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Tiaras and Trucks

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Other Side of the Door

Summer winds down and school looms on the horizon, sharpened pencils waiting to etch names onto crisp paper, colorful Flair pens doodling in the margins, backpacks overwhelming small frames.  The first day of school holds the promise of a fresh start, anticipation and excitement hanging in the air, hiding behind shy smiles and jokes between friends.

I’ve faced the first day of school as a student, moving from decorated cardboard supply boxes and kitten adorned Trapper Keepers to overpriced college textbooks and reams and reams of lined paper soon to be covered in notes and doodles and office hours.
As a teacher, I started a few weeks before the students, carefully choosing fabric for my bulletin boards, buying supplies in bulk, rearranging my classroom too many times in anticipation of group work and testing and access to different areas in the room.
This year, the first day of school looms, and I’m wavering between excitement and denial from moment to moment.
This year is the first year I am facing back to school as a mother.
Abbey is going to preschool.
She is beyond thrilled to be starting school next month.  A small smile spreads into a grin on her little face when she talks about it.  Lately, she wants to play teacher and student, a game that works out better when she doesn’t try to include Dylan as a student.
I am thrilled for her.  She loves stories and writing and playing games and dress-up and pretend.  I watch her attempting to write letters and carefully counting, and I can picture her in a classroom, sitting at an impossibly small chair, a pencil clutched in her hand.
My mental picture expands, seeing the other children in her class, and I feel my stomach tighten with worry.
Slow to warm up to new people and new situations, will her new classmates be kind?  What if they mistake her hesitation for disinterest?  Will her teacher understand that she grows quiet and retreats to the periphery out of shyness and not defiance?  When her voice drops to a whisper, will someone lean in to hear her, encouraging her lovely voice to speak more confidently?
Helping her make this transition is part of my job; I know I need to happily urge her forward into this new phase.
Yet as the summer days drift closer to fall, I find myself reaching for her hand more than necessary, catching her eye to bestow an extra smile, reminding her of how much I love her, hugging her eleventy-billion times each day. 
I yearn to envelop her with all of my love, to make that love tangible to tuck away in a pocket of her backpack, comforting her throughout the day.
I have been a student.  I have been a teacher.
This year, I am a mother, and for the first time, I will be on the other side of the classroom door when the bell signals the beginning of class.
But I will be waiting for her at the end of the day, my arms and heart ready to welcome her home.
going to dance with her little backpack
she's going to look so funny with a regular backpack!
today I'm pouring my heart out about Abbey starting school
come back tomorrow when I talk about a part of back to school that ALWAYS gets me excited...the shopping!

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30 Comments:

  • At August 17, 2011 at 8:14 AM , Anonymous Kir said...

    Oh my god, I'm weeping like an "auntie" ...going to school???? Holy cow!!
    She's going to be GREAT Ang, she's going to take Preschool by storm and have stories and adventures and amazing things to TEACH YOU soon...
    I know it's so hard, but after that first day, that first "let go" it's all good.
     
    You're raising an amazing little girl, now it's time to let the rest of the world know. ;)Shopping???? Did someone say SHOPPING???? I can't wait. !!!
    xo
     

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 8:51 AM , Anonymous Amy said...

    I really think the parents handle the first day of school much worse than the students! I'm sure you will both do great :)

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 9:56 AM , Anonymous Brittney Mclain said...

    This post made me tear up a little.. I know all to well those feelings as my little one started pre school this year too :) There is a song by darius rucker that I like it wont be like this for long? I think thats the name of it, but our children seem to adapt better to these situations than we do :)

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 10:26 AM , Anonymous sweetbutterbliss said...

    It is so hard to let them go. I worry all the time if she'll be safe and have fun. And that people will be nice. It's a constant ache in my heart. I hope it gets better, but probably not. 

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 10:39 AM , Anonymous Working Mommy said...

    She is the cutest little thing!! I'm sure she is going to be fine and all your worry will be for nothing! Good luck to you both :)

    WM

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 10:58 AM , Anonymous My Pajama Days said...

    I have those same worries and desires for my children each year, and now they are going into 4th and 8th grade. Kindergarten was one of the hardest. When The Tortoise got on the bus for the first time, I cried. And now that she is starting her last year of middle school, I think I will cry again. It never gets easier, but with each passing year, I can see the beautiful women that they are growing up to be.

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 11:38 AM , Anonymous Ashley said...

    I can completely relate- I just sent my son to kindergarten on Monday. It is such an overwhelming time!!  I am sure it will go great!

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 11:40 AM , Anonymous shellthings said...

    It's so, so different to face back-to-school as a mom! It sounds like she is excited! I hope she loves it!

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 11:50 AM , Anonymous Tara R. said...

    How exciting for your daughter and you, starting out on this great adventure. Good luck to you both! 

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 2:20 PM , Anonymous Elena Sonnino said...

    Ok I needed a kleenex for this one. I was reminded of when Principessa started Montessori--and all of a sudden realized that she is going to a honest to goodness elementary school this fall.  The whole being a mom and a teacher thing is something I am still attempting to figure out.  Hugs to you! It is definitely harder on us then it is on them!

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 2:23 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Oh, Principessa did Montessori?  We looked into that a little bit, but it was unfortunately fairly cost prohibitive when we factored in Dylan following in two years.  So many great learning concepts at play there!

    Elementary school?  Oh my, I will be a mess!

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 2:23 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you!  I AM very excited for her; it's just when I am alone, thinking about it that I feel sad.

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 2:24 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    It's so funny, because I felt like I had BTS down, between being a student and a teacher.  I thought the mom part would be easy; I mean we're handing them over, not working!

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 2:25 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Oh, I hope he is just loving it!  I remember loving kindergarten and the very, very cool giant letters handing all around the room.

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 2:26 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Wait?  I'm going to feel like this every year?  Oh no :(  Then one day...college...wahhh!

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 2:26 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Oh thank you!  She's getting ready to go to dance in that picture :)

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 2:27 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I worry so much about how the kids treat each other.  I think being a teacher made that a little worse, because I saw so much of the little, petty things that everyone deals with but that make my heart break as a mom!

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 2:30 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    They ARE so very adaptable; thank you for reminding me of that.  I am trying to keep my insecurities to myself, because I don't want to taint her excitement.

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 2:30 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I hope so :)  I've never dealt with pre-school or elementary parents, because the youngest grade I taught was 6th!

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 2:31 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I know that she will love the learning; I am so excited for her for that.

    Thank you for the hugs and support (of both the first day of school and of my other love, shopping!!)

    xoxo

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 3:45 PM , Anonymous sweetbutterbliss said...

    I know. The thought of my kids being bullied breaks my heart. I worry about it all the time. And there isn't much that we can do except be there to support them.

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 5:43 PM , Anonymous Kimberly said...

    Now I'm crying. It's so hard when our little ones go to school. But knowing that you'll be waiting for her, with open arms, after school will make it so much better. Also? Being a mom is so hard!!

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 5:57 PM , Anonymous Missy | The Literal Mom said...

    "Yet as the summer days drift closer to fall, I find myself reaching for her hand more than necessary, catching her eye to bestow an extra smile, reminding her of how much I love her, hugging her eleventy-billion times each day." 
    I still do this every year - even with my 9 year old.  I can't help it.  As much as I'm ready for summer, I can't help trying to demonstrate my love to them a little more in these final days of summer - like I'm fortifying them for the school year.  

    It's what we do as mothers.  

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 6:34 PM , Anonymous Teresa said...

    I am debating on whether or not to send my 4 yr old to preschool this year. I am so attached, and he seems ready. What an exciting and bittersweet time, Good luck!

     
  • At August 17, 2011 at 10:55 PM , Anonymous Chibi Jeebs said...

    I'm not sure why, but hearing about little ones who are excited to start school (as opposed to scared, etc) fills my heart & makes me so happy. :)

     
  • At August 18, 2011 at 3:22 PM , Anonymous Mama Track said...

    Ok, I was seriously doing ok with the fact the boy is starting  preschool this year. Until I read this! Now I'm all weepy and emotional. Because it is a big deal. Good luck to both of us!

     
  • At August 18, 2011 at 3:40 PM , Anonymous Heather H said...

    My daughter starts 4K this year and she is shy too...I have many of the concerns you have.  We just have to hope that things go very well for them!

     
  • At August 18, 2011 at 5:11 PM , Anonymous Elaine said...

    I like how you made me have memories of my childhood as a student but then brought me in to present time with the images of your daughter starting school.  It makes me wonder how our mothers felt as they sent us off... much the same I'm sure.  I hope you both have an easy adjustment... xo

     
  • At August 18, 2011 at 10:23 PM , Anonymous jentos23 said...

    Aw, I can relate. How many days a week will she go? She sounds so excited...my kids play "school" too.

     
  • At August 21, 2011 at 9:53 AM , Anonymous Leighann said...

    Oh this is beautiful.
    My heart aches for you because I remember feeling that way when I sent my daughter to daycare and I know it will be 10x as bad with school.
    Thinking of you!!

     

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