“Mama-why you making me do dis?” My little bug said as we made our way down the bustling hallways the first day. My heart broke. She’d been falsely brave up to this point but I’d feared it was short lived. She’d already asked about strangers. There had already been a question about what If no one talked to her. There had been a lament about no one sitting with her. She’d asked each without being too dramatic or merose but I’d sensed a meltdown coming. The question confirmed one was near.
Her little hand was clammy in mine. She held it tightly. Too tightly. “Oh bug-you are going to have such a good time! You’ll see,” a crowd was heading toward us from the direction of the buses. Her hand tightened. It was shaking in mine. I held tight and kept walking. We made the turn toward the kindergarten hallway.
“Why you making me dude dis?” She asked again. I avoided the question by carefully explaining the turns we were making to find her classroom. By end of the week they staff wanted her to make the trek alone. The thought made me cringe inside. Could she do it? Could I? Right now I doubted both of our abilities.
We made it to her classroom. Her teacher spied her and —oh how I adore her for this—threw her arms wide. Her silky, wide armed sleeves flaired out to make an impressive backdrop to her words,”THERE YOU ARE!” She probably said this to everyone but it certainly felt like it was said only for my little bug. It felt like she had been waiting on us. She was colorful and cheerful and oozed joy. I felt welcomed and wanted and hoped my girl did too.
Teach had barely gotten the words out before her face changed. She dropped her arms-her butterfly sleeves disappearing as she swooped towards us. In an impressive move she crossed the room in a few short strides and expertly manuevered herself between my little one and I. I immediately knew why.
My little ones face…oh that face…I may never forget that face…Her little round face was scrunched up and red. Her bottom lip was quivering as it poked out and ohhh of those big, round, expressive eyes leaked big alligator tears. She looked terrified and heartbroken all at the same time. To add to the pitifulness she was reaching out for me and crying, “don’t leave me….”
Her teacher is a pro. She had bawling baby wrangled up in a hug/re-directing task while turning her away from me in one slick move. There was nothing for me to do but say,”I love you baby,” as I ducked out of the door. Her wails followed me.
I couldn’t leave. I hovered in the doorway next door and frantically tried to decide what to do. There was no way I could leave until I knew she was okay. But there was no way I could check in her without her seeing.
Like the deranged kindergarten mom I was I reached out and grabbed the closest person to me. It was a dad who’s drop off was obviously going better then mine because he was smiling and relaxed in the doorway of the room across the hall. Without any pre-amble I said,”can you help me? Girl in yellow sweater…is she sobbing?”
One look at my face deterred him from asking any questions. He peered into the room. “Uh…no sobbing but…” He seemed to not want to tell me the truth. “But I can’t really see her face. Hang on.” He stepped into the classroom. The para-pro I traumatized yesterday greeted him like he was a student. He waved her off. “…talking to teacher now but I still can’t see her face. Hang on,” I breathed a sigh of relief. At least the sobs has subsided.
Big girl tapped her plastic flat clad toes and her phone at the same time. She was anxious to start her first day. In 7th grad short-sightedness she was oblivious to my thumping heart and panic. Of course she hadn’t seen the pitiful little face. I’d backed up so quickly in my effort to escape those reaching arms that my wide derrière had catapulted her into the hallway before she’d witnessed the big meltdown. “Mom…”she started.
My voice was high and sharp as I said, “I can’t leave until I know she’s okay,” I was wringing my hands like a little old lady.
So to my left my pre-teen was sighing and texting. To my right my look out was trying to catch a glimpse of my sad girl. I stood in the center of it all and fretted.
I didn’t want to leave her. I couldn’t stand her feeling abandoned. Her thinking no one would sit with her or talk with her broke my heart. Knowing she felt like I was stranding her amongst strangers just seemed more then I could take. I’d had 3 kindergarten drop offs but had left feeling like I had betrayed the trust of my little one by leaving them.
“Okay. She’s not sobbing. I can see her now. The teacher is talking to her and I think she said something back. I think,” reported my spy. I profusely thanked him and relived him of his duties.
I knew I had to leave. Putting that first foot toward the exit was one of the hardest steps I’ve ever had to make.
In the end I left. I made it to work somehow despite my tear filled eyes. I even managed to get an item marked off my to-do list before I have in to the worry and emailed the teacher.
The morning report was ‘we are great! She’s great! And don’t apologize for checking in.’ With that I got thru the morning.
At 2:39 I talked to my girl. The drama of being a divorced mom is that I didn’t get to pick her up from her very first day Of big girl school. I didn’t get to hug her or squeeze her to assure her that she wasn’t abandoned. But I got to talk to her. Happily she reported she had “fun” and was “brave” and that a little boy had talked to her. And this was all said with a smile in her voice.
So the first is over. She made it and so did I.