A Lighter Heart

I had a lump in my throat as we drove to Kindergarten Parent Orientation Night.  It all felt very bittersweet, and my heart felt heavy.  My Maddie… going to kindergarten next year.  She is ready.  I am not.

I sat next to the my husband in the crowded auditorium among hundreds of other parents.  My eyes fell on the rock climbing wall, and I whispered to my husband, “Maddie will love that wall.”  The bulletin board in the corner proudly displayed, “I Can Tie My Shoes!,” and I wondered if Maddie’s name would be there next year.

The microphone screeched, and the principal began, “Good evening.  Welcome to Parent Orientation Night.  We are so glad you are here.  How many of you are sending us your first-borns?”  My hand shot up in the air.  The principal covered her heart with her hand and smiled a sad smile.  “It’s so bittersweet for you, I know.”  Suddenly, my heart felt lighter.

I listened to the principal talk about bus schedules and so many volunteer opportunities and curriculum.  As her presentation ended, she said, “If you’re wondering how best to prepare your child for kindergarten this summer, just do one thing.  Drive by the school often.  If you have family members visit from out of town, drive them by, too.  Come play on our playground as often as you can.”  My heart felt lighter.

“Thank you for coming,” she continued.  “When you go home this evening and your child asks ‘What did they say?,’ just tell them one thing.  I cannot wait to meet them.”  I knew that she meant it.  My heart felt lighter.

Next, we visited some classrooms.  This building is a kindergarten center, designed and built with kindergartners in mind.  Everything is clean and colorful and tiny.   Everything is designed for five-year-olds.  My heart felt lighter.

The classroom teacher spoke about curriculum and snack time and backpacks.  She smiled a lot.  She talked to us about scissor technique and proper pencil grip.  She showed us how to teach our children these important skills.  Then she said, “And if your child is having trouble with any of this, please don’t worry.  It’s okay.  We take them as they are.”  My heart felt lighter.

This is the right place for Maddie.  It is the right place, and it will be the right time, come August.

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19 thoughts on “A Lighter Heart

  1. Oh, Dana. You and me both. I wrote about kindergarten registration a couple weeks ago too. Parent Night happens in May … I hope I have a lighter heart then too. August will be so exciting, but also very difficult as we watch our baby girls enter the school arena. Love the kindergarten center approach! Can’t wait to hear more about your journey next school year …

    My kindergarten post: http://literacyzone.blogspot.com/2015/02/sols-next-adventure.html

  2. Believe it or not, I remember this, more for my third and baby than for the others. Such a necessary step and so hard. Today my oldest turns 30. It does get easier, but there are still tears. Your children are your heart!

  3. What a great principal and teacher–makes me remember how important it is to show parents how much I care about their children. The first day of school still brings a little bittersweet tug for me and my girls are heading into 8th grade this fall, but nothing is as tough as that FIRST day!

  4. Children grow up too fast. This is the first step for Maddie in a life filled with learning and possibilities. I know that you will be there to help and guide her along her way.

  5. Kindergarten is so scary for us parents. I’m glad the orientation put you at ease some. Repeating the phrase “My heart felt lighter.” was very effective. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I think you summed it up in your first paragraph .. she is ready and you are not .. but that orientation seemed to help. As parents, we over think everything! It IS an emotional time!! I liked the repetitive “my heart felt lighter.”

  7. Your line “My heart felt lighter” will stay with me as I am at the other end of the K-12 journey. Lots of last times for us but I focus on the exciting future and my heart feels lighter too.

  8. We love the repetition of “My heart felt lighter” It really allowed us to feel your emotions and how they transformed throughout the night. We have one getting a driver’s license and one going off to college –these milestones are so tough.
    Clare and Tammy

  9. So fun to spend this evening with you and share this wonderful heart lightening experience. My daughter and her husband are moving back to Seattle this summer. It makes my heart lighter after having her out of state and sometimes out of the country for the past 10 years. I also recall the summer before I started kindergarten that my dad would make me walk him to my school and tell him the way. I never could figure out why he didn’t know his way to my school.

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