I lucked out, scheduling-wise, as this Mommy Blog is due today and I have a ready-made topic. It’s the first day of school for my daughters – and that means it’s the first day of kindergarten for my younger daughter, Annabelle.
Full disclosure: I’m a sappy person who cries easily. Sad things, sentimental things, you name it, I well up. I was afraid I’d have trouble writing because I’d go home and sob after drop-off. I did well up after the girls started walking into school, but I’m OK right now, almost two hours later.
But the house is awfully quiet, even with my husband working downstairs.
In some ways, this was easier than the first day of kindergarten for my older daughter, Sophie, because I know what to expect and I know the school routine. I know Sophie, even though she looks tiny and terrified in pictures from her first day of kindergarten, survived not just that first day, but every day since (including the challenges posed by COVID).
However, my mind is full of questions as I sit in this silent house. Is Annabelle ready? She didn’t go to preschool – neither one did – not only because I’m a SAHM, but because I didn’t want her first experience in school to be in a COVID year, with all the restrictions that came with it. Sometimes, though, I’d look at the pictures from the pre-K program and all the fun the kids had and wonder if Annabelle was missing out. Only about half of her kindergarten class comes from the pre-K, so I think it’s a tossup as to whether she’ll lag behind the ready-made friend groups, socially speaking.
Annabelle was nervous to start kindergarten. She’d been used to being my buddy all day, even with Daddy working downstairs for the past 15 months, and kept telling me how much she’d miss me and didn’t want to leave me. I kept looking at my phone all the way home from drop-off, fearing school would be calling me to come back because she was having a meltdown, but as of 10 a.m., I haven’t gotten one.
And then there’s COVID. I am nervous about the direction we’re headed in on that front. Last year, Sophie got to be in school 180 days, full-time, and we all stayed healthy. There was a lot of sanitizing and mask-wearing and social distancing. This year, masks aren’t required, but strongly encouraged – and both girls are wearing them. Sophie wants to; Annabelle doesn’t have a strong opinion, but I wonder how she’ll hold up in a mask for seven hours, especially considering how hot it’s going to be for at least the first week. It looks like many families will be sending kids to school in masks, so I’m less worried about either of them being made fun of, but in Annabelle’s case, will it make it harder to socialize when she can’t see facial expressions?
Her classroom is also different from Sophie’s kindergarten classroom – there are fewer toys and soft items, making the vibe a little less cozy. It’s still an adorable, warm and very kindergarten-y room! But Annabelle has picked up on the differences and I’m not sure she realizes that kindergarten is more about learning through fun and activity. She also absorbs everything Sophie does and tries to imitate her, so she probably can’t differentiate between the academic rigors of third grade and what she’ll have to do in kindergarten.
I’m on deadline, so I won’t be able to report how Annabelle’s first day went. But so far, I’m OK, really. At least in terms of tears.