And, We Survived Another First Day of Kindergarten Drop Off!

September 9, 2013

Grace and I had a nice first morning of Kindergarten – woo hoo! I think she was ready. We’ve been talking about it all summer and Gavin has been giving her “tips” for the past two weeks.

We picked out her outfit yesterday. She wanted to wear a dress and two ponytails. Done.

Knowing that the playground where she’d recess had mulch (or bark chips as Portlanders say), she made a sensible shoe choice (sneakers). (Hahaha.)

She made sure she had a good lunch (homemade peanut butter crackers, grapes, applesauce and popcorn. Water, not a juice pouch, Mom) and a good afternoon snack (Parmesan Goldfish).

She made sure her backpack was properly adorned with a little bunny she’d attached way back in June following her pre-school graduation.

She brushed her teeth.

She smiled for a million pictures.

And she was ready.

She got herself situated in the car. I drove her up the street, and she asked me to roll down her window so she could say goodbye to Gavin, who was waiting for the bus.

The neighbors and their kids were all waiting for the bus. And the moms and dads and some kids clapped and cheered for Grace as she drove by. And, because she’s Grace, she soaked up every second of that as if she was Kate Middleton presenting the Royal Baby for the first time. That really put her in a good state of mind – so to my neighbors who were there and who are reading this – THANK YOU!

I rolled up the window as we made the turn towards school and Grace said, “Oh my gosh, Mom! That was so great! They all cheered for me because I am starting Kindergarten!” and then she giggled. And giggled some more. And then she said, “That was really so funny.”

I seemed to have timed Grace’s first day drop off better than Gavin’s. We didn’t have to wait around in the car. (Ok. This is a positive spin on “I was running a little late.” or “I was a mom freak-show last year and was 15 minutes early for Gavin’s drop off.”)

She started off running towards school. We saw another mom we knew and Grace happily answered all her questions about starting Kindergarten and playing soccer. She ran towards school some more. She slowed to a walk as she approached the corner – beyond which were the doors to the school. She didn’t really hesitate – just kept right on walking.

We signed in at the office (since I am a Visitor – I need my label :)). She dropped off her lunch on the cart – she remembered just where it needed to go. We walked down the hall towards the steps to Kindergarten. With one hand in her mouth nibbling her fingernails, she slipped her other hand into mine and squeezed it three times, as she often does when she needs a little reassurance. (I taught her long ago that squeezing my hand three times was an easy way to tell me she loved me when she felt scared or was too nervous to say it out loud. I told her I would know what that meant and would do the same back to her. She asked, “Why three times?” I said, “One for each word in I. Love. You.” She grinned – and picked up that little habit faster than anything I’ve seen her do so far 🙂 )

We went up the steps and down the hall. She briefly let go of my hand. But came right back and took it again after three steps. We reached her door. She stopped dead in her tracks. But only for a second. Then she walked through the door. She looked up at me and her nose was a little pink and her eyes slightly watery. She was on the verge, so I pretended I couldn’t read any of the name tags in the backpack cubbies and made a game out of finding hers. That turned her mood right around.

She said hi to the teacher, found her name on the board, and followed a few simple instructions from her teacher. We then read a book – she chose Three Little Pigs. The principal came in to say hello and to dismiss the parents. Grace threw her arms around my necked and squeezed so tightly. She pulled away and looked at me. Pink nose and watery eyes. I gave her a mission – that I wanted one funny story from her first day of school, and told her I’d have her favorite dinner ready for her tonight (spaghetti and meatballs). She grinned ear-to-ear and walked over to her spot at the table. She sat down and the little girl sitting next to her smiled at her.

I waved goodbye and left.

I started walking down the hall, but turned back just to double-check that she was fine. I peeked in the window. And she and the little girl next to her were talking and smiling. PHEW!

I think she’s going to be OK – hooray! Of course, Gavin didn’t start getting upset until the second / third / fourteenth day of school, so I am not counting myself as out of the woods yet. Hahaha.

Seriously, though, I am starting to think that having an older sibling can really help youngers adjust to the transition to school. Gavin’s presence has always been reassuring to Grace – she loves him so much. For the most part, he’s a graceful recipient, but the older he gets, the more he starting to get embarrassed by his little sister. I hope that turns around. Nevertheless, he’s still helpful – and was more than happy to share everything he knew about Kindergarten with her.

Gavin’s Top Tips to Surviving Kindergarten:

  • “When I went to Kindergarten, I didn’t have any friends there. But after like five weeks, I had friends, Grace. So you probably won’t have friends when you get there, but you will someday.”
  • “Kindergartners have to sit in sections A-B-C on the bus. If you want to wave goodbye to mommy, you have to sit in section AA – that will put you on the side where mommy is. If you don’t want to see her, sit in section A.”
  • “I like to keep my lunch box outside of my backpack on the way to school. It’s way easier to drop it off that way. But, on the way home, I pack everything into my schoolbag so I only have to carry one thing. That’s way easier. You should try that, Grace.”
  • “Grace, don’t worry if you have to go to the bathroom there. They have bathrooms and there are doors on them. Just ask the teacher when you have to go.”
  • “You can only sit on the left side of the cafeteria because you are in Kindergarten. I get to sit on both sides because I am in First Grade. You can only sit on the left until because you are in Kindergarten – next year, you can use both sides like me.”
  • “If you need something, just raise your hand. Don’t call out, Grace – you have to raise your hand. And you will know it’s OK to talk when you get a thumbs up from the teacher.”
  • “It’s just like Nike school, but it’s Bonny Slope. And there’s only one teacher instead of three. And you bring your own lunch. But you still get snacks in the afternoon.”
  • “You get 30 minutes to eat your lunch, so you have to hurry. You will have to go even faster next year because you only get 20 minutes in First Grade.”
  • “Don’t worry about getting thirsty. They have water fountains.”
  • “You have to be principled, Grace. I kind of forget what that means, but your teacher will tell you. Basically, you just have to be good.”

She can’t go wrong with tips like that, right?! 😉

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