Today is your last day of Kindergarten. I want to remember this day. I want you to remember this day.
Thursday, June 13th, 2013. It’s rainy. You woke up early as you usually do and appeared by my bedside, asked if you could go downstairs by yourself. I told you yes, but insisted that you give me a good morning kiss first. You did. When we came downstairs, you were there, lounging on the couch, watching your cartoons. The morning unfolded as most of our mornings do. You ran around with your sisters. You watched television. You resisted breakfast. You guys went out to the garden to check on the enormous Black Swallowtail Caterpillar you found in the garden yesterday. He was still there, munching away on a little pot of herbs, leaving a trail of tiny green poop nuggets which made you guys laugh.
Inside, Daddy made a smoothie and the blender was so loud and you jumped on the couch and popped around like popcorn, squealing, arms and legs flailing. Your little sisters followed suit as they so often do. And I hung back, the cliched tired mom in her robe, clutching her coffee cup, marveling at the ways of Time. Three girls, my three girls, together, all giggles, the portrait of innocence and happiness.
When it was time to get dressed, you and I decided that you would wear your silk polka-dotted dress from Christmas. Then, we got the idea that your sisters would wear the same one. Moments later, you were all three in that dress, your baby sister crooning, Same dress! Same dress! Downstairs, I tried to get some good pictures of you three, but you didn’t really indulge me. You guys were all energy and silliness; the pictures, blurry. But that’s our life – energy-filled, silly, blurry. And beautiful.
I took you to school. It had started to rain and we huddled under a single umbrella. I panicked some that we wouldn’t get a cab on such a rainy morning, but sure enough, a yellow van pulled up. We climbed in. In the backseat, you snuggled up to me. We talked about this year, about this last day. We took a few pictures together. We stopped talking for a minute and I heard the music. No Woman, No Cry. Oh how I smiled because it was like Bob Marley was singing directly to me. Everything is gonna be alright.
I walked you to the front of school. It was raining harder now, but I had you stop in front of the school sign and smile. There you were in your rain jacket, your hood up over your head, your toothless smile big, clutching your yearbook. And then I kissed you and sent you on in. For the last time, I waited outside the window of your classroom for a final wave. You forgot about me for a minute or two and motored around your classroom, but then you looked out and saw me. You waved.
Today is Arch Day. The day when you walk through that white arch on that big stage into the next year of school. It is not lost on me that I walked through that very arch on that very stage seventeen years ago for one final time. We parents were given the chance to watch a simulcast of the ceremony from a classroom in the school and I wasn’t going to pass this up. I stood with a smattering of other moms and dads in the room where I used to have orchestra practice and watched you hold a little boy’s hand and walk through that arch. Into First Grade.
After, a Kindergarten mom friend and I left. We had that conversation that I think many moms are having this time of year. About how it’s so hard to believe that the year is over. About how it’s so hard to believe that our kids are getting so big. About how the first day of school seems like yesterday. We wandered here, to this little restaurant where we sit now, laptop by laptop, processing it all.
I don’t remember much about Kindergarten. Just that I loved it. Also, I remember the pink crayon. How everyone in the class wanted it and vied for it, even the boys. How it was always worked down to a little nub while so many of the other crayons retained their length. An odd memory that makes me smile. I also have a distinct memory of being in First Grade. Of walking down steps at Little Dalton and pausing and saying, Oh my goodness, I’m actually in a grade now. I remember, and vividly, feeling like I was big stuff.
And you are, my girl. Big stuff. Today is big and it feels big for me. I am so proud of you, of how much you have learned and grown this year. I am proud of your beautiful art and your wonderful stories. I am proud of all the delightful friendships you have formed. I am proud of how much you have loved, and how you have loved, your incomparable teachers. I am proud of you for walking through that arch.
In about an hour, I will walk a few blocks and pick you up for the last time this year. I will scatter some goodbyes and probably fight back tears, Bob Marley’s sweet song echoing in my head. No woman, no cry. We will hold hands and cuddle under my blue umbrella if it’s still raining and we will head home. We will grab your sister and we will go for a special milkshake lunch at your favorite spot. You and your sister will probably wiggle in your seats as you tend to do, draw pictures with crayons, and I will snag a few of your fries and then we will go back out into this rainy day and see what happens. We will go forth unafraid.
Today is your last day of Kindergarten, babe, and I love you to itty-bitty pieces of sky. Know that. Always know that.