My daughter is a very emotional being.
She's a hopeless romantic, she feels with her heart more than most I think. She's always had a really hard time with goodbyes. No matter how we prepared her for the end of a play date or the end of an evening or the end of a movie, the end would come as it surely does and she would look at me, her eyes filling with tears and a wail escaping from the depths of her body into the air all around her. I've come to love her for it.
Today is the very last day of kindergarten. It snuck up on us all, like all good years they come and go and we as parents are left standing in the dust of yesterday wondering how it can all go by so fast. The end of a long, hard school year for us.
I never wanted Frankie to go to Kindergarten. I had big homeschooling dreams and a chip on my shoulder about the archaic school system. Frankie had other dreams. It came down to the deal that we would let her try it out... but it had to work for the entire family and our wacky schedule and our belief systems. She was lucky enough to get a spot in a Montessori Elementary School in our city, one that is drawn by lottery. She was lucky again when her very best friend won another coveted spot in her class. And so we began school.
I had a very hard time with it. Mostly because she was gone all day long and I missed her terribly. Missed the days we'd spend exploring the forest and finding treasures by the ocean. It seemed school ate up most of her time and she was so tired by the end of each day she seemed to have nothing left.
I fought the battles of homeschooling versus traditional schooling mostly in my head, though I know a defiant piece of me came out in colors sometimes. I didn't agree with everything. I was unsure about her teacher. I watched her try on a few personalities that were certainly not going to cut it around the house.
Somewhere in between the winter and the spring I started to see something change. The flow of the week got easier, she adapted to the hours spent at school and we took time off when I felt our family needed it. I watched my daughter make friends and connections with other children - and other adults. I made connections. Found friends. We got into the swing of after school time together, later dinners and weekends away. It isn't how I'd ideally like to do things, but when your children want something - love something, you make changes and you learn to roll with it. You might even learn to love it too.
By the end of the year I found myself loving her school more than not. I felt myself get swept up by the spirit of sports day, the feeling of family at the assemblies and the kinship between students. I adored her classmates. I saw the teachers for who they were and what they believed in and I was blown away by how much they cared. I was humbled.
I didn't realize how much Frankie's school and kindergarten class mattered to me until I walked her into class today for the very last time this year. Seeing the children surrounding their teacher in a sea of loose teeth and ponytails and homemade cards, I was taken aback by how much I cared about them. I kissed my daughter for the day and stood in the door watching the class for one last time. I felt a lump in my throat and hot tears on my cheeks before I could even try and stop them.
I guess you could say this is the last day of Kindergarten for both of us. Just like my daughter, I am learning a lot this year. How to share, how to make friends and how to be kind and compassionate. I am accepting and understanding just what the school system, or at least this school has to offer. I've become somewhat emotional and romantic about the idyllic childhood milestones of school.
And so it seems today... just like my daughter - I have a hard time with goodbyes.