Friday, June 11, 2010

Annie's Last Day of Kindergarten (Cue the Tears)

Nobody at this house can believe it, but today was Annie's last day of kindergarten. She is sad. She loves her teacher and can't imagine first grade being any good without her. I am sad. I love the half-day schedule and wish there was a way to have her go to school just in the mornings for, oh, four or five years. I was OK with saying, "I have a kindergardener." I do not want to say, "I have a first-grader." She is already getting so much taller; her cheeks have lost their chubbiness.

When I picked her up from school today, it was pouring rain, and we ran to the car sharing the single princess umbrella I grabbed on my way out the door. Our plan was to go out to lunch, to have some special Mommy/Annie time, but her heart wasn't in it. Instead we came home and she moped around and wrote her teacher a sad, sad letter about how much she will miss her. I watched, remembering that feeling, a little, and wondering what to do to make it better.

During quiet time, I snuck out to run some errands. I came back in the door with a pile of little chapter books to sustain her this summer and some new art supplies so she can keep a journal and make little chapbooks when she wants to write about things. Stickers, a stapler, some new colors. She cheered up.

Even better, the sun was shining again, and it was hot and steamy, so we all packed up and went to the pool for the rest of the afternoon, where her head was hardly ever visible because it was either underwater diving for rings or running by in a flash to go down the waterslide again. A little more cheer.

We came home, threw together a turkey sausage-spinach-garlic-pasta thing for dinner. While we were eating, Annie said, "Raise your hand if you want to talk about going to Jersey Junction!" and waved her hand wildly in the air, and what could we say but yes? So in spite of the fact that it was already 7:00 and we were still in our bathing suits, we walked to get ice cream (rainbow and lemon sherbet for the girls, coffee and butter pecan for the grown-ups) and we didn't hurry either. We ran into friends and let the kids trade licks and walk balance beams around the ice cream store for a long time before finally walking back home and tucking very sleepy little sleepyheads into bed way past bedtime. A kindergarten graduate gets to stay up late and party with ice cream at least once, right?

And now the summer stretches before us, so full of unscheduled promise and possibility, and I want to do so many things with them this year. I want to make plans and be intentional; I want to leave days and weeks wide open and be spontaneous; I want to make time for them to dig in the dirt and create art and tell their stories and dance and swim and swing and run up and down the sidewalks and catch fireflies and have lemonade stands. It is June, and it all feels possible.

Tomorrow, we are going to make a list of all the summer things we want to do and see and experience. But tonight the clouds roll in again and I want to take a minute and sit here, a little wistful, and be amazed that my daughter, who in my mind's eye is still just a scrawny newborn, or maybe just on the verge of turning two or three, is done with a whole year of real school. She is nearly six. She is a first-grader.

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