Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Today I took the day off and spent some dedicated mommy/Little Dog time since Little Dog's school was closed to prepare for summer vacation. After a pancake breakfast, lots of book reading and a brief rest, we picked Big Dog up from his last day of Kindergarten.
They had a little ceremony in front of the school in which the principal led a "Friendship Circle." It's an annual tradition for this school and as much as I didn't want to tear up, I couldn't help it.
After honoring the year's work, talking about the teachers and staff who were moving on, either because they chose to or because budget conditions and enrollment had changed the needs of our specific school, she asked the Kindergarten class to stand up.
They did, this group of little kids who looked so big compared to their first day at school just 9 1/2 months ago. Better at following rules than before, the four kindergarten classes rose to their feet. She asked them to turn and face the rest of the school, their parents, family and friends who had come to participate in the circle. After the not quite as little kids, still slightly out of scale to the sheer size of their school bags on their backs, turned to face the audience, she announced that they were now officially first graders. And although I already knew this in my logical mind, emotionally it was stunning to hear it said. A first grader. And the smile that spread across his face was radiant.
Just months ago, in September, I stood on the playground with an excited and frightened child waiting for this phase of his life to begin. My first baby, my little boy. Neither of us knew quite what to expect. And naturally he thrived. He loved his school, his only complaint was that things moved too slowly and sometimes he gets bored when the other students can't keep up. Oh boy. Naturally there were bumps along the way, figuring out the rules, making his good friends and learning that even when you like school it isn't all fun. But today he sat there so confident and proud my mommy chest swelled with my own mommy pride.
While I watched this transformation, Little Dog clung to me, his arms around my neck, my arms around his little body. He was tired from our morning, ready to leave and get the celebratory ice cream I'd promised.
He's getting ready to move into a new class at preschool too. The oldest in his current group, they're promoting him to a class with older kids where he'll be better matched in age and play style. He's grown too. Drop offs are no longer a scene with waterworks and gnashing of teeth. Not always easy, but not the same caliber of struggle we had for months. He meets me with a smile at the end of every day. And though he'd rather spend a day at home, he tells me plenty of stories about his adventures when he away from me.
Tomorrow we start another phase. The summer at a shared school in different classes. Then one more year until Little Dog begins his own Kindergarten career. It seems parenting is always presented within little bracketed phases. Beginnings and endings. Starts and finishes. The familiar leap into the unknown as I learn that no matter how prepared I may think I am, these boys will never have the same encounter, the same reaction or the same lessons. That little skip in my heart, like the beginning of a roller coaster free fall at the beginning then again at the end. Always followed immediately by yet another stage.

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