And, as expected, I did worse than she did.
On Tuesday morning, she jumped out of bed as soon as her new princess alarm clock went off singing. She was up and dressed before I could even open my eyes. (seeing as I had not gotten in until about 1:30 or 2 from LA.)
My daughter burst into my room and said, "I am more excited than if I was riding a huge rollercoaster." (I assumed that was big. Even though she has never ridden one, it summed it up pretty good. I got the point :)
The whole morning she was singing and buzzing around the house. She picked out her own clothes and came out and twirled. "Don't I look fancy?" She went on to explain (in great detail) why she chose her outfit and why it matched.
I think we were even 5 minutes early leaving the house, which for those who know me, know how hard that is and are probably in shock right now b/c I am always 15 minutes late.
When we got to the school, she clutched onto my hand. I did everything I could not to cry all the way into the building, down the hall, down the stairs and down her hall. Literally, I had a lump in my throat that reached my chest. I could not believe this was my little girl, going to big girl school, all day, away from me.
She was holding it together as if she was a pro. Me? squeezing back tears with every step. shaking. feeling sick to my stomach.
As we walked into the room, she slowed down a bit. She hung up her bag and turned to me: "Where are you going to sit Mommy?"
"Well, aren't you the room parent? where are you going to sit?"
Gulp. "Oh honey. I am the room parent does not mean I STAY in the room all day."
Her face dropped. I almost heard her confidence hit the floor. "What?"
"You stay here on your own."
"But i thought you were room parent?"
And then I lose it too. I still tried so much to hold it together but when you are looking into those big hazel eyes, filled with water. It's hard!
Then the teacher walks in - and it is a SUBSTITUTE!
Are you kidding me?
She still wasn't crying but what got me the most was that her lip started to quiver. She was TRYING not to cry. She kept looking at the kids and back at me. She whispered under her breath, "Mommy? Could you just stay 5 more minutes?"
In that moment, I realized how much older she was now. A year ago, she would have cried and not cared who was around. (Usually in a public place :) Now, she was embarrassed to cry. She was worried about the kids in the classroom. She was trying to hold it in like I was.
The bell rings for school to start.
I said, "Honey I'm going to go now. The bell just rang. School starts now and you will have such a blast here."
Then, she completely lost it and gripped onto my leg like a koala bear and its mommy.
My writer-side kicked in.
I took a little leather "S" off my keychain and clipped it to her belt. "Did you know this was a magic key chain?"
She stops crying for a second. "Really? how do you know?"
"Because I use it all the time and it helps me feel safe."
She smiles and wipes her face. She sits down on the rug and watches me leaving, tears rolling down her still-baby cheeks.
I waved and walked out.
My tears started and I cried all the way to the car and in the car.
Images of my baby girl growing up flashed through my mind. My emergency delivery for "failure to progress." The hard first 6 months when we were not sure what affect her heart defect would have on her and us. The emergency room visits. Her first steps. Her first words. Her 5 years flashed in front of me.
Now she was a big girl.
I watched the clock all day, waiting until I could pick her up. I called the school a couple of times and they said if she was really upset, the counselor would visit her. It's not like PreK where I could just go get her early. make her feel better with a mommy lunch or ice cream cone. I couldn't not sneak back in the school and peek through the window to see she was OK. That no one was being mean to her. That she was not sad. In K, you have to sign in.....evidently in blood if you want to visit the classroom.
Finally 2 oclock.
I race out the door, speed to the school, and pace outside, waiting for her class to be released. Different scenarios played out in my head. What if she cried all day? what if she hated it? what if someone pushed her? what if someone hurt her feelings?
Then, I see her little face come around the corner.
A smile from ear to ear.
She runs into my arms and hugs me.
"how was your day honey? was it OK?"
I wait for the horrible day to unfold.
"Mommy, I sang I love kindergarten all the way down the hall. But I whispered it to myself so no one could hear."
The panic floating inside me all day seeped out. I was so happy for her. So excited for her to start a new life.
"And you know what else Mommy?"
"Tomorrow, I want to walk myself to my classroom. Without you."
"Well let's just take it slow."
"I can do it."
"I know you can. But I'm not ready for that yet. What were the happy parts about your day?"
She grips my hand and as we walk to the car, she fills me in about music class, art, and reading. She tells me about her two new friends. And explains the word "absent" to me.
"Any sad parts?"
There it is. My baby girl was gone. Replaced by a wonderful and brave little girl.
"Well, there was one thing."
"I missed you."
Today she did much better.
Me? Not so much.