Yesterday Oia sat on our front porch steps in nothing but her undies and sunglasses eating watermelon from a plastic bowl. Her last day of summer break. Red juice dribbled from her chin as she watched me mow, row after row, our entire front yard. She loves to watch me mow. And I adore how she excitedly waves at me each time the mower and I round the hill near her perch on the top step, like it's the very first time she's seen me all day. Smiling, front tooth missing, and happy. And all I could think, row after row of fresh cut grass, was My God, this time tomorrow she'll be in Kindergarten!
Well, that tomorrow came this morning. I drove my innocent watermelon lover to school for her very first day of Kindergarten and my heart was ahead of my chest by at least 5 miles the entire ride. It made no difference whatsoever the number of years of preschool she's had before and the familiarity of returning to the same building barely eased my anxiety. Kindergarten is a whole new book. And Kindergarten for kids like my Oia must be a book from a whole new genre. It sures does feel that way at least.
Oia did great at drop off. Of course. She walked into the building carrying her backpack and lunch box all on her own but refused to hold my hand. Naaaa, she said, even after I begged her to. I needed her hand far more than she needed mine but her refusal communicated she had not a fear or worry in the world. At least that made one of us. Reason #62 of why I love this kid.
The teacher in me was quite critical in the routines and procedures department during morning arrival and of course that made for an uneasy hand-off of my world into the hands of a teacher and an assistant that I really don't know. A little faith goes a long way in times like these and I relied on it a lot today.
I thought about my big girl all day long. I looked at the clock often and wondered what she was doing throughout the day. Thankfully, dismissal felt much better than arrival, although I still had some remaining butterflies from the morning. Oia's teacher told me she had a "really great day", with emphasis on really. And I could tell she meant it. It was relieving to hear. Exhale. Deep down, I knew that would be the report. I just knew it. Oia has a way of making us proud and today she carried through with that characteristic of hers yet again. But 179 more days are ahead of us and this route in inclusion won't be easy. I'm realistic. But somehow, we'll make it all work out, one slow day at a time.