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The First Day of Kindergarten

The morning started like most other mornings. Last night, we picked out his clothes so there would be no stressing over what he wore. After he was dressed, we went downstairs and ate breakfast. If he was nervous, he didn’t show it. While I struggled to have the stomach to finish an English Muffin, I watched as he finished an entire bowl of cereal. This was the kid who could barely finish a mini muffin all summer. The biggest day of his 5 year-old life and he’s eating cereal like it’s no big deal.

My husband and I were, in so many ways, the typical first time kindergarten parents. We had packed his lunch the night before. We showed him all his paperwork in his backpack and told him to remember where it was when his teacher asked for it. We took the classic picture on the front step. We were all set and ready to go at 7:30. The school’s drop-off time wasn’t until 8:15. So we sat and waited.

The drive to the school was filled with anticipation. I kept sneaking glances back to him to gauge his facial expressions. Was he nervous? Excited? Confused as to why his parents have been mushy idiots all morning? Still, his expression was cool and calm. This kid was going to be just fine in Kindergarten.

If you’ve ever been near an elementary school on the first day of school, you’ll know that it’s a mad house. In an effort to stay out of the chaos, my husband dropped my son and I off about a block away and the two of us made the final journey to kindergarten walking hand-in-hand toward the school.

And that’s when it happened.

He tripped.

He fell to his knees still clinging to my hand.

I watched as he tried to keep himself together with all of this 5-year-old strength. His knees hurt. The broken skin and blood was evidence of that. He winced in pain as I rubbed the dirt off his legs.

The brave boy I had watched all morning was suddenly my little baby again. I wanted to pick him up and carry him the rest of the way but I knew I could not. He was in kindergarten now and kindergartners aren’t carried into school by their mothers. He was going to need to walk. And so he did.

As we walked the rest of the way, I was reminded that there are going to be more bumps and scrapes that I won’t be around for. There will be mean words said to him that I won’t be able to keep him from hearing. I cannot protect him from pain for the rest of his life. He will feel much more pain than just a few skinned knees. There will be times when I will want to pull him into my arms and hold him forever. But there will be times when he will need to just keep walking. I will be there to walk with him and hold his hand, but I won’t be able to take the pain away.

On the bright side, my son has the distinction of being the first patient at his school’s clinic for the 2012-2013 school year. He now knows where to go if he’s feeling sick. How many other kindergartners can say that?

Once bandaged up, we walked into the cafeteria to meet his teacher. I found him a seat next to his preschool friend and said good-bye.

Having already survived the skinned knees, I knew he was going to be okay.