We waited five-and-a-half years for the grand party that was Kindergarten. Most of my posts from last summer included some kind of countdown to the blessed event. After much anticipation it finally arrived, and now (somehow) it’s over. As we walked away from the school last Friday, teary-eyed and excited for summer, I started going through the bag of assorted goodies ONE came home with. Because really, no matter how good the party was, if the goodie bag sucked, so did the party.
The Blow Pops and M&Ms were that ONE can read, write, tie her shoes, be polite without me around, and, according to her teacher, “…unlike other kids, who use writing workshop times to write things like ‘I’m writing in writing workshop,’ ONE always tells interesting stories and uses great details.” That’s right. It’s in her blood.
There were also a ton of those fun-for-five-minutes toys that fell apart and made a mess everywhere. Like friendships that included fighting, hurt feelings and the threats of “then you can’t come to my birthday party.” Personalities that “came home” in ONE’s backpack and had to be cleaned out before we sent her back the next day. Playdates, attempts at sports, and lots and lots of crafts that I was expected to “do something with.” And the beginning of phone calls so that ONE and her BFF could dress like “twins” and eat “twin” lunches. She *may* have already been heard to have said, “…no YOU hang up first.”
There were also a lot of public tears in Kindergarten. Mine. (Really, there is no excuse.) I cried every time she was on stage. I cried when other people were on stage. I cried when the staff sang Christmas carols in the lobby as we arrived, the 100 days of school party, and when I saw the collaborative art project the Kindergarten class did after they went to the museum and zoo to study animal textures.
I even cried when I read TWO “Knuffle Bunny Free” at the library. The original “Knuffle Bunny” was ONE’s favorite because she had a Grover she took everywhere. And this year? Out of the blue she decided she was growing up, and it was time to let him go. I knew it was going to happen one day, but it still makes me sad.
And then there was the candy dust at the bottom of the bag. The bad jokes, horrific songs, jinxes, super-human germs, “Made You Look” taunts, extending the Witching Hour an extra hour (it now runs from 4-7), and turning our front door into the Whining Threshold from Hades. Naturally these were the treats she shared with her sister, which prompted me to (repeatedly) use an excuse I hadn’t even realized was on deck. The Ol’ “She-Has-an-Older-Sister.” I always thought it was said by parents who couldn’t control their kids and didn’t feel like trying. Now I understand it’s not an excuse per se, it’s a way to explain that her father and I didn’t teach it to her, we’re doing our best to curb it, and in the meantime we’re sorry, but she does in fact “have an older sister…”
For the first time in my (short) history as a parent, I’m not dreading summer break because I know just how short it really is. And while it was awesome to gain back time for myself during the school day, the price was bits and pieces of ONE’s carefree childhood. This wasn’t a bad thing. It needed to happen and she had fantastic teachers to guide her in growing up. Plus I’m still part of her day (both at school and home), but influences are starting to shift and it’s kind of bittersweet.
I remember walking behind her on the first day at school and getting teary-eyed because her backpack looked way too big for a Kindergartener.
But as it turns out, it’s just the right size for a First Grader.
(And don’t think I’m not cheap enough to attempt talking her into using it again next year. Because obviously the reason Kindergarten was so awesome was because of her awesome backpack.)
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