Was it for Mary...or me?
Mary's First Grade Orientation was this afternoon. And of course, I didn't even think to bring the camera, oops.
Kindergarten was not a hard thing for me to send Mary to. It was only 1/2 day and Mary was so ready for something to do outside of the house. It was exciting and new and fun. No problem and no tears on my end. Mary did have her separation anxiety, which still lingers in small doses, but aside from that, she loved it. She ended up thriving in that atmosphere! It was the perfect amount of time for her to be away from home. I had no problem with her being away at school.
I guess I expected 1st Grade to be the same.
As Mary and I walked hand in hand down the hallway to her classroom for orientation, I could feel my heart beating faster and faster. Mary looked fine, so what was wrong with me?
We saw her teacher standing in the doorway with a huge smile and a very welcoming and loving feeling about her.
She immediately commented on Mary's adorable new glasses and showed Mary a pair that she has, that look very similar. Mary loved it. She then sent Mary off on a treasure hunt to orient herself with the classroom. Perfect thing to do for a kid like Mary. Being familiar with a place is VERY important.
I had to keep choking down the crazy feelings that kept coming too close to the surface. Was I...sad? What on earth? I am supposed to be happy, excited, and supportive for Mary. What was this?
After the treasure hunt, which ended with Mary finding her desk, I sat down by her and began filling out the endless paperwork that comes with school orientation. Mary sat by me and was silently eying the balloons tied to the juice drinks in the corner.
When I got to the paper that was all about Mary and her personality, I couldn't stop the tears. I told Mary to go pick out a balloon and a drink and she happily obeyed. I quickly took some deep breaths as I filled out the paper and reflected on my little girl, the things she likes, what we do at home, her personality, her quirks, her talents, and so on. It wasn't the best time for a walk down memory lane, but come it did, and I then, finally realized what I was feeling.
Deep down, I know that 1st Grade is the beginning of Mary being gone more than she is home. It is the beginning of her life in the world. The beginning of new things, new experiences, new friends, new challenges...most of which, will now be away from the safety of my arms. She is ready, but am I?
I told myself to quit being over-dramatic, reminded myself that she will be home when she is off-track, she will be home most evenings (when she is not at gymnastics), and she will be home on weekends. It is only 4 1/2 days a week.
That helped, and I pulled myself together.
I found myself asking the teacher more and more questions. I had Mary show me her desk, where she will line up, where she will eat lunch, and so on. I asked about the daily activities, the rules and the curriculum. The more I asked and looked, the better I felt. And I soon realized, that "I" needed this orientation. Mary was fine, but I was the one needing the orienting. Woah.
As we left the classroom, Mary was quiet. This can be normal for her, when she is processing things. I held her hand as we went to the office to pay for school lunch for the week. After all, this is the "coolest" part of 1st Grade. I then had a nagging feeling that something wasn't quite right. hhhmmm
A thought popped into my mind as we made our way to the car. We rushed back to the classroom where I asked the teacher to please move Mary's desk. I am not sure why I felt this was so important, but it was, and so I acted.
There are 6 kids in our ward that will be in Mary's class. 4 of them sit next to eachother. I asked Mary if she wanted to sit in a specific spot. She immediately pointed to the place where her friends were. It was as if she had already been hoping for it and worrying about it. To my girl with some separation issues, being with familiar people is a big deal. It is not just a fun thing, it is an actual need.
Mary was all grins and giggles when we left the classroom this time. We walked back down the hallway hand in hand. Mary with a balloon, a drink and a smile. Me with a heavy heart and a few tears.
My little girl begins first grade tomorrow. She is ready. She is excited and she is happy.
Let's hope I will be the same.
For now, I will let the tears flow as I orient myself to this new phase.