A Mom’s Reflections on the First Day of Kindergarten

I knew the day would come when I would send my daughter, who was once my little 5-pound peanut, off to kindergarten. That day has arrived.

Today, with hundreds of other parents, I dropped off my daughter, Melayna, for her first day of kindergarten in West Des Moines schools. She was all smiles with her new haircut and dress, but I could tell she was nervous because she was wide-eyed and fidgety. She posed outside the school with her best friend, Lauren, for pictures. Then we found her teacher, Ms. Hirsch, and she sat and patiently waited with her classmates until everyone had arrived and they could go to their classroom.

I’m not sure how I feel. I cried last week when we received the introductory letter from her teacher and had one brief moment this morning as she waved good-bye and walked away with her class when I felt my eyes fill with tears. But in all honesty, I’m more happy for her because of the experiences she will have than sad that she won’t be home with me and her little brother. I think the only thing that made today easier on the two of us is that she has attended morning preschool for the past two years, so I was used to her being gone in the mornings.

But I will miss her smiling face and playful personality during the day. I dread the likeliness of her being tired and grumpy when she doesn’t get home from school until 4:40 in the afternoon. I’m disappointed that she didn’t get to start the year in her actual home school, which is just a short walking distance from our house. I’m nervous that I have to trust someone else to drive her to and from school every day now that she’s riding the school bus. I hope no one does or says anything that will make her cry.

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Sending your child to school is a big step for parents. It’s about placing the person you love most in the world in the trust of others, who in this case, are complete strangers. As a parent, you work hard to ensure you’re raising a child who will be a good, well-behaved student and is prepared for school, but I worry about the other kids.

I’ll save those worries for another day. Melayna was her normal beaming self when I picked her up from school today. She chatted nonstop about her day: how she received a tiger paw for good behavior, how Ms. Hirsch can do magic, and of course, how delicious the cheese pizza and strawberry milk were that she had for lunch.

But my favorite thing she said was: “I can’t wait to go back tomorrow.”

About the Author: Melissa Walker is a former newspaper reporter, who now works as a freelance writer, editor and media consultant. She lives in West Des Moines with her family.