Though I'm sure Blogland is filled with countless "first day of school" posts, mine seems like the most important. As I got the kids ready to take their annual back to school pictures, my heart was both excited and saddened by the addition of Carter into each picture. Helping them stand where I wanted them, with backpacks and lunchboxes arranged, seemed a bit surreal. How can it be that I now have two children in school?
Madison was so excited about entering second grade. While we were writing her name on every school supply of hers last night, she began to squeel each time she grabbed a new folder to put her mark on it. She had the pleasure of picking out whatever notebooks and folders she wanted for school. Each had a different picture of a puppy on the front. I have no doubt that she will be talking about animal rescue in her class. Her teacher will probably wonder what kind of family this child is living with.
We made it to town and onto the main school road at 7:30am on the nose. I wasn't able to drop her at the front door of the school until 7:45. Fifteen minutes to go about one mile! Traffic is always terrible the first day of school... and it lingers that way a bit the entire week. Thankfully she was on time and was excited to be a 'big kid' that was walking in all on her own. She pointed to the younger kids holding their parents' hands walking into the building and commented,
"I remember being too little to walk in by myself, too. Now, I'm one of the biggest kids at school!"
She's right, she is now in the biggest grade allowed at her elementary school. How did that happen so fast?
Carter couldn't wait to go to his class this morning. When we arrived his best friend Jessie was there. He ran up to greet us and the two boys walked around each table, wide-eyed as can be, searching for the perfect 'before class' activity. They settled on scissors, paper, and glue sticks. Jessie's mother and I watched them together, both of us with our one year olds in our arms. I think we were both in disbelief that this day had actually come and our baby boys were in preschool.
A few minutes after the boys started playing it was clean up time. I was afraid Carter would be a little upset since he had just gotten going on his project, but he is such a good cleaner that he happily cleaned up his spot, and every other spot around the entire class that he thought needed tidying up a bit. The children were instructed to "push their chairs in before sitting on the carpet," but many forgot, so Carter went around pushing all of the chairs in as well. At this point, I realized, he would thrive in this class! He walked to thr colorful carpet and picked his favorite color square to sit on. Seeing him following instructions and being so incredibly well-behaved made me so proud!
It was music and dancing time and I wasn't sure if Carter would want to participate. He did! He did all of the motions and sang all of the words to the three songs and kept looking back at me, obviously proud of himself. During the song "If you're happy and you know it," he looked back at me to make sure it was okay if he actually shouted hooray like the other kids. We have been having the "be a little quiet at school" talk for the past week. A reassuring nod from Mommy made him clap and jump with excitement as he got to shout the next HOORAY with everyone else.
Finally, they lined up to go wash hands because it was breakfast time. (they eat breakfast together every morning, so Carter will eat twice each morning! He'll love that...) I watched him stand nicely in line and walk out of the door. I followed behind with two other moms and I hugged and kissed him goodbye. After our hug I said, "I love you, Carter! Have a fantastic day!" He replied, "I love you too, Mommy! I'm going to go eat with my friends and I'll see you later."
He is going to be fine!
Samuel and I went back to the van, and as I started buckling him into his carseat, I couldn't help but stare at the two empty spots in my van that have been filled all summer. I'm fairly used to Madison being at school, but having her home was so fun. I will definitely miss our lazy mornings together and our late nights up reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Seeing Carter's empty carseat brought tears to my eyes. I thought I would hold it together and avoid a tear fest, but I couldn't.
How is that seat empty? How is he already four years old? Where did the time go?
The drive home was much too quiet. Samuel fell asleep (he did have to get up two hours earlier than he has in months this morning,) and I was only left with my thoughts and the radio station taking calls from other mommies that had dropped their babies off at school, too.
I realized that I wasn't sad that they were at school. I'm not sad that they're not here at home. I know that I will go get them in a little while and we'll have fun all afternoon and evening. School starting is sad, for me, because it is just a huge reminder of how fast children grow. Taking Samuel into Carter's class was so strange. He is the same age that Carter was when Madison was in that same classroom, with the same teacher. (per my request!) How could it have been three years ago that Carter was on my hip and we were taking Madison to class? How can Madison now be in second grade and not sitting at the table cutting and pasting like Carter was?
Time just goes too fast. Today is a great reminder to make each moment count. Not only with our kids, but with our friends, our spouses, and people in general. I know that today when I pick up my big kids from school, I will have a new found appreciation for them. I will hug them, kiss them, and be genuinely excited to bring them home to spend time with them.
I hope everyone else's first day of school went as well as ours did!