I view the point of parenting to be getting your kids ready to not need you. Yes, have fun with them, and cherish the time you have with them. Just remember, at some point, they will leave and go out into the world. They need to go out into the world.
So, Brooklynn, go out into the world. Welcome to kindergarten.
We've been taking Brooklynn to daycare since she was a few months old, so it isn't as if we've never had her out of the house without us before. In fact, she will still spend part of her day at a daycare to allow all of us to avoid multiple drop-offs, pick-ups, and varied schedules. And she's fine with it.
Last night, as we reviewed her lunch list and picked out her first day outfit, she took some time to explain to Maddi that she would be going to school during the day but she'll come back in the afternoon so Mom can pick them both up. She explained it with a "Of course this will be fine" tone that showed she was the big sister, more than capable of taking care of herself.
With Brooklynn in daycare, she has been getting to be one of the big kids for a while now, some I'm used to seeing her as a rather mature and capable person. This morning, to help her get into the routine, we took her to daycare and let the shuttle take her to school. I told her that I would see her at school just to make sure she got to her classroom on the first day. At daycare, she was fine - I'll see you there if you want to come. If anything, Maddi was more worked up over the notion that Brooklynn would be leaving without her.
I got to the elementary school ten minutes before the bell rang to line up. It's been a while since I've been to K-5 age setting, and longer still since I was there on the first day. Since I didn't know exactly where Brooklynn would be dropped off, we hadn't set a firm meeting point to give her a "Wait for me here" direction. As I surveyed the mass of kids, parents, and supervisors on the playground, I regretted that.
I didn't think Brooklynn would have abandoned her belongings to play, but I swung by the slides and swings to check. I didn't see her. If nothing else, I knew I could wait by the door and at least wave to her as she went in since I told her I would be there. I was walking back to the school through the people when and opening in the crowd appeared and I spotted her.
She was standing still, clutching her backpack to her chest, looking at all the people swirling around her. Instead of the mature and worldly person we see at home, she seemed very small, timid, and afraid. She saw me as well, came over, and latched on to my leg. I crouch down to be at her level and everything came spilling out. They shuttle dropped her off and there weren't many other kids riding with her today and she didn't know where to go and she couldn't find her teacher and she didn't know where I was but she knew I should be somewhere and she just didn't know.
And so I helped her. With the assistance of a playground monitor, we found the tag where her class will line up. And we looked at the other class tags, and saw how others ones had numbers for the grade levels and hers had a K for kindergarten, and the letter of her teachers name. We put her backpack in the line and went to play for a minute. Brand new playground equipment, yes it's ok to go on it, and yes, I will be here when you're done.
The whistle blew for everyone to line up, so we went back, found her backpack, and got in line. We talked about where the shuttle from daycare dropped her off, and where it would pick her up at the end of the day. We talked about the fact tomorrow morning, she would need to do this herself and that I can't come every day with her. She said that she could handle it, and, since her teacher was starting the headcount of the kids in line, I gave her one last hug, got a tighter squeeze back, and I stepped away.
They waited for a minute while a few other classes went in first. Brooklynn motioned for me to come over to her, but I just told her she would be fine, right? She nodded, and it was her turn to file in. One last wave and she was gone. She didn't even need to look back.
I walked back to my car and headed back to work. The whole point of parenting is to get your kids ready not to need you. We're doing that. Some steps along the path are bigger than others, and I'd say that this morning was a gigantic one.
Good job, Brooklynn.