Last Monday we began a new chapter in our lives — our little girls have started kindergarten! I took them shopping before school started and we picked out lunch boxes and thermoses. They wanted Angry Birds. I wanted the cute owl and cheetah lunch boxes. Barbie was something we could compromise on. I’m not sure they even really know who Barbie is, though. I think Elizabeth simply chose it because it was pink. And Carolyn chose it because her sister chose it.
I took a vacation day on that first Monday so that I could be there to send them off and pick them up again in the afternoon. Naturally, we have talked with them quite a bit over the last few months about what to expect, and they attended a five week long pre-kindergarten summer class. As a result, they were ready and confident, and could barely spare me a “goodbye” before entering the exciting new world that awaited them in their classrooms. We took a long time deciding whether we wanted them to be in the same class or separate classrooms… There are pros and cons on both sides. But if nothing else, that pre-kindergarten program was helpful for us in deciding that it would be best for our daughters in the long run if they started in separate classes, mostly so they could each practice making their own friends rather than rely exclusively on each other for their social interaction.
They were definitely hoping to be in the same class though, so there was some genuine disappointment — and even a few tears — when they learned that was not going to be the case. (Since Elizabeth came home from the hospital a week before Carolyn, this is truly the first time they’ve spent more than about half an hour apart from each other.) But, wonderfully and somewhat amazingly, they just accepted the disappointment and moved on very quickly. We are very proud of them for that, and we’ve told them so. And as it turns out, their classes are right next door to each other. Furthermore, the teachers work closely together and run on the same schedule, so they do recess and lunch at the same time, and the girls get to see other other at least a little bit during the course of the day.
Dan and I spent the morning together. Alone! We watched a movie during the day and didn’t have to worry about a babysitter. Dan commented that he was missing them particularly around lunchtime, when he would normally have been in the kitchen making their sandwiches. Even so, we enjoyed the small amount of time to ourselves. When it was time to pick the girls up at the end of the school day, we joined the crowd of other parents in the tiny courtyard and waited to collect our children. Carolyn was released from her class first, and then a few minutes later we had Elizabeth back as well. It was very crowded, and the courtyard was basically sheer pandemonium, so Dan and I tried to herd them out to a more open area where we could talk — but they weren’t ready yet! First, they had to celebrate their reunion with a BIG hug. And then another. And another. It was so incredibly cute to watch their happy reunion after being separated all day. Alas, I don’t have a picture or video of those reunion hugs, but here’s a before-school hug from that first day.
When asked what their favorite part of that first day was, they both enthusiastically answered “Everything!” That seems like a pretty good start, although Dan suspects that answer is at least partially a deflection. They seem a bit reluctant to tell us much about their experience at school; I swear, you’d think they were tweens already! But perhaps it’s just that they are truly excited to finally have some room to learn and grow apart from Mommy and Daddy. They are rising to meet these new challenges and growing in confidence, and they’re just not sure yet how much they want to invite us parents into that. Maybe we’re reading too much it, but if there’s any truth there it’s actually sort of exciting. That’s a big part of what school is all about, right?
And as if to drive that point home, they each completed these special “First Day of Kindergarten” crafts. Very cute! (sniff, sniff)