Monday, August 4, 2008

Tut! Tut! Looks like Rain.

The infamous monsoon season is upon us. Here in Havasu, we haven't had rain, but today is overcast and muggy. Today is also a small landmark: my oldest child's first day of kindergarten.

Like all parents, I anticipated this day and have done everything I can think of to create as smooth a transition as possible for my daughter. I have stayed at home with her the first 5 years of her life and now she will be gone the entire day. OK, I know it's not a big deal for many kids, but Katie is sensitive by nature. Sometimes, when we're just visitng a city park her face will cloud up.
"Katie," I ask, "why are you crying?"
"Mom, I'm tired. I want to go home."

You can see why the thought crosses my mind that today might be a little difficult.

My friend and a veteran mother herself, LouAnn, told me, "You'll drop your daughter off at kindergarten. She may or may not cry; but you'll cry."

Not me! I have always prided myself for my lack of sentiment. I didn't cry at my high school graduation! My friend, Michelle, and I even made up alternate words complete with hand gestures to "Pomp and Circumstance." I have to admit, however, there is something about motherhood that, for me, kicked in when I first held Katie in the hospital. There's this extra sappiness (I blame hormonal changes) that instills itself in the heart of each mother. For some, it happens as soon as they find out they are carrying a child, for others of us it takes something as momentous as childbirth to catalyize its onset. You know, its the kind of setimentality that allows you to use maudlin phrases like"the heart of the mother," and that makes you tear up over reality television programs about multiples being born. It's sort of disgusting, but it is an unstoppable force.

My daughter tries out her new morning routine. I mark large black x's in the chart I made to help her easily move through each task. She's dressed in comfortable (though adorable) pink capris. She has donned her new backpack that is teeming with school supplies I meticulously packed the night before (mostly to give the teacher the impression that there is a concerned and attentive parent attached to this child.)

My husband walks Katie out to the front porch for pictures. "Smile. Say cheese."
Katie never says "cheese" or smiles for pictures; she tends to shy away from cameras. To appease us, she strikes a pose and smirks at the ground.
I try to make her laugh so we can get something more natural looking. Katie is a huge Pooh bear fan. "Say Tut! Tut! It looks like rain." I tell her.
Now, a smile.

Brett loads her in the minivan and off we go to school. The parking lot is packed, so we find a spot down the street. I pull her across the crosswalk; the crossing guard greets Katie. In her traditional manner, she looks at the ground and says nothing.
"Hello." I explain, "She's a little shy."
"We'll take care of that here," he says.

We hear a whistle blow beckoning the kids to leave the playground and line up for their teachers. I drag Katie by the hand and dash toward the school yard so she won't be late. I line her up with the other kindergartners. The teacher is hovering over her new students and reading their name tags. Parents stand and watch like spectators as the kids get ready to walk into their classroom.

"Goodbye," I tell Katie and give her a hug and kiss. "I'll come back soon."
I turn to leave and look back one last time. Tears are streaming down Katie's cheeks.
I want to turn around and hold her and talk to her until she is OK with the arrangement.

Her teacher's voice sounds over the din of the other parents. "OK, Kindergartners, I will be your mom for the next few hours."

I ignore my impulse to comfort Katie. My years of experience as a babysitter have taught me that trying to talk her through it will only make matters worse. I blink my eyes a few times and turn to walk away a little faster. Tut! Tut! Looks like rain!


Melissa said...

Oh heartbreaking! I'm glad that Tyler missed the deadline by a couple months...I'm not ready to send him yet!

I sure that Katie will do marvelous in Kindergarten! She is such a bright girl, and she'll make friends so easily!

mom said...

As Katie's grandma, I am grateful for this beautiful report. There is something so personal with this process. You and Katie have been cemented a little closer even though she is leaving you to go to school. She will find a binding dependence on you as she becomes independent. I know that you will always be there for her. She is a very blessed child!

mom said...

Where are the pictures!

Aston said...

Ohhh .... here goes "the heart of the mother" complete with "rain". I must be extremely hormonal this time around. By three you would think I could keep this under control.

I am so excited for Katie and Mom. What a special day. Thank you for posting the details for us all to read. I agree with Grandma ... where are the pics?

mim said...

I think she'll hold her own. That kid has put me in line a few times. Examples
"I'm not going to eat the cherries. They are a little tart."
"I don't want you to swing me. The swinging is fun but it pulls my arms and hurts."

She's so articulate that you can't argue with her.

Besides which, I have already given her so many obnoxious nicknames, that I think she can take it in stride when that happens.

Marie said...

Yea, Brett has conditioned her on the nickname front as well.

I am going to post pix as soon as I figure out this new computer Brett put together.

Anonymous said...

Aww! I love reading your blog. =) I can't believe that Katie's old enough for kindergarten already! I especially like the fact that I read it as soon as I got back from school registering for classes. *wistful sigh*

M & M Smith said...

ok, i still have four years, but so much to look forward to! You are such a great writer... I am sure you already know that, but seriously... well said my friend! :)

Mary said...

I hope she has settled in after her first week. What a bittersweet moment, thanks for sharing.

Barlow's have blogged said...

Very well written Marie and so beautifully put! Tell Katie hello from her cousins. Mattie starts in two weeks.

The Smiths said...

what a cute picture of katie!!!!!

Anonymous said...

i was sooo sad because my little katie and meg are growing up sooo fast. i cried. i miss them soo much marie.

Lara said...

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