The oversized bookbags, too big for the little bodies, hung in a carnival of red, orange, blue, pink and camouflage over the backs of the computer chairs. Their water bottles were standing at attention in their appropriate places at the desks. The pencils were sharpened. The clean white pages of the notebooks were ready to be put to work. The pictures had been taken by the proud, jittery parents.
This was it. This was kindergarten. This was Quinn’s first day. And this was the first and last day we’d be allowed to stay with him for a few minutes in the classroom after he arrived. And now it was time for us to go.
We had imagined a look of horror on his face, then a meltdown as he realized what was happening, that he was about to be left in a new place with a new teacher who would be getting him to do new stuff. Quinn has a tendency to freak out under stress.
But today, we underestimated him. There was a nervousness in his eyes, you could tell. The element of the unknown was there, no matter how much we had tried to prepare him and get him excited for kindergarten. But it really seemed that, while there was a moment or two when he might have wanted to run over and grab Mom’s legs, he knew he was supposed to be beyond that.
He was off playing with friends he knew from pre-school. As time wound down, from halfway across the room, we gave him an “I love you” and a “See you later.” In return, we got an “Okay” from him as he turned back to play with his friends. And that was pretty much it. We left.
From the moment Quinn was born, I knew that the start of kindergarten would mark the end of the beginning. And it is. This is a job for Quinn. Pre-school he could skip. School he can’t. Independence is a process. Today it hit a new gear. And that’s a little nerve-wracking for all of us. Today, it was Quinn helping calm his parents’ nerves.