This date would console me on the days that the crying and screaming never stopped.
I reassured myself that this day would come every time I rolled the toilet paper back on the roll.
I lifted my eyes to this date when I thought I didn't have the strength to clean up another puddle of throw up.
The power of positive thinking will take you far, my friends.
For 6 years, I've been excited to drop my little ones off at Kindergarten. I've known from the beginning that they would love it, absolutely love it. I've also known from the beginning that with all the children in school, my life would resume the quiet and order I deeply need . . . at least from 8:00am - 3:30pm on weekdays. That's enough for me . . . I'll take what I can get.
The first day of school was a sort of realization for me. I learned a secret that only moms who've finally sent their youngest to school can know: The excitement I feel dropping them off every morning does not even begin to compare to the fun I have picking them up every day.
The first few minutes I see the kids after school is when I get the low-down. It's the highlight of my day.
The first day of school, they wore their butterfly outfits. Which would have been fine accept that Mary TuTu picked out blue and Brooke picked out pink. Which is exactly opposite of what their "signature colors" were the first 4 years of their life. Everyone, including me, is so used to seeing Mary TuTu in pink that it was confusing all day long. Fun for the girls, not fun for anyone else.
The second day of school, Brooke came home telling me that she'd made 2 new friends. The girl was named Lelah and the boy was named Pretend Bubba. I was a bit skeptic that those were their real names, so I pressed her further and found out that the girl's name was Laura, but she can't remember that so she either calls her Lelah or Kwan. The boy's name is very similar to Bubba's, so she just calls him Pretend Bubba. ...um...ok.
The third day of school, I found out that my girls think they are some sort of rock stars. Every time they see a teacher or parent they know, they get out of line to hug and greet the adult. As you can imagine, it started to get disruptive, so now their classes have a "quiet wave" that they use to greet people in the hall.
The fourth day of school, Mary TuTu came home telling me that the boy that sits next to her, T, wants her to be his girlfriend. She told him that her dad wouldn't let her have boyfriends, but that she could be his friend. After school they were waiting to be picked up and another boy said to her, "You're hot." T heard this exchange and replied, "What you sayin' to my lady?" Accept he pronounced "lady" like she's the heroine in that Kenny Rogers song . . . "I'm your knight in shining armor...and...I love you..."
The fifth day of school, Brooke came home and announced that T, Mary TuTu's friend, had kissed her hand at recess. I said, "T kissed your hand?" She said, "Yes." I asked, "Did he think you were Mary TuTu?" "Probably," she answered.
The sixth day of school, the girls came home and announced that they wanted to do a show for us. They practiced all afternoon, and when we all finally sat down to listen, they sang "Tootie Ta". We laughed like it was the first time we'd ever seen it. And then they sang a few other silly songs they'd been learning, and I realized that we were getting a preview of the PTA program they are giving next week.
As far as I can tell, Bubba likes 4th grade. He comes home with way fewer stories. And none of his stories involve kissing girls on the hand or friends named Kwan. He tells stories about what game they played at recess and which orifice was stuffed with what part of the cafeteria's offering for lunch.
He's officially old enough to need a Trapper Keeper. I remember looking longingly at the older kids in elementary school, wishing away the years until I was old enough for a Trapper Keeper.
And a recorder. We had to buy him a recorder for music class. He says that he'll have to bring it home to practice, but so far we've been spared from all that fun.
After a few days in to this after school routine, I realized that I was beginning to reap what I'd been sowing during all of those toddler years. The hours I'd spent mixing bottles, playing cars, dressing babies, stepping on Legos, vacuuming Polly Pocket shoes, reading stories, and sharing dino nuggets had all been building up to this. This after school flurry of exciting stories and sharing secrets and being a part of my kids' circle of trust.
Every sacrifice we made was so worth it. I wouldn't trade it for dinners out, nicer cars, more cable channels, exotic vacations, fancier clothes, or powerful careers. My kids' preschool years are gone, and I am so glad I got to spend those years with them.
The relationship I have with my kids is changing right before my eyes. They don't need me to bathe and dress them anymore. They can feed themselves and clean up after themselves. I love that they are more and more independent every day, yet they spill their guts the second they are home. It's so much fun and worth every minute I spent playing never ending games of Candyland.