Thursday, September 3, 2015

First first day of Kindergarten

So, we are officially the parents of a kindergartener. I have no idea how this is possible. Or how I am even old enough for this to be possible (my uncle reminded me that at this age, my grandmother had four kids in middle school, two in elementary, a toddler, and one that was still a twinkle in her eye, so...).
This gets me right in the feels.
Alice has been out of school since we moved in the beginning of March. She loves school and we all loved her preschool. I know Alice has been missing that stimulation and social interaction, and frankly, we've been missing the break in our day. So we were all excited for school to start.

We've had a lot going on this summer but were finally able to find some time to shop for new school clothes and supplies in the last few weeks.

Alice was so excited to pick out big girl folders and pencils and crayons and glue sticks and erasers. I finally found a backpack that fit a full-size folder, wasn't entirely too enormous for her stick-figure body, AND was also Alice-approved. It is classic and classy and still fun (pink!), without characters all over it that she'll be tired of after the next movie du jour. The fall wardrobe is still a work in progress, as most of what I ordered in size 5/XS from the big girls' section was too big for her, and I still basically have no idea what we'll need for our new climate. We're kind of taking it as it comes, I'm sure we'll need some warmer clothes. Or layers... But what we've got so far is really adorable, and we haven't even had any arguments about it.

So yesterday, Alice filled her backpack with her supplies and laid out her new outfit. I brushed and braided her hair after her bath; she asked for French braid pigtails so she'd have curly hair in the morning.
And this morning, we hustled to get everyone fed and dressed on time. We were running a bit late, so I took the customary photos while Jon loaded the little kids in the car and took off.
So cute I can hardly stand it.
Alice and I took a separate car, because I was staying with her for a half-day (of half-day kindergarten). We should have left earlier, what with all the dropping off and milling around and chatting, the parking lot was already full and we got stuck in the exit line and had to park down the street and around the corner. On the plus side, we got to cross the street with the sweetest crossing guard who held Alice's hand nearly all the way to her classroom and chatted with her and told her to never cut her hair and was just generally delightful.
Meeting up with dad. You can see Ivy disappearing in through the door, taking herself to kindergarten...
We met up with Jon, Ivy, and Elliott, and after Ivy doused her hands with hand sanitizer, we all saw Alice into her classroom and watched as she found her desk. Then Ivy had a raging fit because she couldn't stay in kindergarten and play with Legos, so Jon hauled her back home.
Ivy is just out of frame at the bottom of this photo. Alice is watching her drip with hand sanitizer.
I stayed and watched while Alice put on the glow bracelet gift and name tag that were waiting at her desk and found a seat on the carpet. The teacher read The Kissing Hand, which was a sweet book about carrying a kiss from your mom (or dad) with you while you are separated (like on your first day of school). The little raccoon didn't want to go to school, he wanted to stay home with Mom and play. The teacher asked the kids if any of them had wanted to stay home and play with mom and dad and a bunch raised their hands. Alice looked around at all of them like they were crazy.

Then, the announcement came over the loud speaker that it was time for the "clap-in." Us parents were dismissed to go find our spots, so out we went and were directed around the corner of the building to the end of the line.

All of the classes made a "team tunnel," lining the each side of the sidewalk for the kids to walk through. They went through, grade by grade, clapping for each other to welcome all the students to their new classes and kick off the year. The parents were all at the end, to cap it off.

We were the last class and parents out there, so I found a spot in line. They were playing fun music (that I couldn't hear because I was so far away), and everyone was clapping as the principal led the way with the first kindergarteners. One little boy was all by himself in the line, crying his little eyes out. It was so sad. We'd been so ready and looking forward to kindergarten, I wasn't really expecting to cry - I didn't cry for either of her first days of preschool - but I'd had a lump in my throat since we entered the parking lot and this little boy just sent me over the edge. Tears started leaking from my eyes and basically streaming down my face. Luckily, I was crouching down around the other parents' knees, so they didn't notice. I kept surreptitiously wiping tears out from under my sunglasses.
And then I saw Alice. She was holding her teacher's hand, and I cried some more. But then when she saw me, she broke out of line and came to give me a hug. I think she was feeling shy and nervous and overwhelmed, since she'd already traversed the whole line by that point. She didn't cry (and I don't think she realized I was crying), and I urged her to go on and join her class. And then I really lost it.

I was so sad that Jon wasn't there. We didn't know the whole scope of the half-day or the "clap-in" situation. It turned out that he really could have stayed for the whole day, even with the kids, and definitely could have stayed for the clap-in. But it was chilly and Ivy needed a nap and would have been a disaster, so it was probably best that they weren't there. But I was sad that he missed the event, and that I had to cry through it alone, and that I didn't know literally anyone at school. I didn't see a single other parent even shed a tear, so I felt extra crazy and didn't have anyone to commiserate with. Thankfully, my village is on Facebook, and after some texts with friends and reading through some of the comments on the photo I shared, I was able to pull myself together and make it back to Alice's class.

Once all the parents were back, the kids were ushered over to the library for another story, and the parents all crouched in their tiny chairs at their desks and listened to her teacher walk us through all the school policies and the social and academic expectations for the school year.

Then the kids came back and the day was over! Before the kids came back, I managed to dump all of the school supplies we bought into the appropriate communal bins. Alice wanted to put her supplies into her pencil box and was disappointed when I explained that the class was sharing resources, but she rallied.

At home, we talked about school and expectations, and what she was going to learn, and how and why to be brave and how important it is to be an includer. She went through my parent folder and found the curriculum packet, and wanted to do all the things. So I tested her sight words and was totally impressed that she knew four of the first six that they'll learn, and was able to sound out and figure out the last two. I tested her on the rest and found that she already knows fifteen of the twenty-nine they are required to learn this year. So hopefully, she'll be able to move on to some others as well before the year is out.
These have now been cut into flashcards. With perfect cutting along the lines. My daughter...
She finished tracing her numbers and loved the accompanying number poems, and then traced the upper and lower case alphabet as well. So I had her cut out her shape words and taught her about flash cards, and she made Ivy quiz her. Totally my daughter. I think she's going to be just fine...
On Tuesday, we were able to visit her class for "open hour," to see the classroom, find her desk, and meet her teacher. We saw that Alice shares her desk with a girl in the afternoon class named Elizabeth. We laughed, because that's one of Jon's very favorite names and her desk made it look like her name is "Alice Elizabeth," which Jon would love. After we finished in the classroom, we headed out to the playground. Alice beat me there and I as I surveyed the scene when I arrived, I thought I saw Alice on the climber. It turned out to be another tall girl with really long brown hair and pink glasses. I went over to talk to her mom and tell her that I had mistaken her daughter for my own. We had a good chuckle about it and the mom told me her daughter's name was Lizzie. As we chatted, I realized her daughter had the same teacher as Alice and was in the afternoon class. And then I realized Lizzie is short for Elizabeth. And they share the same desk. When we got there this morning, her name tag had been updated to reflect her nickname preference. I wonder how confusing that will be for the teacher to have two kids looking so similar sitting in the same seat all day. It's kind of like Sweet Valley High...

Anyway. I have all the feels, but no time to reflect or write on them, so I'll just bang out this all business recount of the first day for now... I am so excited for her and can't wait to watch her learn and blossom.


  1. That clap in would have sent me over the top too! A little much for timid 5 year olds/their emotional mothers, no?? Maybe I'm a bit too protective in that way, but Go, Alice! Brave girl sounds like she took it all in with her head held high, you must have been so proud... and sad, and happy and overwhelmed aka all the feels like you said : ) Hugs! Loved the story of her desk mate twin, Lizzie.

  2. Sorry I don't always make it hear to comment, but LOVE your posts and the wonderful photos! Our Molly just started 1st grade. On an unrelated note, Shannon used the expression "all the feels" recently. I must just not be hip (okay I just said "hip" and confirmed it) as I don't know that expression. Have a great evening! ~Michael, Shannon and Molly

  3. Such precious moments with sweet, awesome Alice.


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