First Day of Kindergarten {Stream of Consciousness}

first day of kindergarten
{Hears things rustling. Sees twelve-year-old fully dressed in the dark.}

“Baby? What time is it?”

“5-something.”

“Um, your alarm doesn’t go off until 6:30. What the heck are you doing awake?”

{Doze back to sleep.}

….

{Hears a noise.}

Is.. is that my alarm?

Crap. It is my alarm.

{Hulk Smash alarm}

I don’t want to get up. What the.. why are there so many kids.. around me. And awake and stuff. And DRESSED?

Whoa.

Am I in the Twilight Zone? They are wayyyy too chipper already. Where the #$&# is my coffee.

OH GOD, I have to drop Baby Sister off at Kindergarten. I’m dreading today.

Oh look! She looks okay and ready. Maybe this won’t be so bad.

{Fast forward to school drop-off}

“Hold hands so I can get a picture!”

Son: “Do I have to?”

“Yes!!”

first day of kindergartenfirst day of kindergarten

She’s happily skipping along, maybe this won’t be so bad. My God, I wish I could just run and leave and forget dropping her off. I hope she isn’t scared. I hope she isn’t scared. I hope she isn’t scared.

Alright.. do we go to the… nope, cafeteria’s already empty. Crap. Gym?

“Kindergarten?” I asked, being met with a point in the right direction into the gym.

Lots of parents and kids and backpacks and shiny shoes and hairs combed and teachers smiling and coffee and OH NO, her class already left, where are they?

I saw a line of small children with parents following one-another on their way out. “Excuse me, is this..”

“No, this is Pre-K.”

DAMN. And now we’re stuck behind the pre-k class to get to her class. And these parents and kids are holding up SO WELL, and OHMYGOD I want to lose it. I don’t want to leave my sparkly shoed, wide-eyed angel. She is so pretty in her new clothes, can’t I take her home to do crafts now?

Oh. Gulp. Here’s her class. Why does it have to be so close?

Her teacher is so smiley and happy. WHY IS SHE SO SMILEY? Look… the kids are… all okay. Parents are leaving without incident. Wow. Maybe she’ll be okay?

“Find your name, sweetie. Do you remember where your name on your desk is?”

“HERE!” She shouted excitedly.

“And where’s your cubby, baby?”

“HERE!” She pointed, just behind her desk.

first day of kindergarten

“Okay, we have to take this folder out for your teacher, and here, go give her this card, okay?”

“OKAY! Can you come with me, mommy?”

OHMYGOD, forever. FOREVERFOREVERFOREVER, I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to leave. Never, ever leave my hand alone.

While waiting for the teacher, I overheard kindergartners laughing. “Yeah, my mom is TOOOTALLY crying, because I’ve never done dis before.”

Gulp.

My God, I can’t shed any tears in here, the kids will eat me for breakfast. I hope they treat her alright. I hope they’re all good kids.

“HIIIII!!” Her teacher beamed. “Is this for me?!”

My baby handed it to her without missing a beat, but still had yet to utter a word, not on “Meet the Teacher” night, and not at this moment, she just buried herself into my arm, as if her nose could’ve bore a hole that she could hide in it.

“I wanted to double-check that you’ve got her down as a walker?”

I suddenly noticed her clamping my hand a little tighter, holding onto me with intention. I felt her nerves pulsating through her hand into mine. I shook our hands a little, flashing her a smile while I raised my eyebrows feigning excitement.

It is too big, this classroom. And cold. I should’ve brought a sweater. It’ll be 90-degrees and I #*$&ing need a sweater for my daughter because the room is too damn cold. WHAT THE HELL!?

I felt myself starting to get angry because that “time” is coming. It’s fast approaching. The teacher took the folder and card I gave her, confirmed her pick-up status, and we walked to her seat, but she wouldn’t let go. I didn’t want to let her go, either.

“Alright, baby. It’s time to color your owl for your teacher.”

I sat her back in her chair, showing her the cup of crayons, but she didn’t reach for one. Instead, as I backed up, she fumbled with her pencils. I could tell she was growing uncomfortable. The shy had begun to sink in, everyone was a stranger, and she’d had just about enough, and the day hadn’t even begun yet.

first day of kindergarten

All of a sudden she clutched me, holding on tight, and I heard what sounded like panting. But the panting was really quiet crying where the tears were forming but wouldn’t fall, because you’re practically hyperventilating from the cries that are behind your breath.

My stomach turned, and I felt nausea setting in. I wanted to leave her about as much as she wanted to leave me.

“It’ll be okay, baby. It’ll be okay. I promise. In just a couple hours, I’m going to be here having lunch with you! Just like we did when visiting your brothers and sister!”

She buried herself into my side, I couldn’t breathe. I could feel the walls caving in around me. How am I expected to leave my baby? Don’t they know how hard this is?

I can’t breathe. Ican’tbreatheIcan’tbreathe. OHMYGOD don’t make me leave her. How can I tell her it’s going to be okay when I don’t want to leave her, either. How can I do this?

I just kept saying, “It’s going to be okay,” because I didn’t know what else to say to make her feel better.

She whispered through tears, “I don’t want to go to school anymore, mommy. I just want to go home with you.”

Heart. Stab. Knife. Killmenow. God help me, I can’t leave her like this, but the kids and my husband are in the car, and I can’t leave her like this.

I am the only parent left in the class. The bell has rung, and I’m still here. No other kid is crying. No other parent is here and the kids are fine and my kid isn’t and I don’t know what to do.

The teacher saw me struggling. She came over to assist me, like a champion at ripping babies away from their mothers (said in the most gentlest of ways, because this lady truly is a sweet and nice teacher).

“Hi, sweetie. Want to help me color your owl picture? Here’s some crayons!”

“Why don’t you go color your picture with your teacher, and let me take a picture of you with her?”

“Oh yes! Let’s take a picture together! How’s my lipstick?”

My daughter feigned interest in her make-up as she slowly meandered back to her seat, leaving her grip at my side, eyes still red and swollen and stinging with tears.

I snapped two pictures, both painful.

first day of kindergartenfirst day of kindergarten

In her best attempt to keep her at her side after the picture was taken, the teacher asked, “Can you write your name?”

“Oh yes, baby! You know how to write your name!”

“Ooh, and I see you brought in some pretty pencils to write with! Tell me, which color one should we use today?”

Those very same pencils I was cursing at because the list said they needed to be sharpened were the very same pencils I now cherished because they were going to be with her all day and I was not. Never had I wished I were a sack of pencils before, until now.

“PSSSST! BABE!! THE. KIDS. ARE. GOING. TO. BE. LATE.”

My husband poked his head in to whisper-yell at me.

I mangled my face back at him in response, pointing my head in her direction. “Babe. Meltdown.”

He peeked over the bookcase to see our baby, our sweet innocent-faced baby in tears at her desk with her teacher and struggling to grip a pencil to write her name because she wanted to go home with us.

“Hi, baby! You’re going to do great! You’re such a big girl now! I love you! I will see you later, you have fun with your new friends in your new school with your new teacher, okay?”

I actually made that up, because I have no freakin’ idea what he said because I wasn’t listening. I couldn’t hear him over my brain yelling at me, “YOU CAN’T JUST LEAVE OUR KID IN THERE! WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH YOU? THAT CHAIR IS A PERFECTLY GOOD CHAIR TO SIT IN, YOU CAN SIT IN IT AND NOT LEAVE AND STAY AND ALL WILL BE OKAY!”

Except I couldn’t stay, and we all knew it, and I ripped off that bandaid and I walked away blowing kisses and stifling the throat-lump down into my gut as I clutched my stomach wanting to vomit, all while my brain screamed, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! DON’T LEAVE HER!!!”

I didn’t want to leave, but the older kids still need to get to school.

I will see her in a few hours for lunch. I will see her in a few hours for lunch. I will see her in a few hours for lunch.

That’s all I kept saying in my head to myself. It’s all I could do to keep walking away.

I will see her in a few hours for lunch. I will see her in a few hours for lunch. I will see her in a few hours for lunch.

I had to walk fast in my flip-flops to catch up to my husband, who was sprinting back to the car in his Army uniform. I couldn’t sprint, no matter how late the older kids were going to be. I couldn’t force my legs to run away from her any faster than the pseudo-nausea-induced limp. I was trying to muster all the strength I could to put one foot in front of the other to walk step-by-step away from her.

Once I got into the car, my husband impatiently compartmentalized the agony the way the Army taught him to in order to put the car in gear and get the olders to school. I buckled up.

“Where is my sister?” Baby Dude asked.

“She’s at school, Dude.”

“All awone (alone)?”

As if to add a knife-dagger into the already gaping wound I had in my chest.

“Yes, baby. All alone.”

{Gulp.}

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