He had a great first day. It was a zoo trying to get to him when I picked him up and I had to drag him outside, beyond the buzz of the crowd, to hear all about his day. He was full of excitement with so much to tell.
"THREE recesses!" he exclaimed. "And we did music, and I get to do PE, and we eat lunch in our classroom, and Mrs. Fitz gave us a snack... and we got THREE recesses!" The highlight of first grade.
He was exhausted, going straight from his first long day of school to swim lessons then home. He barely made it through dinner and refrained from complaining when I announced an early bedtime. By 7:15 he was tucked in bed, by 7:45 he was out.
Joe was in Medford yesterday and missed the whole "first day" routine so he promised he'd be there for day 2 so we could do it all over again. We parked and walked in and his teacher gave us a "we'll let it slide" look as she explained that from now on Brendan would need to play outside in the mornings until the bell rings. She gave Joe a complimentary look at the classroom and explained how to get to the playground. We took him through the steps... "this is how to get there, this is where you'll play, we'll wait with you today till the bell rings and show you where to go..." but he looked terrified. And what first grader wouldn't, given that the playground was bustling with so many kids? The bell finally rang and the crowd rushed for the doors. "Don't go there" we told him, and the confusion consumed him. "But where do I go?" he asked as we guided him toward the "first graders" entrance. "Here, buddy... where all of your pals and your classmates are going...you go in there and you'll see your classroom..." We gave him a gentle nudge as his look of terror worsened. We walked him to the entrance and pointed to his classroom, "right there sweetheart," I said. But his fingers shot to his mouth and his eyes darted downward, a nervous habit that signals he's trying not to cry, "I don't know which one is mine" he said sadly to me as I knelt down and pointed in the right direction (the room was less than 10 yards away but a mile in the eyes of a 6-year-old.) "Walk him there" Joe whispered and I stood to grab his hand. By this time the tears were streaming down his face so I knelt to give him a hug and whispered "I'll take you there." He hugged me back and I struggled to let him go. His teacher walked out and he finally had some recognition. "Right there..." I said and he finally walked away. "It'll get better" she smiled sadly with a sense of understanding.
We walked through the exit and I finally allowed my own tears to fall. "How can I leave him like that?" I cried, "he's terrified and so am I!" It's a big scary world and he's still so small... but why does it have to hurt sometimes, just to watch them grow?
First Day of School
He started school this morning,
And he seemed so very small.
As I walked there beside him
In the Kindergarten hall.
And as he took his place beside
the others in the class,
I realized how all too soon
Those first few years can pass.
Remembering, I saw him as
He first learned how to walk.
The words that we alone made out
When he began to talk.
This little boy so much absorbed
In learning how to write.
It seems as though he must have grown
To boyhood overnight.
My eyes were blurred but hastily
I brushed the tears away
Lest by some word or sign of mine
I mar his first big day
Oh how I longed to stay with him
And keep him by the hand
To lead him through the places
That he couldn't understand.
And something closely kin to fear
Was mingled with my pride.
I knew he would no longer be
A baby by my side.
But he must have his chance to live,
To work his problems out,
The privilege to grow and learn
What life is all about.
And I must share my little boy
With friends and work and play;
He's not a baby anymore --
He's in First Grade today.
*borrowed and adapted from a friend's post on Facebook