Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Gregory's First Day of Kindergarten

Yesterday was a big day in our home. Gregory's first day of school!

It came on pretty quickly, but it turned out to be a wonderful experience.
Gregory's birthday is September 15th, 2 weeks before the age cut-off for this district. I had resolved from his infancy to have him start later. I simply didn't want him playing catch-up for 13 years and being the youngest in his class, which I imagine would be a little harder down the road for a boy than a girl.
The district has a highly recommended preschool for a great price, so when I called to enroll him, I was surprised and disappointed when they told me no child who is Kindergarten age is permitted to be in their preschool. We can't afford any of the other ones, yet we felt he was ready to spend more tim
e with other kids and taking on different challenges than he can get at home.

I won't bore you with the internal struggle I fought, but by the end of the day I had called the Kindergarten and everything was set in motion for him to start- exactly 2 weeks later! You might say I was a bit of a basket case. I had been so secure in "knowing" I would have a whole year to prep him for school. He's smart to boot, so it wasn't the academics I was so concerned about. We simply hadn't really discussed it with him.

I was also feeling extremely inadequate. I knew it would be a hard experience, but I hadn't braced myself for it to happen so soon! Suddenly we were buying his Thomas backpack with matching lunch box, a whole new wardrobe, school supplies, getting his physical and shots updated, and really talking it up with him.

The night before was restless for me (I think Gregory slept like a rock, as usual). That morning was bright and exciting. Before we knew it, he was dressed, backpack shouldered, holding his Schultuete, grinning for me as I took his pictures.

On a quick side note, let me explain what a Schultuete is. In Germany, for over 2 centuries, it has been traditional for Kindergarteners to bring a large, decorated cone filled with treats, to share with their new classmates, on the first day of school. My siblings and I all did it, so of course I had to carry on the tradition. I decorated Gregory's with trains and we filled it with wrapped cookies we had baked.

Anyways, Fred came home from work to drive with us to the school. We took pictures and escorted him into his classroom. We were early, so he was the 2nd child there, meaning he got lots of enthusiastic attention from his teacher. She's wonderful! She's been teaching over 25 years and is Nationally certified. She had even called us at home to talk to Gregory to thank him for the flowers he picked for her at the open house last week. He's in good hands.

I was proud of myself, smiling broadly. The only time I shed a tear was just before we left, as I knelt to his level and took him my arms, hugging him tightly, whispering how much I love him and how proud I am of him and that I just knew he was going to have a wonderful time.

Then I took up my girls
and followed Fred to the van.

I did pretty good the rest of the day, only every once in a while getting a little glazed over. My pride and excitement for him starting this new phase of life and shifting into it so gracefully was stronger than the feelings of sadness of letting my little boy grow up a little more.

Let me just insert a part of my journal entry from that day:

People have told me since I first held my precious Gregory that “they grow up so fast.” I don’t question that and never have. I guess I’ve just always looked at it more generally. I figured that “before I know it” I’ll be rocking my grandbabies. But after this experience, what I think is even more fleeting is each small stage- not childhood altogether. I hope I can learn from this to make the most of every single stage. Some days may be grueling. I may wish that others would never end. But when all is said and done, I hope I can look back and know I made the most of each chapter of my sweet children’s lives, as long as I’m around to do so.


Jeremy and Trish Olsen said...

Debbie, I feel for you. I was going great reading about him going to school with this HUGE smile on my face and then when i got down to the picture of him and his teacher i started balling. I am so proud of him he seemed to have a great day

Ashley and Spencer Bunn said...

He looks so happy, I don't know how I'm going to handle taking my first and last children to school it's gonna be hard not to cry.

Whitehorn Family said...

Oh Debbie,
How I know exactly how you feel. Two weeks ago Ben and I sent our first, Abby to her first day of Kindergarten.
Ben and I were grueling over the decision wether or not to start school for her since her birthday was so close to the deadline. But after a lot of thought and prayer we knew school would be the best for her this year.
I can definitley relate to feeling and understanding the cliche words that they grow up so fast. The stage of them staying young is so short.
There were times I wanted to take Abby out of kindergarten thinking she doesn't have to go to school this year, she can have an extra year to play and stay young. And I admit I was crying on Ben's shoulder often when I got home, and then I realized Abby is doing great and loves kindergarten, the problem is me. I miss my little girl, and it is the beginning of a new stage for us, school. Our family is heading to the bigger leagues :)
Ok, enough of my babbling but I did appreciate the post as I relate.

Frozen Cacti said...

He is going to have so much fun being a big kid. I can't believe he is already old enough.I'm sure that's how you feel too.

Luann said...

Isn't it hard to see these boys grow up? I have a picture of your Gregory at our Gregory's first birthday party. It was hard to see him go off to school, but I can't imagine how hard it would have been with only two weeks to prepare for it!! Are your girls surviving without him? Its amazing how much they rely on the older sibling for entertainment.