Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The First Day of School

This is the Edie that I know. The one that clings to my shirt, trailing behind me always, happier to be hanging out with David and I, rather than off playing with the kids. The one who curls up into her Dad when the bee hive is opened up, (this photo here was taken at a hive) while Lucy is working the smoke and fingering the wet honeycombs, her face right up close to everything, sassy, unafraid, curious.

Edie is the one that takes her time feeling comfortable with people and new surroundings, and sometimes she never quite comes around, preferring instead to hang close, to stay near what she knows. Not that she is shy exactly. It isn't timidness. She's just picky about what she wants to do and who she wants to do it with. She knows where she is comfortable and she prefers to use that as a base. All the time, she is watching, learning, taking everything in. But she is never far off base.

Edie is the independent one, who dresses herself without being asked multiple times, and goes to the bathroom alone without needing me to sit on the edge of the tub and entertain her in case ghosts come while she is pooping (Lucy). She is also hilarious. She rode for an hour and a half in the car last weekend, playing games on David's iphone, with a Dora gift bag over head. For no particular reason. She is her own girl.

But when I brought her to her first day of Pre-K Wednesday morning, I was pretty sure I was going to break her heart.

It has happened before - at her two day a week preschool last year. I left her hiccuping and hysterical or actually, that's a lie - I didn't leave her. I sat in her classroom for weeks until she finally, tentatively let me pull away and slip out the door. Even then, she wasn't sure about my leaving.

So, I was worried. I imagined her tears, my tears. I prepared the teacher, I prepared myself. But I couldn't have been prepared for what happened, really. In the classroom, she gave me a hug. And a couple more. And a couple more. And just when I thought the hugging might go on forever, she pulled away from me, smiled and joined the children on the rug in the class meeting area. She sat down next a girl she knew. And she was just fine.

I kept looking behind me to check on her (yeah, I did that, watching through the window, nose pressed into the glass, all pathetic and desperate, trying to catch a glimpse of her). She never looked toward the door.

Then, I walked down four flights of stairs to the empty school cafeteria and sobbed. I was happy and gutted.

Later, on the way home, she told me that at first she felt "shy" in class because she was thinking of herself as "the little sister", but after she reminded herself that she was "a big kid", she wasn't shy anymore. Sigh. The grasshopper surpasses her teacher.

It was Lucy who missed her family. Although she reveled in seeing her old friends, and bounced into school excitedly, and fell into the arms of a waiting gaggle of familiar faces and chatty girls in brand new Mary Janes, she also missed that parents couldn't walk kindergartners into their classrooms. That was a privilege just for the Pre-K. She also said she felt shy about asking her teacher if she could go and check on Edie. She really wanted to check on Edie. She cried a little when she told me about it. I suspect the checking was more for the big sister than for the little one, but I kept that to myself.

Sometimes the loud, adventurous, interminably curious one, who likes leading a pack of 10 children around the playground, is secretly the sappy, comfort-loving, mushy one and sometimes the quiet one, the one that seems fragile, introverted, alone, is actually the tough one, the one that is quietly sure, resilient, able to gather herself and summon all her strength for life's big moments. Maybe, too, that is the hallmark of being four and big. Or maybe that's just being human, always complex, never black or white, always gray or a spectrum of colors in between. I'm not sure.

Well, at least this is how it was for for one half day of school anyway. We'll see how we go next week, when we do it all over again...

xo YM



eglentyne said...

Oh Kim, You've made me cry. So lovely and wise.

:) Dani

Cheryl Arkison said...

Your girls are gorgeous, as always. Constantly surprising and beautiful.
But don't let them anywhere near those boots!

rita said...

That's an incredibly sweet story Kim. I wish we lived closer so I could get to know the girls better.You probably don't remember, but you were only in the 1st grade when you came to Mary's birthday party - that's when I first met you......

Minka's Studio said...

Sweetness. All of you. Sweetness.

Nuts about food said...

My second is starting day care in a few weeks...and my first is very much like yours. Sociable, tough but actually very sensitive and often misunderstood. I felt every word you wrote.

Anne Stesney said...

Beautifully written post. And could those girls be any more lovely? No they could not.

Christine said...

Kim this was lovely! Your girls are so wonderful. They are beautiful, inside and out. Good job mamma!

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Kim this is a beautiful post. Your girls are lovely and your writing is so heartfelt. As a teacher who has taught 2.5 year olds, I *know* what it's like to be the person on the other side, dealing with the little ones and all the time knowing how the parents' hearts must be breaking to let go to of their littlies... (I have also been the person escorting the parent out of the school and directing them to the nearest Starbucks!!!). Your girls are lucky to have a talented writer mum documenting these important times for them.


Barbara | VinoLuciStyle said...

So beautifully written and brought back so many memories. My kids are now grown and have flown the nest (one just a few weeks ago with her first apartment after college!) but you took me back many years to those first tentative days of school when, if I were honest, I am sure I missed my little one more than she missed me!

Maria said...

So lovely and of course, made me cry. I felt like you were describing my boys, who are nearing three. I have been doing plenty of crying with that.
Thinking of you in this beautiful bittersweet time.

Lauren said...

what beautiful and complex descriptions of your intriguing daughters - I see similar traits of Edie's emerging in Eloise - and I love that you don't describe Edie as timid, but more a pickiness and desire for comfort. Also - now I will be scared of ghosts while pooping.