You may remember that we all thought kindergarten was sort of the pits in the beginning. It was the beginning of the end. The end of an era of babies at home, safe from mean kids and naughty words. I really wasn't excited at all for it.
But I've spent the better part of the last week trying to not cry about the fact that it's over. (Truth: I've cried about it. Thank you pregnant hormones.) We got really really lucky this year, and Annabelle had not only the most wonderful kindergarten teacher in the world (Mrs. Heldt), but her classmates turned out to be pretty great too. Academically she soared, but more important to me, she learned about herself - how to navigate sticky social situations, how to remember that at the end of the day, you go home, and you're safe there. She made friends, she learned to speak up. She had parties and field trips. She had to say sorry and make things right. She made projects upon projects, spending most of her free work time at the art station (sometimes she veered to the math or reading station). She had the best year. When she went to bed tonight, she could barely make it through her prayer before the tears started squeaking their way out. She asked as she sobbed why she couldn't keep going to school. "If Daddy gets to go to work every day and forever, why can't I go to school every day and forever?"
Next year, Annabelle will be doing a dual immersion program. For half the day she'll spend her time in a regular first grade class. For the other half, she'll spend it with a French-speaking only teacher. It will be a huge adjustment - full day school, plus half the day in a language she doesn't (yet!) understand. But after this lovely year we've had, I just have to believe it will all work out. I'm sure I'll cry when she starts first grade too, and I'm sure she'll cry for the first week(s) of first grade. But then I'm also quite sure that we'll all cry when it's over, just like we are now.
Watching my babies grow up is the most perfect combination of pride and pain. How grateful I am that this first year of growing was so perfectly lovely. Kindergarten, thank you. You weren't half that bad, after all.
And now for some side by sides. The left photo is the first day of school, the right is the last. Some of my favorite things of note:
1. Her hair is darker and shorter.
2. Her smile is bigger and brighter (her dark teeth turned white again, phew).
3. Her backpack is so well-loved - scuffed a bit, zipper broken. She really wants to use it for first grade too.
4. She and that sister are just as goofy as they were all those months ago. I'm so glad. :)
5. And her eyes are still squinty and smiley. I love those squinty smiley eyes on my girls.
Congratulations baby. You did it.