Kindergarten Daze

Will you hold my hand? Please? Because I don’t think I can do this without you. I am very scared and kinda nervous. It’s a big change. Huge. And I’m not sure I’m gonna like it very much. Will you still be there waiting for me when it’s over? Will you hold my hand at the bus stop? Will everything be okay? Promise me it will. Promise! Pinky-swear!

Okay.  I’m ready.

I think.


My daughter had her kindergarten screening yesterday. I watched as they snapped her picture, her big hazel eyes watering, her mouth quivering as she was trying to stand up straight and be a big girl. A teacher draped a star-shaped name tag around her neck and guided her off to a room for testing.

Without me.

I sat in my little chair in the hallway with a couple of other parents. All of us thinking the same thing.  I can’t believe it’s time. I’m not ready…I’m not ready…I’m not ready for this!

One of my earliest memories was my own kindergarten screening. It was 1975 and my father brought me. I remember starting to cry and having to take off my glasses the second the teacher asked me to hop across the room. What if I fell down? What if I couldn’t do it?  There were bright lights and big adults with clipboards asking me all kinds of questions, the room was noisy and echoed too much. When I had to walk the balance beam, I think I almost passed out. It was a lot of pressure for a little kid. My dad was great though, he kept smiling at me, giving me little hugs to let me know it would be all right, this big transition into school.

Now I sat at my own daughter’s screening and I wondered if my dad had felt that same terrible tug at his heart as I did now.

As my daughter was led away, I was interviewed by another teacher. She asked me if I was familiar with the school. I told her I had an older son who was in third grade. She put her hand on her heart and smiled at me, “Oh, so this must be your last one?” I could only nod. “Oh! It’s so hard! You will cry, trust me. The moment she gets on that bus, you will cry. I know I bawled when my last one left for school. Now he’s in college, left home and his room is empty.” I sighed, fighting back a tear. This wasn’t helping me any.

After an hour and a half I caught a glimpse of my sweet baby girl, down the hall, sitting stoically next to another boy, twirling her little name tag necklace. I kept willing her to turn around and look at me, so I could wave or smile to let her know I was there.  Look, Julia! Look at mommy! Mommy’s right here! I thought, as I tried to get her attention, waving at her like an idiot, just another sappy parent on the brink of losing it. She turned slightly and saw me, gave me a quick wave then turned back toward the teacher.

And I was left sitting there alone in the hall, trying to sit up straight, not cry and be a big girl.

My first day of kindergarten. My brother is right behind me, trying to look cool and also like he doesn’t know me.

117 thoughts on “Kindergarten Daze

  1. Snoring Dog Studio

    How adorable you look! But your mom and dad made it and so will you. You’ll be fine, you’ll be fine!

    That was some big lunchbox for such a little girl…

  2. LOVE the pics! Don’t love, the love pangs… totally had the feelings you shared in your post. Make sure you two keep on talking about the experience and it will get easier but you know that. Be proud and continue to grow as your girl is. It’s OK to cry cause it’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a symptom of loving and that is a beautiful thing.

    1. Well if crying isn’t a sign of weakness, I am one strong mama because that’s all I seem to be doing lately with all these big changes. You are right, being a parent is a beautiful thing and I am more than blessed.

  3. Running from Hell with El

    Big hugs my friend. Deep breath. It is going to be okay and it gets so much easier. My hardest one to let go was my first (a girl) . . . but it was almost as hard with her little brothers. But it is good for them and more hard yet beautiful stages follow. Good job Mama. And lovely post.

    1. I have to say, my first (my son) was very hard as well. Probably a bit harder as I had no idea how quickly he’d adjust to going to school all day. It’s the fear of the unknown. And I suppose a bit bittersweet knowing your kids don’t need you as much anymore, they’re ready to face the big world.

      At least this time around I know my girl will be okay on that bus and she will make it to school safely. (I actually wanted to follow my son on the bus his first day!)

  4. I love your writing, Darla. The pics, nostalgic. Alas, it’ll have to do me because I have virtually no memory of my kindergarten year, save only one slightly embarrassing moment.

    I can tell you that when Ginny started kinder last year, I think I was the only parent doing cartwheels down the hallway. She was way ready. My first time in 10 years to be home with no children, that elation trumped every other emotion I might otherwise have had. Other moms must’ve thought me detached, not a single tear shed over my littlest one “growing up.” I just felt too good for me and Ginny — it was just celebratory, for both of us.

    It’ll be a happy, happy day for you and your Little Miss J, too. And think of all the uninterrupted blogging and writing time you’ll have on your hands. That, or cleaning toilets and sink drains in complete quiet and contemplation.

    1. I remember bits and pieces of my kindergarten year. I remember being super shy at circle, hating to wear my glasses. Little snippets of memories.

      I totally hear you on the cartwheel thing. Being a mom means feeling all kinds of mixed emotions and I can freely admit to being excited both kids will be in school full time this fall. I’ve been a SAHM for so long, it’s huge transition for me as well, a good one overall though. I look forward to rediscovering who the hell I am again! haha!

      As for uninterrupted blogging, not likely. I’m going back to school and working soon. The blog may be neglected (along with the toilet cleaning)

      1. Your picture when you were little could have passed for my twin! Wow! I can relate to a lot of what you say, I’m a single mother of two; a boy and a girl, and I’ve been through hell and back for them. Who am I kidding? I’m selfish, it’s all been for me and the love I have for them.

        There is no way I could ever think about not having them–ever. They are my life and now they are both helping me get a children’s book out starring “Eris Ferris.” If nothing else, this will be an adventure we can share together!

        1. I hear you, to think of all I went through just to get pregnant and stay pregnant. I am very blessed to have both my kids in my life. I intend to make time slow down enough so I can enjoy every milestone to its fullest. To say it goes fast is putting it mildly. Good luck with your book!

          1. Right! I had over 10 miscarriages and recall each time I got pregnant, wondering how long it would last. I got had my first baby at age 36 and my second at 40, after a horrible car accident. (a truck running a red light hit me @ 7 mos. pregnant) Thank God my child is bright and 100%.

            Single now because my ex couldn’t handle my “imperfections.” Struggling to do it all without the ability of working at “regular” job or continue my degree. This is why I write! Isn’t it amazing how the fraction of a second can change a life? The amazing thing is, if not for this accident, I never would be a writer! My first book, out in a few weeks is about a little girl named Eris Ferris! (easy reader)

  5. I was having a tears at the back of my eyeballs morning…now they are splattered across the front of my blouse (the tears, not the eyeballs). Thanks. Thanks a lot.

    You have such a way of sharing your emotions in a straightforward manner – not syrupy or overwrought – just the right touch of terror, humor, longing, wistfulness and nostalgia.

    1. Sorry, hope you had a tissue handy, Katy! While writing it I cried (good lord, I am such a sap)

      I appreciate your comments because I wanted to get my point across here using as little words as possible, just my feelings open wide.

      1. You know, my son got up the next morning after kindergarten screening and got ready for “kiddie garden” He did not understand he had to wait until fall…

    1. Haha! Yes, those were the days! And of course, back when I went, preschool was unheard of. I never went. When I turned five it was, ok, off to kindergarten (half days though….)

  6. Darla, I wish you would share this with the #yeahwrite community. This should be entered in the weekly challenge, which opened today.

    The way you wrote this was beautiful. I agree with what K8 said. The pictures fit into the story wonderfully, but it was the words that really made this special. I especially like how you were the one trying to be a big girl at the end. Ain’t it the truth.

    1. Oh, thanks, Lenore! I am glad you like it. I will be sure to look at the link later, it sounds very interesting.

      Yes, this post was also about me trying to be a big girl and the words at the very beginning were my thoughts.

  7. What a dear, dear post. I don’t have children, so I can only imagine what this must feel like–and you have shown me brilliantly. Great writing here. The photos are ADORABLE!

  8. Aw, sweetie. I’ve got a lump in my throat reading your tender words and remembering my baby’s first day of kindergarten. The teachers were way too experienced to comment on why I needed to wear sunglasses in the dim hallway as I briskly walked away from her classroom.

    1. I am hoping I can keep together when she gets on the bus that first day. At least I know her big brother will be there with her right by her side. It was hard when he went because he was all alone.

  9. My oldest son was so full of self-confidence that letting him go to school was no problem. He announced after the screening that he had made several new friends and he couldn’t wait to see them all again when school started. When my twins started school, I went with them. Fortunately, the school needed a math teacher, so no one thought it was strange that I was always at the school with my children. My teary day came on the twins’ last day as seniors. I was going to have to come to school the next day without them. I cried through all my classes. Somehow I survived and finished the year, plus two more after that. Then I, too, moved on.

    1. Oh! I just bet you did, must have been doubly hard considering you were there at the school all that time. But you’re right, I will survive. Just got to keep thinking of the fact that I am blessed to have kids in my life and cherish every milestone.

  10. You bring back memories, Darla. When Ryan went to kindergarten, I cried. A lot. But I was 7 months pregnant and had that to occupy me when I wasn’t working, and kindergarten was only half-days. But, six years later, when I came home to an empty house after dropping Christian at his first day of all-day kindergarten, I bawled like a baby off and on the whole day. I feel your pain…but, by this time next year it will be less. Hang in there. (Hugs)

    1. You’re right, I think I’ll have adjusted better by fall. I think the fact it’s my last child is why it’s hitting me so hard. I don’t have a baby or toddler at home to occupy myself with anymore. I am officially done with being a stay-at-home-mom and it’s something I’ve been for 10 years.

  11. Cried now, and I’ll cry with you when she goes.

    Our baby graduates this month. Just 2 weeks ago (I think) he started Kindergarten. His comment after the first day? “It was just like the old days, only different.” Hugs – MJ

    1. You are so right, MJ. We go to pick up our baby at school this weekend – finishing her sophomore year in college. But kindergarten was just 2 weeks ago!!!

  12. Big hugs. I wish I could say that I relate to you, but when my little man went off to kindergarten, he’d already been 3 years in preschool; two of them going by bus. And when he started preschool at 2, I was so fried that I was dying for that 3 hr. break when I didn’t have to deal with his sensory meltdowns and not sleeping well. That said, this was very beautifully written. And I loved seeing your photos. Too cute!

    1. I was fried with my son, too. I know of what you speak! I was pretty eager for a break by the time he went off to kindergarten. Once I knew he was safe on the bus and made it through the first week, I felt totally fine with it. I know I’ll get over it with Julia too eventually…sigh….

  13. Hi,
    Fantastic photos, you were very cute, and I love the lunch box. I had mine for ages, and kept it in the bottom of my wardrobe for many years, but sadly somewhere down the track I lost it, I don’t know what happened to it.
    You are about to start another chapter in your life, embrace it, and do things you may of wanted to do for a long time. 🙂

    1. I sure wish I had kept the lunchbox and so many other things from my childhood. Thanks, Mags, I will embrace everything as it comes along and enjoy the hell out of the rest of my life.

  14. You were so adorable! And how about the lady’s handbag? Nice, huh! I remember how hard it was with my son and how he would beg me to stay just a little longer. Ahh, time flies. Enjoy these moments.

  15. You post reminded me of a similar moment my wife and i had a few years ago, as we dropped our youngest off at college. It was a beautifully sweet and difficult time for us, especially my wife. The 5 hour drive home without our baby in the car was strange as we wrapped our heads around not having any children left at home. Finally, we arrived home only to discover that our son’s plans had fallen through and he ended hanging around for 3 or 4 more months before finally leaving for a few months.

    So…bittersweet with a dash of reality.

    Enjoyed your post very much.

    1. I have a feeling it will be the same with my kids. They might leave, then come back briefly during college. I know I did the same. I suppose I can hold off on the empty nest thing for years to come as my daughter’s only five.

  16. Is it YOU in the first picture? Because you look just like Julia!

    I love this post. In the album my mom just made for my 30th, there’s a picture of my first day going kindergarten. I look so shy and terrified. (I totally was. I remember, LOL) You captured that moment so perfectly here, from a child’s perspective and a mother’s!

    The last picture is great, too! He is so playing it cool.

  17. Those pictures are so priceless, Darla. I don’t have children myself, but I am a sap when it comes to EVERYTHING so I can still relate to this story.

    Maybe it’s an American thing (or maybe my memory is terrible), but I can’t recall getting screened for kindergarten. I think we just went?

    1. I know what you mean, Dana. I was just as sappy before I had any kids.
      I’m just a very emotional person in general, I guess. And hey, even if you don’t have kids you were a kid once and remember those scary first days at school, I know I do.

      Your line, I think we just went? made me laugh. I’m not sure the screening was that thorough here…they told me to jump across the room, throw a ball, walk on a balance beam, write my name. That was it.

      1. I think I would have remembered going ballistic before a kindergarten test. I was EXTRA SHY as a young girl, so something like a screen/test would have freaked me right out. I might never have recovered, even if it was just walking on a balance beam and writing my name.

        1. Me too! Which is why I wanted to cry at mine. As you can see by my pictures, I was pretty shy and wore glasses, which really didn’t help matters when it came to being picked on. I look at the young me and I just want to put my arm around her and tell her not to worry about a thing.

          1. I feel that way about my five-year old self, too. I was originally enrolled in French immersion kindergarten but was so frustrated 2 weeks in because I couldn’t understand a bloody thing, so I begged my mom to transfer me into English school. She did. I look back now– not knowing how to speak a lick of French– and wish that I would have been tough enough to hack it as a five-year old. (I also wish my mom wasn’t such a suck and had told me to tough it out a bit longer rather than caving at the first chance and switching me into English school.) I could have been a language genius!

  18. What a beautiful story. It reminds me of watching my oldest crying as she was about to get on the bus with the big kids. The schoolbus driver tried to reassure me that my daughter would be OK. The driver said she’d handle it. I guess she did, but she couldn’t know that I was crying, too, as I walked back home alone.

  19. Curly Carly

    You were adorable! And I’m sure by the time your daughter starts, the sadness of it all will have worn away a little. But…I don’t have kids so I probably don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m sorry. Ignore this 😦

  20. cooper

    september 1975..i’m not even going to say that I was going into my sophomore year….of college.

    1st day of kindergarten – always a big deal. Large apron strings to cut….

      1. cooper

        on balance i’d have to say ’75 was a good year…of what i can remember. I never did pre-K, but my kids did even though their Mom was home with them. I think it was tougher on her than the kids…

  21. Beautiful post Darla with some really nice pictures. These pictures must be very precious to you, as they hold some beautiful memories. I just wonder, when a man turns in to father, does he feel these same emotions as a mother does?
    I always enjoy when you, Melissa and Lenore write about your kids. You people are too good with the role of a mother. Mother’s day is getting closer. I hope some wonderful gifts from your kids are waiting for you people. 🙂

    1. I’ve no doubt a father feels the same way, Arindam. My husband is a very sensitive guy and he also tears up when we talk about our daughter going to school next fall. Being a daddy’s girl is a powerful thing and it’s that much harder to let go.

      1. Now the truth is out Darla. Now you can never ever say that, “Why men can’t cry”?
        I hope you remember that post of yours, which I am talking about.

  22. singleworkingmomswm

    Thanks for sharing your photos, Darla. I really enjoyed this post, as mommies we are empathetic to all of these transitions. I picked up Maycee the other day to give her a hugs, and her legs were heavy and almost touched the ground she’s grown so much. I wanted to cry, myself, and “wish” back the days when I could hold her in one hand practically to my chest. XOXO-SWM Oh, and I miss those metal lunchboxes-the soft ones you buy kids these days just aren’t the same! I had Strawberry Shortcake!

    1. I was just saying that to my husband. I tried to pick Julia up last week and her legs are so long, she’s almost as big as me now! I can barely lift her. So sad! Just yesterday she was a tiny thing. Just yesterday my SON was a tiny little ball of love that fit perfectly under my chin. Wah!

  23. I can so relate to this, Darla. The first day my youngest went to school, I was busy cleaning when I stopped and called his name. He didn’t answer, so I called louder. Then I ran frantically around the house searching for him. He was nowhere to be found, so I ran out in the yard screaming his name. When it dawned on me that he was at school, I just sat in a heap in the middle of the yard and bawled like a baby.

  24. I remember that kindergarten screening day as being pretty intimidating with all those adults and clipboards. They should let the 1st graders run the kindergarten screening so the kindergarteners don’t feel intimidated.

    1. No kidding! All my memories of that time are fuzzy but I do remember being either scared of really bored when it came to school. The 1st graders would’ve added the right touch of mayhem.

  25. That last photo is fantastic! You are da bomb, Darla! What is on your lunchbox? I can’t make it out. I love old lunchboxes. I’d collect them in fact, so long as it wouldn’t turn me into one of those weird kitschy collection freaks (because it would).

    *Sigh* I about bawled when my daughter had her screening a few weeks ago. And she’s my first. So you mean I have to go through this again in three years? I’ll never make it.

        1. If only it was empty. In fact, there is more crap in there than there ever has been. Children don’t go away, they simply accumulate crap until it spontaneously combusts.

          1. Have I not told you yet about The Marcia Archives? My parents tried to send me home with my crap several times. Even on into my late 20s. I’d always “forget” when I left their house. One day I heard someone at my door. When I opened it, there were boxes sitting on the front steps. I could hear tires squealing down the street.

    1. Raggedy Ann! My brother had Adam 12. Wish I still had them both so I could sell them for peanuts on eBay.

      I think my first kindergarten experience with my son was hard only because I wasn’t sure he’d come back once he got on that bus. Once I was secure in the knowledge that the teachers do in fact keep track of the kids, I could breathe easier and you will too, Angie.

    2. You mean they don’t take their crap with them?? I’ll have to remember to invest in one of those portable Pod storage units…(my kids will probably end up living in the storage unit in my yard…)

  26. Another beautifully written post about the joys of motherhood. We can all identify with that lump in the throat feeling when your little girl goes to big school – oh man they grow so fast – but then when you added the photos of you on your first day of school that really was the cherry on the top. What marvellous photos!

    1. Thanks, Rosie. I’m beginning to realize now that my kids are growing up at lightning speed that all these milestones are bittersweet. I’ll just make sure to take lots of pictures and video and enjoy every moment.

  27. Oof. Yeah, I remember that screening for my oldest and his first day. It wasn’t as painful as everyone said it would be for me, though. Probably because he had been attending a daycare/pre-school for his entire young life up until that point, so I was used to dropping him off at some institution for others to watch him while I worked all day. It wasn’t really all that much different, just a different setting. My youngest starts next year. We’ll see if that changes my outlook.

    I have no memories of my actual first day of kindergarten. I love your pics of your own days. You were super adorable!

    1. I worked full time briefly with my son (my oldest) and he was in preschool for years. so he and I were both ready to cut those strings when kindergarten came. He also didn’t start until he was six years old, his preK teacher recommended he stay back an extra year–best decision I ever made because he was not ready for full day school. My daughter is more than ready for full day school. I think she could probably land a job at a law firm tomorrow if I let her.

  28. After my youngest’s first day of school, he said, “I’m never coming back here again!” I wanted to say, “Okay.” He’s a freshman in college now and we still both feel the same way. I’m leaving for my daughter’s college graduation in a few minutes (waiting for my husband to pick out a shirt so catching up on some blog reading – ha,ha I just got your title after reading Easy on Sunday Morning – you’re a MAINE – iac- talk about kindergarten daze) need to bring some tissues.

    1. I remember my son truly hated school when he was in preschool, he was just a ball of energy and couldn’t sit still for a second. Now he loves going and I’m very happy we kept him back an extra year.

      Congrats on your daughter’s college graduation! Now that is a moment I will be sure to get all weepy over.

  29. Having twins the first day of JK was both a relief and a sadness. When I went to pick them up at the end of the day though, I asked them how they liked their new teacher, and one of my little darlings replied, `She`s a jerk,` much to my shocked surprise. I had never heard him use that word before -ever. He was the kid who absolutely loved everyone he met. I didn`t know what to do. Where do you look aftter that? We left Miss Jerk at the door of the classroom surrounded by all the good moms.

    1. Ah, kids… The things they say, huh. Always surprising, never boring. My kids have come up with a few blunt things before. At least you can say they are honest to a fault. If they don’t like something, they’ll be sure to tell you about it.

  30. Dammit. Where are my Kleenxes? Only two kids at our kindergarten orientation cried when they were pulled out of the room away from their parents. Both boys. One mine. I couldn’t tell how many parents were teary- I had something in my eye.

  31. Sweet post!

    But, what is a kindergarten screening? I don’t recall any sort of screening thing when I took my two kids off to kindergarten or when I went myself, for that matter.

    1. The screening is just some basic test of skills. They have the kids do gross motor stuff…then they write their name, ABC’s etc. They are evaluated by a speech therapist, their hearing is tested…it was over in like an hour, just enough time for me to sniffle and cry a bit.

Tell me about it.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s