5.30.2018

a farewell to kindergarten

To my (almost) 1st grader:

How did we get here? How in the world is it remotely even possible that we are celebrating your very last days of Kindergarten this week? Diplomas and graduation caps and parties, oh my. Your excitement is palpable: every day at school is bursting at the seams with fun for you, as Kindergarten should be. That has only intensified with the end of the year hoopla: crafts and parties and bubble day and cupcakes and sing-a-longs. While I am grateful for your enthusiasm to bolt out the door each morning to see what each day has in store, and while I am just so selfishly excited to have you all to myself this summer, part of me feels so very sad knowing the year is almost over.

Kindergarten didn't come naturally to me, like it did for you. I was reluctant to let you go. We began your schooling as homeschoolers, but you wanted to attend school -- and so you did, and you nailed it, like you do with just about everything. Of course, we were spoiled by the most warm, nurturing Montessori preschool and I was worried Kindergarten would be different. I was worried the kids would be too big, and the school would be too big, and the teachers would expect too big things, and that you'd be lost because you're just so small. But you wanted to go to school and so you did. I didn't sleep at all the two days before Kindergarten began. I cried next to your bed and stroked your hair and tried not to wake you with my sobs. How did we get here? How could we be here -- Kindergarten? I thought of every memory we ever shared, the years we spent together, how lonely your sister would be without you at home and I cried. Still, you assured me you would be fine and you were. More than fine, you were great. You nailed Kindergarten with an unrivaled joy and suddenly I realized my tears were for my own selfish reasons. I missed you, but you were thriving. We lucked out with the most incredible Kindergarten teacher and you saw each day with a joy that I admired. You met the newness of Kindergarten with excitement: first dances, first bookfairs, class parties, field trips and cafeterias. You were eager to see it all, explore it all, be a part of everything. You were ready, even if I wasn't. And, my star, you shone so brightly each day. You made friends, you became part of a class, you learned new things and you stepped out into an independence that fits you perfectly.

But now the year is winding down and it's obvious how much you've grown. Your new-ish shoes are too small. Your backpack is ripping. The gaps in your mouth are slowly beginning to be filled with adult teeth. You have lost so much of the baby look that you began Kindergarten with and now you're one step closer to becoming a first grader. And as a mom, "first grade" feels a lot like "senior year" and I just want to pout a little and curse time for flying by so quickly. In my heart, I know you will meet first grade with the success, happiness and bright-eyed eagerness that you do everything else in your life. But my heart? It just keeps remembering you learning to crawl, and walk, and ride the carousel for the first time on meandering afternoons when we had no place else to be.

My precious boy: may you take all of the empathy, compassion and sweetness you have with you into first grade. May you continue leading with kindness. May you continue to know how perfect you are the way you are, and to continue seeing the best in everyone even when it's difficult. I hope you begin first grade with the same zest for learning and life that you have this past year. And, selfishly, I hope you begin first grade still wanting your sandwiches cut into shapes and your lunches made into themes and lunchbox notes from me to you.

I realize that our home has seen a mass shooting since your school career began and things are different than I would have liked, and some of that starry-eyed innocence has been taken from you and your classmates. But, my love? Please cling on to whatever little bits of that innocence are left and let it surround you. Let your wild-eyed childhood carefree spirit guide you into first grade and beyond, as long as possible. Let that spunk, that fight, that desire to do good and be righteous -- let that lead you, too, into this new normal that is our home. You are a difference maker. Keep shining, my baby boy. Don't let anyone dim your light.

I'll sit here eating my feelings in bundt cake and wondering where the time went, while we plan our bucket list summer activities and look forward to trips and traveling and beach visits galore. Know as you grow, as I stand back and let you spread your wings despite how unnatural it will always feel, that you'll always be my baby. Forever and ever. I'll just keep blinking, and you'll keep growing.

All my love always, sweet boy.

Love,
Mommy

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