. We started talking less about it. We talked in vague specifics. We didn't give her the time to dwell on it. Because like it or not - kindergarten would come.
A few nights before kindergarten started, I had a major come apart when I realized she had no friends in her class. And I put myself in her shoes. I realized how scary that would be for her. And so I prayed. I prayed not only that she would have peace and confidence and feel the love of everyone rooting for her. But I also prayed that she would find a friend. I prayed that her teacher would be her friend.
When she woke up this morning, she was happy. She was happy eating breakfast and putting on her new outfit, and she even let me do the double braid around her head. She giggled with Lou and was happy to take photos. But then when we left, it all came apart.
She cried all the way to school. She cried as we waited at the door. She cried as we walked down the hall. She gulped gallons of air as she tried to contain it, as she tried to be brave. I did the same.
I helped her hang up her backpack and find a place on the rug. I read the schedule to her so she'd know what to expect. And then I told her I had to go. I glanced over my shoulder and saw the education specialist standing there (she helps with any extra or special educational help and was on hand today for first day jitters). She hopped right over and said, "I'd love to sit by you! What's your name?" I told Annabelle this teacher would sit by her but I needed to go. She squeaked out an, "Okay." I kissed her. And then kissed her again. I told her I loved her and I'd be back so soon. And then I left.
Of course, she had an army of people praying for her all morning, and as I started the car and motored away, I had a secure sense that she would be just fine. When I went to pick her up, she was all smiles. She told me that the teacher who sat by her was nice. And that she liked her because she had eyes and a face like Grandma Lichelle. And she told me she made a friend. Her name is Olivia.
I'm sure we have a few more rough mornings ahead of us, but I'm so very proud of my baby who is not at all a baby anymore. Kindergarten is the beginning of the real world. I pray that the real world will be kind to her, that her tender heart will be a force for good. And I'm so grateful for the teacher with eyes like Grandma Lichelle and a new friend named Olivia.
NOTES: She loves that Lalaloopsy backpack that our friends gave her last year for preschool. I gave her the option of getting a new one, but she didn't want one. I love that about her. Happy with what she has. (For the most part.)
Also, your eyes are not mistaken. Her teeth really are dark. A few months ago, she fell and jammed them - the front two (baby) teeth are basically dead and have discolored some. (The permanent ones aren't damaged.)
She is indeed wearing the heart necklace from last year.
I have not painted my front door yet. See last year. I did attempt a quick sanding the other day. Baby steps.
And there was a filter on this lens that I didn't notice - it makes vibrant things practically 3D. Sorry about that. (It's awesome for landscapes - not so much for humanoids.)