Saturday, September 3, 2011
First Day of School
A couple of weeks ago, Jackson had his first day of kindergarten. The night before, we celebrated with his requested meal of mom's hamburgers with grilled corn on the cob. For dessert we had chocolate fondue and lots of goodies to dip. Jackson went to bed early and fell asleep right away. Mommy, on the other hand...that's another story. When you're a kid, you never hear of your mom being nervous the day before school begins, but it happens. Actually, my nervousness trumped any butterflies that Jack might have had. I kept going over the details of the next day, making sure I had everything on the supplies list, making sure it was all labeled, making sure his clothes were ironed and laid out. I wondered if he would cry when I left him, who he would sit by at the lunch table and who would be his friend on the playground. This year was extra difficult for me since Yukon schools approved all day kindergarten for this school year. I wondered if this was the right decision for a barely six-year old "baby" to be away from his mommy for eight hours a day, five days a week.
I woke up before my alarm went of the next morning and drank my coffee and packed his lunch. I wrote a note to put into his lunchbox telling him how much I loved him...just in case he forgot...by noon, you know. I sat on the porch swing and prayed for him...and me. i think mostly for me. I thought of how I'd imagined this day in my mind since the day he was born...dreaded this day actually. You hold your newborn in your arms and think that the next 5 to 6 years won't fly by, but it does. It flies...overnight. He woke up in a good mood ready for his new adventure. We decided to walk to school since it's so close and I figured that would work out any jitters he had. Sampson made the walk with us, and I think that was especially comforting to Jack. I did notice, that he packed Raffi (his beloved stuffed giraffe) in his backpack. I had to remind him that Raffi can't come out of the backpack at big school like he did at Mother's Day Out. He assured me he wouldn't take him out, but he said that it made him feel better just knowing he was there. Jon and I have had many conversations with Jack, jokingly asking if Raffi would attend his first day of kindergarten, his college graduation, his wedding day. So far, he's still hanging around.
I walked Jack into his room while Jon, Cole, and Sampson stayed outside. I helped him hang his backpack, find his name tag and put his supplies away. I kissed him goodbye and told him I would be praying for him all day. He smiled and cautiously made his way to the carpet to sit. I stood there watching and biting my nails as I saw him looking for who he might be friends with. He sat in the group of boys and I watched and listened to their conversations about superheros and what characters they had on the backpacks. I began to stereotype the kids...the jock, the troublemaker, the nerd who wore 1/2 inch thick glasses and wanted to find all the kids whose names started with a 'C' like his, the bookworm kid who wore Velcro shoes with navy socks and drooled as he stared at the reading list of books. Not much ever changes, you know. I started to feel like he was going to be okay after I saw that Jack's label was going to be somewhere between the older cool kid/role model and the ladies' man....not that I want my kid to be a ladies' man, but I did notice that he was the best looking and the little girls noticed too, so I'm just saying.
As I left, his teacher handed me this poem. i didn't have time to read it til I got home and Cole was settled in watching his cartoons and drinking chocolate milk. I read this poem, and felt peaceful knowing that she's a mother and she's been through this experience before and she must understand how I feel. The poem was called Jack and the Beanstalk, and I couldn't help but feel like it was written especially for me since the boy's name was Jack. Then, I had a good cry.
Three o' clock couldn't come fast enough for either Cole or I so at 2:30, we headed to the carpool line and parked at the catwalk and made our way to stand at Jack's door. As his teacher began sending them out, one by one, I couldn't help but smile. He ran up to me with his face beaming, and yelled, "Mom, I had a GREAT day!" All the preparation, doubt and worry disappeared as I saw the joy on his face and knew that he truly did have a great day.
Here's the poem Jack's teacher gave me:
Jack and the Beanstalk
Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Jack who was about to climb his very first beanstalk. He had a fresh haircut and a brand-new book bag. Even though his friends in the neighborhood had climbed this same beanstalk almost every day last year, this was Jack's first day and he was a little nervous. So was his mother.
Early in the morning she brought him to the foot of the beanstalk. She talked encouragingly to Jack about all the fun he would have that day and how nice his giant would be. She reassured him that she would be back to pick him up at the end of the day. For a moment they stood together, silently holding hands, gazing up at the beanstalk. To Jack it seemed bigger than it had when his mother had pointed it out on the way to the store last week. His mother thought it looked big, too. She swallowed. Maybe she should have held Jack out a year...
Jack's mother straightened his shirt one last time, patted his shoulder and smiled down at him. She promised to stay and wave while he started climbing. Jack didn't say a word.
He walked forward, grabbed a low-growing stem and slowly pulled himself up to the first leaf. He balance there for a moment and then climbed more eagerly to the second leaf, then to the third and soon he had vanished into a high tangle of leaves and stems with never a backward glance at his mother.
She stood alone at the bottom of the beanstalk, gazing up at the spot where Jack had disappeared. There was no rustle, no movement, no sound to indicate that he was anywhere inside.
"Sometimes," she thought, "it's harder to be the one who waves good-bye than it is to be the one who climbs the beanstalk."
She wondered how Jack would do. Would he miss her? How would he behave? Did his giant understand that little boys sometimes acted silly when they felt unsure? She fought down the urge to spring up the stalk after Jack and maybe duck behind a bean to take a peak at how he was doing. I better not. What if he saw me? She knew Jack was really old enough to handle this on his own. She reminded herself that after all this was thought to be an excellent beanstalk and that everyone said his giant was not only kind but had outstanding qualifications.
"It's not that I'm worried about him," she thought, rubbing the back of her neck. "It's just that he's growing up and I'm going to miss him." Jack's mother turned to leave. "Jack's going to have lots of bigger beanstalks to climb in his life," she told herself.
"Today's the day he starts practicing for them...And today's the day I start practicing something too: Cheering him on and waving good-bye."