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Tonight we had our Back to School Night. I love our school and I trust the leadership in place. But…I’m always so eager for Back to School Night. I want to see the classroom, see the class set-up and arrangement, inspect bulletin boards, ask questions, and see any evidence of my child thriving and learning.

First Grade has been tough…for me! I’m so used to being involved (perhaps too much!) and chatting with the teachers on the morning. I like to walk my daughter in and fortunately for me, my work schedule allows for that.

Kate walked right into First Grade with barely any jitters. She expressed a bit of nervousness on the way to school that first day, but then left me at the school entrance as she ran off with a friend…down the big kid hallway..,without looking back…until she realized I had her backpack. Ah! So big, too soon, too fast!

First Grade is a different world. Kindergarten was in its own building with free-play starting the day. Often I would connect with my daughter’s teacher, say hi to the teachers in the second classroom, and stop by the third classroom to see what parent aide work they had for me. Kindergarten was this magical place, this baby step from pre-school and mostly play oriented days to more structure and curriculum. Her school found that perfect balance for kindergarten and I was welcomed into that world.

First Grade is in the main building and it’s just a different vibe. It’s still warm and caring, but it’s big kid. I’m one of the few parents that still walk their child in. When we arrive at the classroom, the teacher is busy. She is doing what I would expect and want her to do…attending to the children…because now the children are working. Yes, it is fun activities, but there is an added level of work. Yes, it is part of the developmental path, but I was not ready! Of course, you want your little bird to grow, thrive, and at some point leave the nest. First Grade was one of the biggest steps for us!

Her first day of preschool was hard for us all. Ok, let’s be honest, her first few weeks of preschool were hard for us. Moving from one school to another was hard for us. And now, moving to first grade was…just hard for me.

Her teacher is fabulous! Seriously, if there could be an image beside First Grade teacher in a reference book, it would be her! She is young, positive, calm, enthusiastic about children and the process of learning, sincerely interested in each child, and her eyes light up when she sees my child. Not just my child, but all of the children in her class. Tonight at back to school night we had an opportunity to see her delight when she spoke about her students, her knowledge as she spoke about the curriculum, and her ability to team work with other first grade teachers and school specialists.

So even though it has been harder for me to enter first grade than my first grader, I know its part of the parenting process. The gradual goodbyes, the ending of routines so gradual you almost don’t notice. Many are moments we celebrate: using the potty, moving into a big girl bed, the loss of a first tooth, and so on. Now I must step back and let my girl grow more independent, more confident, more courageous… without me.

I can. I will.

She can. She will.

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