Thursday, September 2, 2010

Life after Kindergarten

Every morning around 6:20am Luke is finishing his shower and my alarm goes off.  One of us runs the bath water and I tip-toe in to the girls room and roll Abi out of bed, her limbs hanging loosely around my torso while I carry her down the hall.  Just under two weeks ago the girls woke up past 7am, so one might expect that Lily would sleep in.  This is not the case - she is so intrigued by the new routine that every morning she sits up in bed expectantly waiting for her escape. 

The most fascinating thing about this new schedule for Abi is the fact that it is 'night' when she wakes up now.  Abi seems in a daze while she sits in the warm bath water and asks questions about the day ahead.  "Is this a staying home day?  Can I have jelly beans in my lunch today?  Can I wear my hair in a ponytail today?"  I've instituted the new bath routine in an effort to keep Abi's curly hair in compliance.  So far it has worked out well - I think she enjoys the moment to reflect on her day, and waking up to the warm water is nice.  I monitor the clock, and by the time she is dressed for school Luke has her breakfast waiting at the little table by the bay window, where the girls like to daydream and depending on the morning giggle with each other or squabble over condiments and utensils.

Abi picks out her outfit each night and hangs it on a hook beside her backpack just outside her room.  I pack a mid-day snack and a lunch each night which goes into the backpack after a few finishing touches in the morning.  Around 7:15am we make our way to the school bus stop just across the street.  This is my new favorite part of the morning - the parents all gather together at the bus stop and it feels so neighborly.  Sometimes after we all wave at the bus we chat for a moment before continuing on to work.  It seems like everyone wants to linger a little while.  Most of the families come together, spouses and siblings in tow to send off the children.  One father of a ten year old stands across the street, his daughter standing proudly and independently at the stop as her dad quietly watches from across the road.

I take Lily to daycare most mornings and she continues to ask each day as we leave the driveway, "Where's Abi? (pause) Skoo Bus?"  I think the girls both miss one another a little bit.  Today Abi said over breakfast, "I can't wait until Lily and I both ride the school bus together because then we can pray together before school."  That is something we used to do together just outside the door of their daycare.  Luke reminded her that we could do the same thing at home, but I think it was Abi's way of saying that she liked having her sister around. 

I rush to meet the school bus to pick Abi up, and she bounds off the bus with a big smile and a hug.  Each day she and a fellow kindergartener in the neighborhood ride together, and each day they excitedly rush to us.  That's my favorite time of the day because the new routine has made discussing the day so novel.  We sit down with a snack, do homework or watch PBS kids, and talk a for a while.  Little by little I am piecing together the way the world of kindergarten looks from her eyes.  Hot lunch is slightly cooler than packed lunch, the playground is hot but a good place to make friends, her teacher is wonderful, girls play with girls and boys play with boys (at least it is very important to pretend that is the case).  The other day she was so pleased that even the fourth graders and teachers liked her dress.  One day she was disappointed because the teacher didn't give her milk money.  I like listening to all of her experiences and start watching the clock at noon in anticipation of getting to hear about the day.

Abi is definately tired after her long day, but overall I think she relishes the experience of being so independent.  She is becoming a part of a world that her dad and I have little to do with - she is completely responsible for her own experience each day during the time span from bus stop to bus stop.  And she is only five years old!  I find that both terrifying and reassuring.  It is hard to imagine that months once passed like years as I waited for her to do something - say a word, crawl, walk, drink from a cup.  Looking back, it hasn't taken long at all for her to become so independent.


Kayla said...

Wow, Mel, this sounds wonderful. I hope Codi's kindergarten experience as beautiful.

Your paragraph about her independence and living a life outside of you and Luke brought tears to my eyes. How quickly our babies grow.

Kali said...

This is so wonderfully well written. Sidney is about to turn one and I can hardly believe how much has happened in this last year. It's so true that all you want is for them to do something--anything--and then all of a sudden they grow up and you wish they would linger a while longer in childhood. This is a great perspective and lesson to all us parents who are "waiting for the next thing" to happen.