27 August 2009

The Times, They Are A-Changin'

For a few months now, I have been actively trying NOT to think about the fact that my little girl is about to start Kindergarten. I'm sure I'd be emotional even if she were starting half days or every-other days of school, but the heart-wrenching fact of the matter is that she's about to start all-day, every day, school. Nothing like jumping into the deep end of the pool. Or, to further exploit the pool metaphor, it's like diving right into Lake Superior without getting used to the water first: it might feel great, but you also might get hypothermia. It's a stretch of a metaphor, I know, because the chances of Charis getting hypothermia at Kindergarten are pretty slim, but still.

I am so not prepared.

I realized my lack of preparedness when I was in the Back-to-School section at Meijer a few weeks back and I started to cry. I actually began to weep over packs of crayons and Princess lunchboxes. I hightailed it out of the section and pretended everything was normal and my life was not about to radically change. A week or so later, I braved the section again, hoping for a better, more beneficial outcome.

Nope. Not yet.

Finally, before our big vacation, I took Charis to pick out a backpack and a lunchbox. This was not so difficult, because I was shopping in preparation for "vacation," not for "letting my child go forever." While we were at it, I also picked up a box of crayons and a box of tissues. I knew I was finally making progress on our school supplies list, because, as everyone knows, tissues are the most difficult thing on the list. Or not--I figured if I pretended they were just normal tissues for our house, that would make them easier to purchase. It did.

But I spent the bulk of yesterday gathering the remaining bits of supply list odds and ends--roll of paper towels, check; dry erase markers, check; package of 9oz. cups, um, okay...check--because last night was Meet The Teacher night.

I didn't tell Charis about it until the day before, because her grasp of the passage of time is still a little shaky. That morning, though, and all throughout the day, she asked me: "Is it time to go meet my teacher yet?" We practiced her teacher's name over and over, so she'd remember, we went to Meijer again for some items I'd forgotten, and I made sure she was all clean and trimmed and sparkly. A good first impression is important no matter how old you are. We took ribbon and pictures and a clipboard with us for a project--scrapbooking on Charis' paperwork clipboard so she'd have pictures of loved ones to comfort her. We dropped of Judah and Ruby at Yia Yia's house so it would be just the three of us--Dad, Mom, and Charis.

Finally, it was time.

We drove to the school, parked, grabbed our truckload of supplies, and headed for the classroom. We wandered down to the Kindergarten wing, but soon realized we weren't really sure where Charis' classroom was. We did eventually find it--I recognized it based on the font on all of the paperwork we've received from Mrs. N.
The first thing we spotted when we got inside the classroom was a cubby with Charis' name on it. I'm not sure what this cubby will be used for, and right now, it seems to be holding random classroom stuff, but it was exciting and a little too realistic that our little girl's name is printed on labels and signs and all sorts of things all over the classroom.

It's happening. She's going to school. This is going to be her classroom. I might be developing an ulcer.

This is the top of Charis' teacher's head as she shows Charis her place at the table. Charis is seated really close to Mrs. N's teaching spot, which will be very good for her, I think. Charis has a Virtues Box for jewels she may receive during the year for exhibiting behavior that coincides with the Moral Focus for the month. She also has a crayon holder with her name on it. Doesn't she look excited?

The longer we were there, the more she seemed to warm to the idea of school. We began work on her clipboard, then, with Charis picking out the pictures and Abe pasting them on for her. She picked really random photos, and I almost tried to press some different ones on her, but I took a deep breath and realized that a good first step in my letting her go be a student would be letting her do the project the way she wanted to. We sat through a New Parent Orientation and then headed home.

This morning, the first thing Charis asked me was when she could go back to her school.

Oh, I am still so unprepared. We counted today, and there are 12 days until school. 12 days until everything changes.

I may go back to Meijer and pick up another box of tissues.

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