September 9, 2010

Yesterday was a big one in our house.  It was Graham’s first day of kindergarten.

When he was an infant, I actually imagined this day.  At that time, I could not ever see myself being apart from him for a whole day.  I could not imagine a day when I would put him on a bus and into the care of a bus driver, a teacher, and school children – all of whom would be strangers.  I could not believe he would ever be a big boy because, as we all know, it is big boys (and girls) who go to kindergarten.

Having children is complicated.  You don’t go from those confusing and highly emotional days of your child being an infant to getting on the school bus at age 5¾ overnight.  There are many transitions, many milestones, many ups and downs, and in our case, another child added to the family along the way.  There are babysitters, play groups, and preschools that prepare you for the separation and for the school journey.  There are also things like the terrible two’s or three’s or even four’s which make it very clear that having your child in the care of someone else might be a very good thing for a time.

This is not Graham’s first time getting on a school bus.  He spent all last year in an afternoon developmental preschool and came home four days a week on a bus.  I walked through the halls of a real live public school (as opposed to his regular little kid preschool) with him on those days trying to stay out of the way of the 5th graders running out the door for recess.  I got a real taste for what kindergarten would be for him.

So, I figured I was ready.  I didn’t think that I would be an emotional wreck sending him off on his first day.  Because he is such an easygoing child, I knew that he would have a relatively easy time with this next step in his life.  He did say to me, “I might be a little bit scared so I will give you a hug”, which very nearly broke my heart.  When the time came and the little bus came barreling down our street, chaos overtook emotion.  It was pouring down rain and I was trying to keep both Spencer and Graham dry with one umbrella.  I had to muscle myself, Graham, Spencer, and the umbrella on the bus conscious all the while of the long line of cars waiting for us to do so.  I was too fixated on getting Graham’s ancient seatbelt buckled and keeping Spencer from jumping on the seats to feel emotional.  For his part, Graham was so thrilled that the kid across the aisle from him had the same Spiderman backpack! that he just waved me off.  Once off the bus, we gave a quick wave and then headed around our to our car so I could drive Spencer to school.

Dropping my younger son off, same preschool but different classroom, is where I started to feel the tingle in my nose and the pressure in my throat.  Spencer is my less snuggly child but he likes a big hug before I leave him there.  He, more than Graham, seemed to sense a change.  That his days of the extremely nuturing Green Room had given way to the greater expectations of the Orange Room and he was reluctant to let me go.

The tears actually came once home and while sorting through their clothes.  I was pulling tags off their new things and sorting through the things that no longer fit.  Graham’s size 5T things made their way to rest a year in Spencer’s closet while Spencer’s 3T things went into a bag for a friend.  I pulled out a certain shirt, nothing special – just blue with white stripes – and that was when I started crying.  I swear it was yesterday that we bought that shirt for Graham.  We were in Sun Valley with my family.  There was a great sale at one of the kids’ clothing stores and we bought it for him even though it was the size that he was almost growing out of, and it was short sleeved, and the summer was ending.  I was pregnant at the time, about to find out the sex of that second baby and I thought, “Maybe it will be a boy and he can wear this shirt even if Graham never gets a chance to before cold weather sets in.”

Graham did wear that shirt a few times and I did have another boy who did wear that shirt and now that shirt is too small.  I wasn’t crying just in a “where did the time go?” kind of way but in a “while I have been yelling at my kids to put their shoes on and hustling them out the door and rushing from place to place and not taking them to the park enough and threatening them with no dessert if they don’t finish their dinner, they have outgrown this shirt” kind of way.

Every mother I know feels some degree of this failing.  Having children is difficult, draining.  Joyful of course too.  I am forever trying to be more present in the joy than in the challenges.  I could go on and on in this post talking about the unique challenges that Graham presents but instead I will tell you that I am very proud of him.  He had a wonderful first day.  He ate all of his lunch, he loved the bus, he played basketball at recess, and he went to bed early.

(All three boys in their “Daddy shirts”.)


  1. you have me teary….damn I miss you! AND Graham & Spencer!! Those shirts…and Randy’s shirt! That’s the one I had my eye on in his closet :)

    this speaks to me especially:

    “while I have been yelling at my kids to put their shoes on and hustling them out the door and rushing from place to place and not taking them to the park enough and threatening them with no dessert if they don’t finish their dinner, they have outgrown this shirt” kind of way.

    Thank you for that reminder. Your words couldn’t be more true.

    And congrats to you! You’ve raised such amazing/adorable/sweet boys. You’re love for them is contagious.

    Comment by tracy — September 9, 2010 @ 7:33 pm

  2. I enjoyed your post. You have many milestones ahead and many steps and transitions to agonize over and enjoy. Savor it. I took my son to college 5 hours away this year. He is my oldest and my daughter isn’t far behind in heading out into the world. You haven’t failed at all.

    Comment by Dianna — September 9, 2010 @ 7:37 pm

  3. I once heard someone say that from the moment they are born, being a parent is all about learning how to let them go, in small and big ways. It can’t be easy.

    The oldest niecelet had her first day of kindergarten yesterday as well. I swear, she was a toddler just yesterday.

    I hope the school year continues well, I hope we can all figure out how to be more present in the joy. A good lesson to learn. Every day. xox

    Comment by tea_austen — September 9, 2010 @ 8:12 pm

  4. Love the boys club photo!
    Good luck in Kindergarten!

    Comment by Stacey Snacks — September 9, 2010 @ 8:50 pm

  5. Thank you for this. Especially the part about yelling and growing up too fast and being present. Just last night I questioned my merits as a mother and tried to remind myself to smile instead of sigh at the request for “one more hug” an hour past bedtime. It’s wonderful to know that other moms think these things too. I know next to nothing about you but, from what I’ve read here, your kids are lucky to have such a loving, caring mom. Keep up the good work!
    Take care,

    Comment by Alix — September 9, 2010 @ 9:01 pm

  6. It’s amazing how every time you write about your children, I get teary eyed even though I have yet to become a mother. Thanks for another amazing, heartfelt post.

    P.S. Your kids are too freaking cute.

    Comment by Vivian — September 9, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

  7. Oh, Dana, you have me in tears! I feel like I’m there on your street. I miss you all, and the great big hugs, which we enjoyed for a day. Congratulations to Graham for doing so well on his first day! Here’s to many more milestones, walks at the park, and time to just enjoy the regular days with the boys.

    Comment by Joy — September 9, 2010 @ 10:09 pm

  8. Amazing, Dana; you had my teary, too. A brilliant post with gorgeous pictures of the boys!

    Comment by Regan Zee — September 9, 2010 @ 11:18 pm

  9. I can’t imagine what it must be like to entrust your child, your most prized possession, to someone else for a whole day. Or to see them grow before your eyes. But I think you captured it beautifully here. Great post.

    Comment by Joanne — September 10, 2010 @ 12:44 am

  10. Oh! “while I have been yelling at my kids to put their shoes on and hustling them out the door and rushing from place to place and not taking them to the park enough and threatening them with no dessert if they don’t finish their dinner, they have outgrown this shirt” – that sentence must be the epitome of motherhood. I have to admit this September I’ve been very glad my boy is a January boy so I have one more year before he’s kindergarden bound. Such beautiful boys you have and such a beautiful (inside and out) mum they have. Thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Charlotte — September 10, 2010 @ 4:43 am

  11. This is beautifully written , poignant and you have captured every emotion.

    My eldest is now a 5th grader and my youngest is now a 2nd grader . I was an emotional wreck when my youngest went to kindergarten (full day at that !!) ….. I literally wept for the whole week , unable to function with the simplest tasks .

    For me the moment that opened the waterworks and emotional turmoil came when she turned around as the bus stopped and said ” mummy … I am old enough to get on the bus myself …”

    The rest as they say is history !!!


    Comment by Gourmet Goddess — September 10, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

  12. This was absolutely lovely to read first thing with my coffee – thank you!

    Comment by Angharad — September 10, 2010 @ 2:20 pm

  13. I can only imagine the up and down emotion of sending your little boy off to big boy kindergarten. Here’s a hug for mom ((( )))

    I am so pleased that Graham enjoyed his first day.

    Comment by Hilary — September 11, 2010 @ 6:05 pm

  14. What a lovely post and such beautiful boys. You have made my morning.

    Comment by brooke — September 12, 2010 @ 4:11 pm

  15. Your post had me bawling like a baby. I can relate to what you wrote so much, and my Rosalie’s not even 3 yet. But my, she is so tall, and she outgrew many shirts while I was busy fussing and rushing and worrying.

    What a huge step for Graham–and you. Hope the rest of the school week went well for everyone.

    Comment by Anne — September 13, 2010 @ 5:43 am

  16. So precious! Thanks for sharing such an important day!

    Comment by Maria — September 13, 2010 @ 3:06 pm

  17. You are preaching to the choir here. Last year when I sent my four year old off to an all day program for autistic children I was an absolute mess, today I’m just grateful that she enjoys school and is thriving…what a blessing.

    Comment by Heather Jones — September 13, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

  18. Congratulations to Graham for an awesome first day!! Love that boys club pic :)

    Comment by Gaby @ What's Gaby Cooking — September 13, 2010 @ 9:02 pm

  19. “I might be a little bit scared so I will give you a hug”
    I want his on a tee shirt – or a tatoo.

    Comment by eM — September 14, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

  20. Time flies with kids! I have no idea how my nieces grow so much between visits. Hope your boys have a great school year!

    Comment by lisaiscooking — September 14, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

  21. OMG, I have been a terrible friend, I have missed so much. I had it on my calendar (which I have not looked at in 3 weeks) that special school day that Graham told me about. I am teary too, it is such a big deal, school. It does get easier, now that ME (of MEM) are in actual numbered grades now, it is just “fun”; but M is still in preschool and I am sure the tears will well next year and they did when I picked her up this week and she was the big kid. Can you imagine if they were my own kids, blabbing fool!

    Your boys are adorable!!!

    Comment by Chez Us — September 18, 2010 @ 2:10 am

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