Today my baby girl started Third Grade. You’d think the summer had barely passed us by the way she hopped her way to the bus stop, new backpack on her shoulders, as if it was old-hat by now. I was at my designated spot in the car across the street, an “acceptable” distance away so I can still ensure she’s safe, but not too close that she appear uncool to have mom trailing around. I watched her with her friends, laughing, reconnecting. Smiling as she got on the bus, grinning while she made silly faces at me when it passed by my car on its way off the block. I managed to keep the tears at bay until she was out of sight, though it was harder to ignore the desire follow the bus the way I did her first day of Kindergarten. I was almost as emotional today as I was that first school day four years ago, though for completely different reasons. Such different feelings, such different milestones.
Today we documented this milestone, with pictures and hugs (too many, by her account). Third Grade is a big deal, you know. But a bigger deal is my hope for her this year, as she heads back into that school that she knows so well. We’ve had some really big struggles over the past couple of years; some we’re still facing. And she’s working so hard to overcome them; we all are. So today, as I managed my tears while I went on to start my own morning, I thought of all of the anticipation this school year brings – good and bad – and all that goes along with it. Not the least of which was the simple hope that this first day go well for her; there seemed to be so much riding on first impressions today, for some reason.
Today I was relieved to talk to her, and get a good report. She was happy to see her friends, really liked her teacher, loved her new room (they have two ceiling fans, and they have carpet!), and had a great time at after-care. She was in a fantastic mood for the rest of the night as a result; which doesn’t always happen. It was the best possible outcome.
Today we read her favorite book before bed, and the main character (also grade-school age) mentioned how embarrassing it was to find notes from her mother in her lunchbox. I occasionally did this last year for her during times that she was struggling, or seemed to need an extra pick-me-up. I asked her what she would think about me doing that again this year, whether that would be okay. She looked at me sideways and said, “So NOT cool, Mom. But you CAN say ‘Peace out, YO!’, that would be cool.” The way she said it was so smooth and full of bravado, all I could do was laugh. Then Daddy laughed, then she laughed too. It was a great happy moment.
Today I put her to bed without incident, and listened to her bubble and chatter and tell me about her favorite parts of her day. Then after she fell asleep I snuck back up to watch her slumber a while, like I do every so often, just to soak in the silent serenity that is the beauty of my daughter. All eight years full.
Today my baby girl had a GREAT first day of Third Grade. And tonight I breathe a little easier and am grateful.