As I peek into your room, I see you pose in the mirror with your new school clothes on, I realise you are no longer my little baby. As you wiggle your front tooth, twirl your hair with your finger and bop to the beat of the radio, you are growing up into a big girl.
So different from the child I dropped off at Junior Kindergarten and almost unrecognizable from the baby you once were.
On the playground today, crowded with all of the kids from the entire elementary school, I noted that while I think of you as the big girl in our house, you are still a baby. My baby. One of the youngest in the school, with wide eyes, tender heart and an impressionable attitude. Both thrilled and disappointed to see the same backpack on other backs, pleased as punch to see familiar faces and excited but nervous about entering those giant doors to the new hallway of grade one.
I watched you boldly walk in the grade one line-up into those green doors like you had already done this many, many times. You waved and smiled. Any hesitancy was now gone as you walked in that school like this was what you were born to do.
Grade One is a big year. I can remember grade one, my desk, the smell of the pencil shavings, the cubbies in the back of the classroom, even the tulip bulbs our class planted under the window sills, like it was literally yesterday. And here I have a daughter entering into grade one. It’s bizarre really.
I remember my first day of grade one. Dressed in a dress-code suitable navy wool tunic, white blouse and white knee socks, I was sweating when I walked home. Kindergarten was dress-code free so my mom had sent me to grade one in my nicest new clothes for the dramatic first day.
I had Miss Shiller, a young teacher (who I’m sure was much younger than I am now) with permed curly hair and thick glasses. She was kind and loving and managed our grade one/two split with grace. I had a wooden desk up front on the opposite side of the classroom from the windows and her desk. That year there had been a sale at Woolco on slip-on blue canvas shoes with Smurf characters on them so most of the girls in our class had the same gym shoes lined up on their cubbies. In an era before Mabel’s Labels we often got the shoes mixed up since the pen markings wore off by day ten.
My best friend from Grade One, Lesley, was the maid of honour at my wedding, some 20 years later. I was a baby back then, but I made real friendships and had sound, impressionable experiences.
If I remember these things and more, then Lauren is embarking on a journey today that will mould her for the rest of her life. I hope that journey is smooth, wonderful and full of joy. I hope that whatever heartbreaks or disappointments she finds are teachable moments that make her a more kind and generous person.
Most of all, I hope my daughter stays herself.