After some of the most demanding, awe-filled, and eye-wateringly exhausting years of your life, after the first smiles, first words and too many potty mishaps to count, the day finally arrives. It’s your child’s first day of kindergarten.
For most parents, this impending milestone evokes a whole slough of emotions as memories of the past surface and hopes for the future boil over. Suddenly the years of nurturing, sleepless nights, and transformative experiences seem to culminate into a moment no parent ever forgets—when they release their most precious possession into the great unknown of grade school.
Forever etched in any parent’s memory is the nervous smile on her face as you release her soft hand, swallow the lump in your throat, wish her good luck and walk out the classroom door. As you close it behind you and take pause at the simultaneous victory and grief of this metamorphic moment, take comfort in knowing that if you could read the minds of all the other parents standing in that same space, they would all be thinking more or less the same things.
2. My baby is all grown up!
3. Crap, my mascara is going to run.
4. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.
5. I should have just homeschooled.
6. Would it be totally inappropriate to go for just one more hug?
7. Did I forget her snack?
8. No. But oh God! It’s nut-free, isn’t it? I checked twice.
9. Ok. Get your act together. She’s got this! She’s ready! I’m ready! She’s independent, she knows her alphabet, she’ll love music class, she’ll make friends no problem.
10. Oh my God, she’s NOT ready!
11. I should have taught her the numbers up to one thousand. And read more books with her. And coloured more. And taught her how to hold scissors correctly. And cuddled her more. And packed a little note in her lunch to remind her I love her. And left her with more babysitters. Or less? I never should have gone back to work. I should have set a better example.
12. OMG! She can’t wipe her butt properly.
13. I hope she doesn’t pee her pants.
14. I remember the day Billy Peters peed his pants when I was in Kindergarten. God, we called him Pee-pants Peters until… We STILL call him Pee-pants Peters.
15. Oh man. Kids can be cruel. Her classmates will eat her alive.
16. No, they won’t. She’ll eat them alive.
17. I hope she remembers to be kind and say please and thank you. I hope she finds a friend. I hope she doesn’t feel scared. I hope she isn’t too shy to ask for help if she needs it.
18. Oh my God. What if she gets sick? What if she pukes? She was kind of lethargic last week.
19. What if someone kidnaps her from the playground? No, that’s stupid. The playground is well-supervised by competent professionals. Isn’t it?
20. How will she find the bus? What if she gets on the wrong bus?
21. She’ll be fine. We’ve done 3 practice runs.
22. Awwww. She’s SUCH a good kid! So responsible, so charming, so smart! The teachers will love her! The kids will love her! What’s not to love??
23. Oh my God. What’s not to love? She can be a bit bossy and grabby and whiny. Oh gosh, the whining!!
24. Woo hoo! No whining for me for the next 6 hours!
25. I need coffee.
26. No. Wine.
27. I feel guilty having a coffee, just leaving her there…
28. …with STRANGERS! Who are these people anyway?
29. I guess Miss Paulson was a stranger on my first day of Kindergarten. And she was AMAZING. She’d let us play at the sand table everyday.
30. I wonder if they have a sand table here?
31. Oh! But what if she gets a terrible teacher?! Like Mr. Woolgrove that I had in Grade 2. He was such a stickler. She’d be scarred for life.
32. I MUST look into homeschooling.
33. What is that smell? It’s kid-stink. I gotta get out of here.
34. And just leave my baby? My BABY!! This feels wrong.
35. It seems like just yesterday that we were bringing her home from the hospital, now she’s in big kid school.
36. I remember her gurgle-y little baby laugh and how chubby her little legs were when she used to toddle around the living room. Oh, she was SO gorgeous. I’ll never forget when she used to call her dad ‘Papap’ and give him slobbery kisses after work and how proud she was her first night in a big-girl bed and how she cried herself blue in the face when she split her finger on the cement. My absolute favourite was taking her to Cuba when she was three, but then she got that weird rash and diarrhea on the plane.
37. MY BABY!!!!!!
38. I should have another baby.
39. No, I shouldn’t.
40. It’s another exciting chapter for all of us.
41. Ok. Get it together. Seriously, what is that smell?
42. Oh, God. Is that..? No! It can’t be. That’s Nathan Olson… F*&k. His son is in my daughter’s class. Now I get to picture our one-off drunken make-out session for the next 8 years… [avoids eye contact and hastily exits stage right].