The “Real” First Day of Kindergarten

I really didn’t see it coming the day it hit me that G is starting to gain some independence. I expected it, even prayed for it, but still wasn’t ready when it came so suddenly. Last week, G walked himself to his kindergarten classroom.

In our house, we have been counting down the days until G started kindergarten. Where we live, the schools run on multiple calendars and some even go year-round. G’s first day was just after the Fourth of July. He went one day for staggered entry – each day a small group of kindergarteners arrive and get a tour of the school and take a few readiness assessments. To me, this was a breeze. Bringing G to his classroom that first day was, emotionally, no different than any day I had dropped him off at daycare or preschool.

Even the next week when he started going full time, it was really cool to walk him downstairs from my own classroom where I teach fifth grade to his kindergarten room. It was a little out of the way for me, but I really enjoyed it. I never suggested G walk himself down, either. But somehow, he got the idea, and next thing I know he was doing it.

Out of the blue one day last week, G asked to walk himself down the stairs. We said our goodbyes. I hugged him a little tighter that morning, and I watched him trundle off for the stairwell. My heart broke a little in that moment to see my boy going off on his own. No tears for me, but emotion, yes. It was bittersweet. I miss bringing him to his classroom already.

Preschool Graduation: Triumph Without Tears

G graduated preschool yesterday and in just a few short weeks he will be in kindergarten.

The ceremony included all of the pomp and circumstance of a high school or college commencement, including the processional song, “Pomp and Circumstance”. His preschool even went so far as to rent space at a local historic college and provide caps and gowns. The owner conferred the diplomas on a stage inside the college’s main chapel.

During the ceremony, I had two roles. I had to switch between proud father and photographer. As a dad, it my job to wave encouragingly and clap at the right times. As a photographer, I had to borrow from my experience in the newspaper business to get into the right spot and shoot some great photos. But it was hard for me to shoot inside the chapel. The light was transitional, and I have a limited amount of experience shooting in such conditions. Luckily, I have a trusty Nikon D40 and a long zoom lens.

The day had different meanings and feelings for parent and child. G told us he was happy but nervous. He was happy to be graduating, which I take to mean that he is getting bigger and moving on to “real” school. He told us that he was nervous, because he wasn’t sure what kindergarten would be like.

For Susan and me, it was a milestone we’ve been waiting for, and yet dreading at the same time. Unlike G, we saw the graduation coming for years. We’ve been there before. I still have vague recollections of my own nursery school graduation, and even a few pictures. But we dreaded it because it means our little boy is growing up.

But, this day had to come. Now that it is past, we can only look forward. G will be going to kindergarten at the school where I will be teaching 5th grade this year. We are ready for new milestones.