“We walked down those steps,” my daughter said, gesturing to the opposite side of the car.
“And did you cross the street in the crosswalk?”
“Yes. And we had a really short recess.”
Today, she and the other kindergarten-bound preschoolers in her class walked across the street with their preschool teachers for a visit to the elementary school. Each was paired with a kindergarten buddy, played outside, and got to eat in the cafeteria (for $2.25).
For such a short physical journey, it feels like the start of a very long emotional one.
“They paired me with a boy.”
“What was his name?”
“I don’t know. He didn’t play with me. He was supposed to play with me, but he didn’t. My friend didn’t play with me, either – I said we didn’t just have to play with our partners, but she wouldn’t play with me.”
Ooph. Let the blows to the gut begin. So much of what she’s experienced so far is what we’ve arranged for her – and, since she’s only in preschool three mornings a week, most of what happens in her life is something I experience and witness as well, an observer and frequent participant, protector and guide. When kindergarten begins in the fall, the twelve hours of school will morph into thirty-five. She won’t be the only one transitioning.
“You had chicken nuggets?”
“Yes, but I didn’t have time to eat my broccoli.”
“Or my cookie.”
“Oh, no! So you had chicken nuggets and chocolate milk?”
“I didn’t finish my milk, either.”
She’s a bit of a dawdler at meal time – unless she’s eating some salty meat product like bacon – and bolting down your food isn’t really good for you, so we haven’t minded. Kindergarten, apparently, will require more lupine-like behavior – but not on the playground, I hope.
“I heard they only have twenty minutes for lunch.”
“But I got to eat my orange cup,” she said. She sounded slightly satisfied with that admission.
“And he got me a spork.”
I assume and hope this was the not-play-friendly partner doing his duty.
This is probably what we have to expect of the coming years, isn’t it? Times of growing autonomy, of new experiences, of hurt feelings, of being rushed, of gratitude. I hope the years will also be filled with kindness, with hope and anticipation, with satisfaction and pride. With learning, too – and more of the creative, inspirational variety than merely the worksheet-driven sort.
And with this walk across the street, with this toe-dip into kindergartenhood, it (so much to hold, those two letters, i-t ) has begun.