Well, we did it.
We dropped our little kindergartener off at school. He didn't even look back. As soon as we pulled up - we heard ecstatic shouts of "School!! School slide!!" from the back seat.
Can you tell he was ready?
I'm not going to lie. It's been a long summer. I had so many plans for him - beaches, projects, goals to meet, parks, picnics, water parks.
But, thanks to the teeny-tiny, yet somehow exhausting baby in my belly, 99.7% of those things did not happen.
Talk about mommy guilt.
So - off to school we go. Carter smiling from ear-to-ear, and Mama smiling almost as much (but, of course, trying to act sad so the other kindergarten moms don't think I'm heartless).
We line up with his class, his aide takes his hand, and I couldn't feel more at peace. Carter is in a perfect place. His team of professionals are amazing. His teachers have welcomed him with open arms and open hearts. He has a place in the classroom - mixed right in with his peers. Right where he belongs.
A few days ago, I got an email from his teachers. They said something that cut me so deep.
"We are so excited to have Carter in our class!" - and they mean it.
He is included. He is appreciated for his strengths. He is a valuable member of their classroom family.
Dropping off my kindergartener didn't draw a single tear from my eyes - but typing this does. Our little guy. Included and valued. What more could we possibly ask for?
Do you know how many people fight for this? Do you know how many mamas around the country are shedding tears today, because they so desperately want someone in their school to see the value in their special child?!
We are so, so grateful.
After dropping Carter off, I headed to the book room to do some alphabetizing. I knew that getting involved in Carter's school would be easiest if I started right away, instead of waiting until 'next year' or 'later on'.
First day in kindergarten, and I'm alphabetizing books :)
Sidenote: alphabetizing is hard. It's not a function my brain is used to. I sang the alphabet 48 times, just to make sure that R came before S.
Around 9:15 is when the real fun began.
Did I mention that Carter's teachers are incredible? Okay. Well, they are. I mentioned to them early in the summer that I'd like to create a book to have them read to the class during the first few weeks, and that I'd like to send one home with each student.
They said I should come in and read it to everyone on the first day. So I did.
This book was nothing extraordinary - I just filled it with things that Carter could do, just like his classmates, with lots of pictures of Carter being a typical kid.
"Carter loves to jump in puddles. Do you?"
"Carter loves to eat ice cream. Do you?
"Carter loves to make treats with his mom. Do you?"
The response was delightful. "Ohhh! I like to do that!" and "Hey - I do that too!". Yes, little ones. You do so many things just like Carter.
You really are more alike than different.
I couldn't help but think about my dear friend, Mae, who told me a long time ago that from the moment I became Carter's mommy, I also became a teacher. She told me that forever & ever, I would be a teacher. A teacher to his friends, a teacher to our community, a teacher to the lady in the check out ahead of us, a teacher to his teachers. I didn't know what she meant until today.
Aha. I am a teacher. Our little ones (and lots of big ones, too) need to be taught how to include Carter. They need to be taught how to value Carter. And if I don't teach them, who will?
I gave my sweet baby a kiss, and left for the day. My first day of freedom.
It was a hard day.
What?! I already told you, we were both ready for this day.
Did I miss him? Yes. Like crazy. Did I wonder what he was doing? Every single minute. But the break was good, and when he came home I was able to hug him with new & fresh arms, that missed his tugging and climbing so much today.
Our cherished little kindergartener had a treat from his Mimi AND his NaNa after school today, just in case he forgot while he was at school that he's a spoiled rotten only-grandchild. Well, at least for the next 6 months.
It's amazing how much I have to share with you when I don't have a busy bee running around here. I think I might be rambling now.
Let's wrap this up. To kindergarten. New beginnings, new growth, new friends, new freedoms.
So incredibly grateful.
One Thing I Know For Sure: Ready to rock kindergarten.
"A Little More About Carter" Notes:
I made this booklet using Word. You can too, you just need to play with it. Mine is printed 2-up on a 8.5x11 copy paper, front & back. You'll save yourself many headaches and bad-words if you just do them one sided, trust me. My wording on the inside is SUPER simple - my hope was that some kids might be able to read it themselves. It was highly repetitive (I love to.....! Do you? - over & over). I made a large copy and had it bound - that is what I read to the class today. It was made heavy-duty, and will be kept in their little classroom library for the kids to revisit throughout the year.
I got the title for my book from this blog post. She will send you a template for the booklets if you ask nice. I didn't use her template or any of her wording. Just her title. Because it's so much cuter than "All About Carter" :)
And to my friend, Carin - thanks for all the awesome ideas you've given me about how to introduce our kiddos to their classmates & families. You are an incredible 'teacher' - one who I aspire to be like! Your passion is what sparked my idea for this book. I thought of you so much today.
And now you're all wondering who Carin is, right? Go here. Just do it. Go and read and CRY YOUR EYES OUT LIKE A BABY.
Rambling. Done. Bye!