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Reality Sets In

Yesterday morning I went in at 6:30 to
wake Maddie for school. She blinked in the light, rolled over, and
said, “But it’s so EARLY!”

The kindergarten honeymoon is over.

I’d noticed on Tuesday morning that
Maddie’s leave-taking in her classroom was a bit more clingy
than usual, but I know it’s a lot of new things all at once
and left it alone. Then she reminded me to ask her teachers if
loveys (as in her silky) are allowed at school – which they
are, if they stay in the backpack. When we discovered the answer
was “yes”, Maddie looked noticeably relieved. So
I’ve noticed that the 100% enthusiasm for kindergarten was
giving way to a wee bit of apprehension.

But Wednesday morning was a different animal altogether. That
morning, Maddie said flat-out, “I don’t want to go to
kindergarten. I want to stay home.” When pressed for an
explanation, she simply said, “I get lonely during the day,
and I really miss you and just want to come home.”


Wednesday was also the last day parents are allowed to walk
children to class; from here on out we’re required to say
good-bye at the door and pray they make it to their rooms on their
own. Maddie learned this right as she was walking in the door
Wednesday morning, and I saw the panic and near-freak-out run
across her face. She made it to the room, though, with me walking
behind her so she’d know she can get there on her own. We did
the quick step into the room and hug thing, and then she began
crying quietly. “I really will miss you! Please don’t
go yet! Ask if you can stay just for a bit!”

I gently disengaged myself, loved on her, and said, “You
know, hon, you’re going to have such a great time here. I
know it’s a long time to be away from me, but you’re
learning so much and will have so much fun. I just know it. Hang in
there for me, and we’ll do something special after

The bribe worked, and I got out of the room. Sixty seconds later,
though, Maddie dropped her lunch bag into the basket at her door,
saw me, and made a break for it, flinging her arms around me. I led
her back in and she obediently stayed, but it broke my heart to
walk away without looking back.

I’ve spoken to some other moms who all agree –
Wednesday is the worst day for back-to-school week. The kids are
exhausted, the novelty’s worn off, and they’re frankly
finished. I’ve already told Maddie I’ll pack an
extra-special lunch to celebrate her first solo entry into the
school – which has been re-dubbed “Hold A
Friend’s Hand Day”. Maddie, Elise, and a couple other
kids are meeting at the door together today, and will hold hands
for moral support as they march in unattended. And later, Maddie
will dine on grilled cheese and yogurt pretzels and apples with
fresh caramel sauce for dipping.

Yes, I am bribing my child. Yes, I am soothing her with food. If I
could fit myself into her bento box I would, but alas, I’m
not tiny and square.

My girl is nothing if not resilient in the face of unhappiness,
obedient under misery. I love that about her, even as I ache to
watch her stoically doing something she really doesn’t want

Time to go get her up.

It gets easier, right?


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