Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Today was Emma's first day of school. She has been anxiously waiting for it for weeks, asking me every other day how much longer it would be. This morning, she brushed her teeth and got dressed more quickly than she ever has before. She was ready. I wasn't sure whether I was.

Emma is my oldest child. She's bright, funny, and energetic; a firecracker that keeps us all on our toes. She has been the center of my universe since the doctor performed an emergency c-section and pulled her from me five years and four months ago. We have been together every single day, and suddenly last week, as I handed her a lunch box and had her pretend she was eating in the cafeteria, it hit me. The three of us wouldn't be having lunch together every day anymore. Soon it would be just me and Kate, my two year old. When I mentioned this to Emma, she frowned just a little, then smiled hugely and said, "But we'll still have Saturday and Sunday!" I smiled back and agreed, pointing out that lunchtime will be a great opportunity for her to make new friends.

This morning, the school was swarming with kids and parents finding their way to classrooms and new teachers. The principal, who now knows Emma by sight, greeted us and walked Emma to her room. I was shocked by how much bigger the other kids were (Emma is skipping Kindergarten and starting right off in First Grade, plus she's kind of small for her age anyway), but Emma didn't seem to notice. She read name-cards and said hi to those around her, shook the hand of the teacher, and forgot I was even there. She had no trouble following the directions the teacher had written on the chalkboard and was soon seated at her place, her pristine school supplies piled neatly in front of her. While I clutched Kate on my hip among the swirl of children, adults, and teachers, trying to take it all in and grasp that this was THE moment, Emma settled in and began drawing on her name-card, decorating it in her own particular style.

I know I'm lucky to have a child who is secure and self-confident, but I'll admit it was a little tough to leave, saying good-bye with a wave that was barely acknowledged. Emma was much too busy examining the new world around her to dwell on the one she was leaving behind, so I hugged Kate close and followed Emma's example.

For the first time in her life, Kate had me all to herself.

For the first time in her life, Emma spent more than just a couple of hours in a school setting.

For the first time in my life, I let my child go, just a little bit.

Tomorrow, Emma rides the bus to school and back. It'll be another first. It won't be the last.


Katie said...

Aw, what a sweet thing to write for your daughter! She'll love reading it when she's older.

Ginger said...

I remember sending Mena off to school the first day. She seemed perfectly ready to flutter away -- it was I whose heart pitter-pattered. I remember thinking that all was going along in an appropriate manner. It felt the same way when Mena walked across the stage to receive her high school diploma -- I was the one who was out of step, not she.

Patricia said...

Ohhhh Sharon, how wonderful, and heartbreaking at the same time, you're right, it won't be the first first, it's great you wrote about it, hope all went well today..xoxoox

Sharon Hurlbut said...

Katie: Funny, but it hadn't even occurred to me to print that off and keep it for Emma. Thanks for the idea! I kept a daily journal during both girls' first years, but have been sporadic otherwise.

Ginger: Yes, she is definitely more ready for these moments than I am, which is good because it helps me to step back and let her do her thing.

Patricia: Things went great today. She loved riding the bus, and a boy in her class gets on at the same stop, so he sat with her on the way to school and on the way home. They even had lunch together! Interesting that so far the two friends she has made are both boys. That's my gal.

Patry Francis said...

It is such a significant moment. I have four children and each of their first departures for school is still vividly inscribed on memory.