It was Jacob's first day of Kindergarten!
And it was my last first day of sending a child to Kindergarten. After 12 1/2 years of having anywhere from 1 - 3 of our 4 children at home with me 24/7, I am stepping into a new phase of life. It's a bittersweet day because I know that things will never be "the same" again. And yet, that's exactly what we've been training them up to do. To begin to become independent, instead of totally dependent on us. To become their own individuals. To begin to make their own choices. To take the things we've trained into them, and choose to either discard or use them as they encounter real life, and make it theirs, instead of ours.
Obviously, this is not an immediate severing of all parental influence. Far from it. We know that we continue to be the biggest influences on our children's lives for years and years to come. But it is a step in this direction, and from this point on the steps will continue in that direction. And, as we well know, the days may sometimes go by slowly, but the years go quickly indeed.
It is a huge leap of faith. But faith we have, and faith we will cling to. Faith that God goes with him (as He does all our children) every step of the way, even when we do not. Faith that God is sovereign, and that every single thing that will happen in his life, has been sifted through the Father's hands. Knowing that that doesn't mean that nothing bad will happen, but that he will not walk alone, and he will be given the strength to get through it. Faith that God will take all that we've poured into him, mistakes and all, and His strength will be made perfect in our weakness. Faith that God loves him, even more than we do, even though that seems impossible from a human standpoint, because who could possibly love a boy more than his mom (ok, and his dad)? Truly, only his Creator.
And that faith is what makes it possible to let him go.
And, in light of the 12th anniversary of 9/11 tomorrow, and in light of the fact that there are many other people out there who have lost children that should've started Kindergarten this year, I am simply thankful for him, and for the fact that I have a child to send.
So, yes, my life took a pretty major shift today. But it's a good one for him, and since it's all about perspective and outlook on life, it will be a good one for me too.
Now, I didn't allow myself to even really think too much in this direction ahead of time. After all, I knew that if I wanted to, I could think myself into one hot mess by the time the first day of kindergarten rolled around. So, I simply chose not to. Instead I focused on him, and how happy I was for him that he was so excited about going to school.
As a January baby, and the fourth child, Jacob was more than ready for school this year (us Canadians do school age cutoffs differently than in the States, so January babies are the oldest in the class up here). And he's been counting down to this day for awhile now. In fact, he was a little confused when he turned 5 and couldn't immediately start going to school! I had to tell him that he had to wait until after summer vacation, and that when the girls went back to school in fall, so would he.
Except that with the whole graduated entry thing, that didn't end up being totally accurate either. The girls went back on Thursday, the 5th. And he didn't get to start until today. He was in the very last group of kids to start.
Two weeks ago he asked me how many more days it was - and I said 2 weeks.
Two days later he asked me again - and I said 12 days. He said "12 days?!" because of course, 12 is higher than 2. So, I tried explaining that 2 weeks was 14 days so things were still going in the right order.
And as the number of sleeps got lower and lower, he got more excited. Until finally, it was the night before kindergarten!
In the morning, he woke up just before I was going to go in to wake him, and ran into my room all excited for the first day of school.
He helped me pack his lunch (banana, 4 slices of marble cheese, sweet potato chips, and homemade chocolate chip cookies, with a cheese string for snack time), ate his breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes in the shape of Mickey Mouse, picked out his clothes, and finished getting ready to go.
I miraculously managed to be ready on time myself, and after snapping some pictures (yes, we're in the fake smile stage), off we went!
The girls were excited about Jacob's first day too!
When we got to school, we found his spot for his outdoor shoes, then headed into the classroom.
We found his hook for his backpack and sweater, got on his indoor shoes, and I barely managed to get in one last hug and a picture of the two of us, before he was off to sit on the carpet and wait for his teacher.
Unfortunately, things weren't going quite so well for a few other kids this morning. One little girl was screaming and crying as her mom tried to leave. I felt so bad, for both of them, and was very glad I wasn't dealing with that, as that would've made this day so much harder.
And then one little boy came in, I'm assuming from off the bus, and when he said his name, they couldn't find it. It turns out that he was supposed to have gone to the Immersion school next door instead. He looked so lost and confused, I felt so bad for him. What a bad start to school life. I'm not sure why one of his parents couldn't bring him to school on his first day, but it would take something absolutely monumental for me not to do so. I'm really trying to give his parents the benefit of the doubt on this one, but my heart broke for the little guy.
So, I was pretty thankful for how our morning had gone, especially in comparison! In fact, I was doing great.....
until I started walking out the door.
And then it just hit me. Hard.
And the tears started welling up in my eyes.
And right then, his teacher asked me "How are you doing?" And I almost lost it. I knew I couldn't start talking or I wouldn't be able to stop the tears. So I mumbled something incoherently in reply, grabbed the baggie she gave me, and left as quickly as I could. I didn't full out cry, but the tears definitely welled up, and two or three may have escaped on the walk back to my house by myself.
This is what she gave me....
We have such awesome teachers at our school!
Earlier in summer, she sent Jacob this postcard....
Thankfully I had to leave immediately for Coffee Connections at church, so I didn't have time for a pity party!
And, just over 6 hours later, he was back. Running up the driveway, having had a fantastic first day of school!
I'm so proud of the young man he is slowly, but surely, becoming.