Today is our Claire Emmanuelle’s first day of preschool.
A couple of weeks ago, the school invited new parents for an orientation night. While the director was giving us tips on how to help our children adjust to attending school for the first time, she noted, “I see that many of the parents here are already tearing up, thinking about their children’s first day of school.” I looked around in surprise, because crying was the last thing on my mind.
I didn’t need, or want to cry. I didn’t have any thoughts of sadness or nostalgia for days gone by — I was too excited for my daughter!
We had chosen this school for its excellent teachers and reputation. Its reading and math programs, in particular, are stellar and renowned throughout the state. (Claire’s started to piece together 2- and 3-letter words, so she’s super excited to learn to read.) I remember taking a tour of the facilities and being amazed at what these 3-5 year olds were learning — not only basic body parts, but specific ones as well (e.g., cochlea and dorsal fin). Worldwide geography. A music professor who comes in twice a month to introduce the kids to various musical instruments, music theory, and music history. An art historian who comes in once a month to talk about different periods in art and discuss a specific artist from that movement. (The artist of the month when I visited was Ghiberti — a name I doubt most adults would know.) Public speaking and character-building. Life skills. Technology. Basic Spanish. And much, much more.
But, most importantly, these children seemed genuinely happy to be there! They were having fun learning!
And the three times I brought Claire to visit the school? We had to tear her away each time.
I’m not worried it would be too overwhelming for her either, because the school embraces the Montessori philosophy of each child learning at his or her own pace. And although she will be one of the youngest kids in her class — she’s turning 3 at the end of the month and the class is comprised of 3-5 year olds — she’s always preferred the company of older kids and I’m confident that she will learn a great deal from her classmates.
So no, I was not a crying mess this morning. Nor was I sad to see my little girl grow up so fast. I truly was — am! — happy and excited for her because I know that this new chapter in her life will only help her grow as a person.
I was happy to see her kiss me and Aerin goodbye, holding her father’s hand as they walked out the front door together. (In true city dweller’s fashion, they will be taking a bus to school together every morning.) I remembered my own mother holding my hand as we walked to school on my first day of pre-K, and recalled how excited I was. I can’t wait to pick her up from school later today, to hear all about her first day, her teachers, and her new friends.
I know she’ll be just fine.