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First Day of School Down Under

I realize that the majority of the readers reading this blog live in the Northern Hemisphere, and therefore have their school year starting at the end of August or early September, so the timing of this post may seem a bit off for you. I, on the other hand, live in the Southern Hemisphere, and am in the middle of the first week of school here in Australia as it’s the end of summer Down Under.

Every September my Facebook and Instagram feeds get filled with photos of all my friends’ kids, back home in North America, on the first day of school. There are many long-winded posts about how they cried waving good-bye to their little ones, as they catch the bus for the first time. I never fully understood this. I couldn’t imagine being sad about my daughters going off to school. My two have been so excited to go to school, and I am just as excited to send them….

Well yesterday was my eldest daughter’s first day of Kindergarten, and all was going according to plan. We took the traditional first day of school photos at home; she was so proud of her new uniform, and struck a pose with ease. I then dropped off her younger sister at preschool, which was kind of a disaster, but was to be expected, as she has never had a day at preschool without her big sister. They are a mere 14 months apart, so they have been in the same room at preschool allowing child #2 to think that she too is a big girl going off to Kindergarten, despite the many conversations leading up to yesterday that she has to wait until next year.

So dropping off child number 2 wasn’t easy, but I anticipated that it wouldn’t be walk in the park, and I was well aware she wouldn’t be a happy camper when her big sister and I walked off together knowing we were headed for big girl school with a new uniform and new teacher, and all the excitement that come with that.

What I didn’t anticipate is what happened next. I arrived at my daughter’s new school and walked her to her Kindergarten classroom, where we saw numerous of our friends from ballet class and from our mothers group and so on. I have to say I am very pleased and grateful with the fantastic group of kids in our class, and the teacher, as well as teacher assistants are all lovely.

As all the kids assembled and sat nicely on the floor in front of their new teacher, a tidal wave of emotion came over me. I couldn’t believe it. My eyes were welling up. I quickly started to calculate the days in my monthly cycle to see if I was just PMS’ing… How could this be happening? Why was I getting so emotional? All of a sudden, with out any control of my own self, I was one of those moms. I was getting all emo on the first day of school. I knew it was time to say goodbye and my little girl was on her own at big girl school.

Previous to this day in my mind I always thought to myself ‘What’s the big deal, it’s no different then dropping her off at preschool?’, which she’s been in one to two days a week since she was nearly 2 years old and I had no issue with dropping her off there when she started. But when this moment came yesterday, it was different. It was incomparable. This was a milestone. My little girl was a big girl, going to big girl school and was soon going to learn big girl things. I held back tears, took the little envelope with attached paper bag that the teacher’s assistant handed out as all us parents shuffled out of the building, and kept a smile on my face and waved good bye and blew her a kiss.

I walked back to the parking lot with the other mums and dads and sat in my car and tears poured down my face. I couldn’t stop them and I had NO IDEA WHY THEY KEPT FLOWING. When I pulled in at home, I opened the little paper bag and saw a tea bag and a mini chocolate bar inside, and a little note, and it read the following:

***Warning: Grab your tissues….

The First Day

I gave you a little wink and smile

As you entered my room today

For I know how hard it is to leave

And know your child must stay.

You’ve been with her for four years now

And have been a loving guide

But now alas, the time has come

To leave her at my side.

Just know that as you drive away

And tears down your cheeks may flow

I’d love her as my own

And will help her learn and grow.

For as a parent, I know

How quickly the years do pass

And that one day soon it will be my turn

To take my child to class.

So please put your mind at ease

And cry those tears no more,

For I will love her and take her in

When you leave her at my door

It was then when I realized why there was a tea bag and mini chocolate bar in the bag. I needed a moment. A big long Mom moment….

Since the first day was only a half-day, time flew by. I swear, I emptied the dishwasher, put a load of laundry in the washing machine, and of course followed suit and uploaded the photos from earlier in the day on Facebook, and before I knew it, it was time to pick her up and hear about her first day.

She was so excited to tell me all about her new teacher and what they did all morning. I was so proud of my girl, as were all the other parents picking up their kids who were all smiling ear to ear, beaming with pride and excitement. We spent the next few hours one-on-one, before picking up her little sister, which was special and rare for us.

At the end of the night when I put them both to bed at 7pm I was shattered. Just physically and mentally drained, and I could barely keep my eyes open. I guess all the anticipation and emotion of dropping them both off earlier, and reaching this milestone really took it out of me. I truly didn’t expect that the first day of school would have this affect one me as a parent, but I’m glad I did. And I’m sure it will prepare me for next year when my baby stats Kindy; and at least next year I’ll know not to read the poem while I’m still in the car…

#firstdayofschool #kindergarden

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