My daughter started school this week.
On her first day, my son and I walked her to her classroom. The mother of the children I babysit was kind enough to keep her children home that morning so that I could have the opportunity to walk my big girl into school. My son was given the duty of making sure she made it into the correct classroom, and also picking her up at the end of the day and walking her out to the car line. (He's a big first grader, and also a know-it-all, so the duty was taken with all seriousness.)
When we walked to the classroom, I told my son he didn't have to go in, he could just continue on down the hall to his room. He stood there a few minutes, internally debating whether or not that constituted dereliction of duty. Then, deciding it would be all right to leave her in the hands of her mother, but wanting to make sure she did make it into the room lest he be considered irresponsible, he gave her a firm shove through the door.
Once we entered the kindergarten room, I could see my daughter grow nervous. She was excited to be there, but she suffers from an attack of the 'shyness' often. So I tried to give her all of the bravery I could by gently stroking her hair and letting her get acclimated. Once the 'shyness' attack abated a little, she found her cubby and hung her backpack up. Then she immediately returned to my side. After more hair stroking, I encouraged her to get her lunch box out of her backpack and put it on the designated shelf. That, it seems, was too much to ask. It required more than hair stroking. It required a firm "Go ahead, I'll be right here" and I also had to get down on my knees to show that I was right there for her. Well, after shoring herself up once more, she did go get her lunch box. And she put it on the correct shelf. And then she returned triumphantly to my side. (There's nothing like the look of accomplishment on a child's face!) After that, the teacher took over and I said my goodbyes. I was tearless and happy for her. I knew she would have a good day.
The tears came later. (Did you doubt there would be any tears?) They started when I pulled up in front of the school in the afternoon pick-up car line and I saw my two babies walk out of the building, hand in hand. They were scanning the cars looking for theirs. And then when they spotted me, a huge smile lit up their faces. And I teared up. I teared up as soon as I saw them exit the building, and even more tears came when I saw their beautiful smiles. It still makes me tear up a little, just writing about it. Those are my babies, and they are growing so fast.
Well, today I dropped them both off at school in the car line. It was the first time I did that. (The kindergarteners had a staggered start - one half went Wednesday (like my daughter) and the other half went Thursday (which meant she was home then) and they all go today.) I made sure my son knew that he was still in charge of making sure she made it into her classroom (hopefully without the shove this time) and they both exited the van and grabbed each other's hands. And I saw them in my rearview mirror as I drove away - they were walking hand in hand into the building. My babies... *sniff*