A week ago the boy climbed up the steps of a bus for his first trip to school in which one of *his* grown-ups did not escort him into the classroom.
He attended Kindergarten for the first time.
Just days later the girl ran down the familiar hallways of the preschool - also our church. She knew right where she was going. It's the same room she's spent every Sunday morning in for the last year. It was her third year dashing through hallways at drop-off time - but it was the first time she was the one who stayed.
As a parent you worry. Will they listen? Will they make friends? Will they learn? Will they grow? Will they thrive?
Frankly, I found it easy to form an image of my child's preschool day. I get to know the families in her class as we became familiar sights at drop off and pick up. I develop a relationship with the teacher in that same time. I know if my child had a classroom job - it's posted on the bulletin board. It's a routine that I've been exposed to and I know the leading questions to ask to provoke chatter.
Kindergarten is different. I saw parents and classmates once at orientation. I met the teacher for all of 15 minutes. The hallways - although very much a sister school to the one I attended 29 years ago - are forgien terrority to me. I probe with questions and sometimes I get replies and sometimes I pull a few proverbial teeth.
Yet we're learning this tango together. Occasionally a few questions open flood gates and other times it merely leaves the tap open so that the picture of a typical day comes out little by little over time. For example, on Friday, school was simply "good." It was yesterday, I learned that he sits in the class library reading books with one Joshua and a Ben. One of those boys was in "the old Sunday School" class and so a familiar face. The second is a new friend but not to be confused with "the other Joshua in class" that happens to sit with Logan on the school bus for the ride home.
I felt some of the tension leave me as he disclosed this bit of his new life. Suddenly it's a little less unknown. Slowly we're establishing some familiarity. I known enough again to know that he's comfortable and social in his new terriority.
When Logan started preschool there was no melancholy for me. It was new. It was exciting. He loved it and I was thrilled for him. I did, if I'm being honest, chuckle quite a bit at the friend of mine who swore she'd have to be peeled from the classroom windows where'd she by crying her eyes out. Taking Megan this year hasn't been any different.
Kindergarten, however, is different. It's giving up a lot more than just a few hours in the day. It's losing that connection and control of drop-off. It's not just sending your kid to school, its putting them on the bus to get their own way there. It's not having the easy ability to put faces with names when your child starts talking about teachers and classmates.
The reality becomes stark and clear. Your child isn't just growing up and moving to a new phase of their life - something you really do reveal in. Your child is growing up and moving to a new phase of life that includes less of you. It is kindergarten not college, but it is step one in that direction.
It's a selfish thing, admittedly. Even in those moments when you moan a little and wish for just ONE trip to the bathroom that did not include an audience, even then, deep down you feel that warm fuzzy of being part of the center of a child's universe. You are the one to meet every need - not just food and shelter, but companionship and comfort.
Kindergarten, however, is phase one in the path away from all that. You realize that almost overnight you start to inch away from the center and a tiny bit closer to that spot you'll occupy years from now - the one that loops around in orbit.