Six Years in the Making

Did anyone else notice that this was the shortest summer on record? School let out yesterday, it seems. And today, after much excited anticipation, Charlotte started first grade. It feels like just yesterday that I dropped her at daycare for the first time. She said to me that she was amazed at how quickly she seemed to get to first grade. I responded, “Actually, sweetie, it’s taken you a good six years to get here.” I don’t think she quite understood me, but as we drove to meet her teacher yesterday, I had a virtual newsreel of highlights from Charlotte’s life playing in my head. Six years–six long years and yet six incredibly short years.
Charlotte has been looking forward to this day since about a month before Kindergarten ended. In fact, I think her Kindergarten diploma (Yes, she got one, but the “ceremony” was limited to the school director, her teachers, and the class.) mostly impressed her because it meant she was a first grader.

All summer we’ve heard about how “first graders do this” and “first graders do that”. First graders, for instance, sit in an assigned chair at school; help their mommies choose vegetables at the grocery store; cross the street walking next to mommy, but don’t have to hold hands; and first graders have homework (very exciting). In short, first graders are big kids.
When we asked Charlotte why she was so excited about first grade she said, “Because I’ll get to do more math and science.” I think her teacher will have her hands full with this one!
We walked Charlotte into the schoolyard and chatted with other parents while the kids climbed and played. It was cheerful chaos as the whole lower school (1 through 5) gathered before the bell.
We were a bit concerned because Charlotte was not put in a class with any of her closest friends and she’s in the biggest class. A friend said, “Show her the list and see what her reaction is. Maybe she’ll teach you something.” Teach she did–while she wanted to be with Sarah and Henry, she glanced at the list, asked about her teacher, and talked about playing with her friends on the playground. She’s happy to have several children from last year in her class, one of whom was at her birthday (the measure of kindergarten friendship, right?).
As parents greeted each other, Charlotte had “smile conversations” with her friends, but explored the playground on her own. I tried not to worry about her social integration–her buddies clearly delighted in seeing her, and she them, so I think she just needed to run her nerves off.
The bell rang. The children lined up with their classes, hoisted their backpacks onto their backs, and, first graders in the lead, filed into school. Just after I took this picture, Charlotte turned and blew me the biggest kiss ever, movie star-style.
About four and a half years ago, Charlotte started to crawl. She got on her hands and knees, gave me one of her angelic mischievous smiles, and turned to scoot away as quickly as she could. I realized in that moment that my goal as a parent is to raise my child to be able to walk away from me with confidence and clarity, but to always know I’m there and to (hopefully) always want to come back. That movie star air kiss made me feel like I just might be getting it right (so far).

2 thoughts on “Six Years in the Making

  1. First grade! You told me it was great, I'm so glad. Charlotte, you were a great traveling companion, even though you didn't feel well. I loved every minute.Hugs, Bamma

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