7 years ago today I proposed to my wife. Now…
Another next thing starts soon.
There’s always a next thing but it sort of feels like we are approaching the end of the first in what we know will be a series of stories.
Julianna is getting close to graduating from
college preschool and it has gone by so fast (just like everyone said it would). Let’s put it this way: There is still a little bit of time until preschool ends and Kindergarten officially starts but not nearly as much time as there was yesterday.
About 1.5 months ago, there was a parent orientation one night at the future elementary school. This is the Principle and a group of oddly nervous and fidgety parents. I think its safe to assume that at least most of us went through this before ourselves so I’m not exactly sure where the nerves came from. We got about an hour of presentation on school procedures and some awkward jokes about lunch time and information about how many times a week she’ll get to go to the library or have music. We got a number of questions from parents running the gamut which ultimately led to my completely unfair judging of which of the parents I’d actually enjoy hanging out with and which I think…well, not so much (just being honest). It was an odd feeling of being back in school for the first time…but not really…and this time I’m slightly less socially awkward. Naturally, my wife and I sat with the people we knew. Lord knows its not easy to make new friends.
A few weeks later we went to school for a “one-on-one” type meet & greet/evaluation type of thing. I don’t remember doing this when I was 5. My wife and I walked up to the school’s main entrance and pressed the buzzer. We were allowed in, got a name tag, and took our seats in the office waiting for whatever would happen next. Next, it turns out, was a Julianna getting her picture taken for a “file” followed by the 3 of us getting to meet the school’s guidance counselor. After that, we got to go meet the school nurse and answer some fun questions followed by the world-famous-you-know-the-drill hearing test.
[right hand up]
[left hand up]
[left hand up]
[grin – right hand up]
Once that test was passed, it was back to the waiting area followed by one of the Kindergarten teachers coming to get Julianna. Off she went, with Ms. M, to do who knows what. Apparently, they do some block building, skipping (not classes, but the actual physical movement), and some drawing. Supposedly, they are gauging her skills to help them learn and then place the kids in 1 of the 4 Kindergarten classes. Mostly uneventful. Slightly surreal. All fun (for Julianna).
Skip ahead to a few days ago.
Kindergarten Orientation: Kindergartener Style. They split us all up into 2 groups…you know, one of those “Last names from A-L arrive at 9:30 and M-Z arrive at 10:30” types of deals. Going in, I’m not entirely sure what the plan is or how this day is supposed to work. We mill around the lobby, along with all the other millers, waiting for whatever it was to happen. And then the Principle comes out and announces that the parents go [this] way to the cafetorium and the kids go [that] way to a Kindergarten classroom.
And that’s when the sobbing started…
See what you have to understand is, I had a really, really difficult time with drop-off in Kindergarten. I remember this part of this time of my life vividly. It is possible I’ve skewed it a bit in the 30 or so years since it happened but I remember being miserable and not allowing my parents to leave. I remember crying endlessly and inconsolably in the elementary school hallway. I don’t remember much else. I also know that I loved school so somewhere along the way things turned around.
The sobbing of course was from Julianna. Of course. Of course it was her, at least on the outside. I, of course, almost went into convulsions and a minor panic attack watching her react as it brought up the memories of what was a very difficult time for me. I sort of got control of myself. She did too. I don’t think I “showed” any of that to her. I watched the Guidance Counselor, an angel, offer to hold her hand, and then, use the magic words to get her “on board” with the program: “Would you like to hold my clipboard?”
And with that, we were golden…and by we, I mean, she. She went off to do her thing. I went off with the parents to do our thing…which it turns out was the same-ish presentation with the Principle as we had about 1.5 months ago. I sat there, sort of shaking, the entire time. I sat hoping that Julianna wouldn’t experience the same sort of misery I felt when it had been my turn. I sat wondering how I might handle drop-off if it turned out she did. The Principle seems like a nice enough guy but having heard the presentation before, I found I could use the time more effectively to wade into the Sea of Anguish. It was tremendous. Even though I saw her walk-off sort of happy, I kept my eye on the back of the room waiting for a teacher to bring her in and let us know that “this just wasn’t going to work out.”
The presentation ended and we were brought to the classroom to watch the end of whatever it was they had been doing. All smiles. She ran over and gave us hugs. She ran back and got her school t-shirt. She walked out with us, telling us that they had read books, sang songs, and played some [icebreaker] games.
Here’s the odd part though: We brought her back to the car and headed to preschool. Dropping her off felt different this time. It felt more like dropping her off with a babysitter.
Her preschool has been great; a truly wonderful overall experience. It feels now though that there is something new about to start. Something that I hope she will love as much as this nerd did.
She’s about to embark on a new adventure and 30 or so years from now when she looks back at these days, I hope the story she tells is the one where she remembers how it was really, really difficult for her Daddy to do drop-off in Kindergarten.