Our first baby left for Kindergarten this morning. With a giant grin on her face and a twinkle in her beautiful hazel eyes, she donned her backpack and jumped right out of our cozy little nest. Her wings were sure and we trust that they carried her with ease to new adventures, new friends, new ideas. At the last moment, though, I tried tethering her just a bit, carefully attaching a string from my heart to her, to be extra-sure she wouldn’t fall. This panic hit me rather unexpectedly – I had been excited right along with her until that very moment. How can this be, I thought to myself, tying an extra knot in the heart-string. How can this be our girl – so big, so fast? It was the same refrain I imagine all parents sing when that very real incarnation of Time Passed smacks us square in the face and we have to let go of our baby’s hand, if only for a bit.
Of course we’ve been anticipating this day for quite some time. Before Isadora was two years old, we realized the uncommon decision we’d have to make for her regarding school. With a mid-September birthday, she would miss the official cut-off for starting school by a mere pocketful of days. What would this mean for her? Would the extra time at home work to her advantage? Would she be better served as the oldest or youngest in her class? For years we sorted through the pros and cons. We considered her personality, her aptitude, her hunger for knowledge and the deftness with which she absorbed new information. We considered ourselves and our own preferences, asking, if if were us, which scenario we would prefer. Pretty early on, it became clear to us that she might be ready to jump in on the earlier end. We continued to assess, observe, consider. And then the time came to begin the rigorous process of early admission testing. To be allowed to start school before the state-mandated age of 5, she would have to test exceedingly high in a battery of tests and peer interaction. She passed the tests easily; our conviction was validated.
So here we are on this day sending our almost-five-year-old off into the Big World. Or at least into the Kindergarten corner of that Big World. We all walked her to the end of the driveway to wait for the bus to come. (only marginally less exciting than going to school was getting to ride the bus) She was clearly ready to go, of this Daddio and I have absolutely no doubt. Her brother, though, I was a bit worried about. He prides himself in being her biggest fan, her shadow, her willing puppet. We had to wake up The Boy this morning well before his normal time, so that he could physically see his girl get on the bus and leave. Without him. Last night, in a particularly sweet heart-to-heart, Isadora expressed some of this same concern for her brother. ‘I just told Errol something very important and special,’ she told me. ‘I told him that I was going to marry him so that we could be together always. I will never ever leave him, even when I’m old enough to go away to college, because he would just wail and throw a fit. So we are going to get married and always be together.’ Okay. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘you have lots of time to think about it.’ So that took care of that.
We heard the bus before we saw it, rolling down the road. My eyes welled up, and we walked her across the road. Confident as can be, she marched right up those bus steps and tugged at that string that I had so carefully tied around her. She tugged it clean off, leaving a small, but fresh wound on my heart and it stung. Boy, did it sting. I was truly surprised at how much. And then she was off.
So here I sit, bawling all over again as I write out the details, lest they be lost in the swift current of time. The house is quiet now; The Boy is sleeping. It is a house full of promise and new adventures for me, too. And I am off.