For most school systems around the country, the emotion comes when you send your child to kindergarten. It's the first time, typically, that the child is away from home or in a formal school setting (other than daycare) for the entire day. Here, though, a lucky number of lottery-winners get to send their kids to Pre-K, which is all day, at the same school, with the same general schedule and format as the older grades. Thus, diminishing the magnitude of kindergarten and heightening the enormity that is Pre-K.
Not everyone chooses to put their child on the lottery list. Some parents choose to keep their kids in private Pre-K programs, or at home with them, or in a daycare setting. For us, it was a no-brainer. Ben thrived in the same Pre-K program as one of the oldest in his class (missing being in the grade above by just 5 days). Abby is essentially in the same spot, missing the cutoff by only one month.
This is all more than I'm sure you cared to know.
The thing is - when I dropped Ben off that first week of Pre-K, I was a hot mess. Makeup everywhere. Wearing sunglasses to hide it all, even though I'm sure I looked like a fool with them on inside the not-necessarily-brightly-lit primary school. I ate breakfast with him all week in the cafeteria to make sure he'd know how to open his milk carton, and that he'd know what to do when he finished eating, and that he wouldn't get lost heading back to his classroom afterward. The entire situation was an unknown for both of us. I was ten times more terrified than he was. I tried to be brave for his sake, but I'm pretty sure I failed miserably at it. Ben was our first (duh). So, he was probably a little too babied. He wasn't as independent as he could have been. But I quickly found out, he could and would do
Now, I'm facing the same situation with my precious Abby. She, however, has been independent since birth. She has always marched to the beat of her very own drummer. As structured and orderly as Ben is, that's how whimsical and carefree Abby is. She has been grinning ear to ear since she found out she was going to be going to the same school as Ben. Every morning for the past week she has woken up disappointed because she had to wait four, then three, then two, then just one more day to go to school. At bedtime tonight, she practically sprinted to her bed and forced those big blue eyes shut because she wants morning to be here so badly. "Don't forget to wake me up for school, Mommy," she told me before I left her room.
I couldn't possibly.
Maybe it's pregnancy hormones, or the fact that Sam left this afternoon for a TDY in Austin, or because it's normal to get emotional about these things, but dangit, it all came crashing down tonight.
Abby's not going to be here with us tomorrow.
I am going to miss that little imp.
I pray that school is everything her wild imagination has filled her brain with, that she wakes up every morning so excited to go to school, that she will find life-long friends, and learn invaluable lessons - not just of the academic variety.
But, above all, I just want her to stay....Abby.
While Sarah and I figure out what it's like to share each other's company one-on-one all day, my two older kids will be off filling their brains with knowledge, learning common sense, and making friends. That sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Yes. I'll try not to feel so sad about it then.
And I'll try not to think about not having Abby around all day to teach Sarah all of the necessary big sister stuff...like how to make silly faces and where to find the bananas under the flaps of her Little People book.
And I'll put it in the back of my mind how Abby won't be here to hug baby sister's guts out even while she's wearing a Styrofoam bathing suit or to share a snack with her over some blocks and serious conversation.
In the meantime, I'll have to teach Sarah a thing or two about how to cheese for the camera like her beautiful big sis, because I feel some photo ops coming up with little girl #2.
More than anything, I will remember how blessed I am to have had the wonderful opportunity to be at home with these two sisters who, without question, have gone from bickering little girls to best friends over the past nine months. And to think, I was ever upset about losing that silly old job...
I know you're just going to Pre-K, Abby, but, man, I'm going to miss you.