Family life

Anna bids adieu to kindergarten

Tracy processes this milestone — and ponders those ahead — with tissues firmly in hand.

By Tracy Chappell
Anna bids adieu to kindergarten

My little graduate.

As I write this, Anna is sitting with a flashlight in her room, reading books. Normally, she goes to bed at eight without a fuss, exhausted after catapulting herself through her day. As I hear her turning pages and giggling, I wonder if that’s about to change. And what other changes are on the horizon.
Because, you see, she’s no longer a kindergartner. This week I watched the procession of the SK graduates up the centre of the gym, caps on (and sometimes falling off) sweet little heads and big, proud smiles on faces still holding onto baby chub and bright-eyed, perfect innocence. They sang a few songs (including the hilarious “Grade One, Grade One,” set to the tune of Sinatra’s “New York, New York”), received diplomas with a handshake, then ran over to hug their moms and dads. I got a little teary. Anna was mostly just interested in the cake, but acquiesced to a few photos before digging in.
Yesterday, we also said goodbye to our daycare. As I picked the girls up, the walls were barren, the main room echoing with emptiness instead of songs and laughter. “Hug me, we aren’t going to see each other anymore,” Avery announced to her friends. Again, I got teary. A few of them ran over and hugged my legs, too. After all, I’ve watched them grow — week after week, year after year — from wee toddlers to bustling, hilarious kindergartners. We pulled the laminated apples with the girls’ names on them from over their hooks, and tucked them into their backpacks. We did a last check of the lost and found (and discovered a beloved sun hat of ours). The director let the girls choose a couple of toys to take home and hugged them tight. Then me. And I tried to hold it together. After all, they’re fine. Excited, even. This ending truly is just a beginning for them and I’m happy that they have embraced it as such. I just need a little time, is all.
Anna finishes up school this morning, but presented her teacher with her gift yesterday. We did end up doing the little book suggested by a faithful reader — a scrapbook that let Anna draw pictures of things her teacher could do on summer vacation (because she so badly wanted to draw pictures) and we put three gift cards in to correspond to her pictures. The first page was “Relax” with a Tim Hortons gift card (this was supposed to be for the LCBO, but they were sold out!); second page was “Read a book” with a Chapters gift card; third page was “Have a treat” with a Dairy Queen gift card.
I’ve heard a lot of people grumbling the last week or so about teachers’ gifts, ie: “I wish I got a gift for doing my job.” Of course, it’s a personal decision to give gifts or not and everyone does what’s right for him or her. But I think the real issue is that they’re unhappy with their child’s teacher, because if you love your child’s teacher, the gift doesn’t feel like an issue. We certainly lucked out and I wrote a nice thank you to let her know how much we appreciated her. I only hope that the years ahead will bring us similarly amazing role models for my girls.
And if I didn’t already feel that way, I would have after seeing the laminated memory book Anna brought home today, with pictures of her class and herself, her own drawings of her favourite things and friends, and an “autograph” page at the back. At the end, was this poem signed by her teacher:
I’m glad I was your teacher
I’ve come to love you so
I can’t believe the end is near
I’m sad to see you go
Remember all the fun we had
In all the things we did
But most of all remember
You’re a very special kid!
You guessed it, I’m getting teary again.
But onward we go, to the new world of grade school. How will Anna she handle sitting at her desk all day? Will she make some good friends? Will she eat all her lunch at snack time? Will she finally decide she wants to wear jeans?
These are questions for later. First, we’ll enjoy summer. We’ll see how camps go. We’ll get Avery settled into her new daycare. We’ll vacation and we’ll picnic and we’ll play. And we won’t take a moment for granted. In the famous words of Ferris Bueller: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around every once in a while, you could miss it." Hope you have an incredible summer of fun, my friends.
How are you and your kids handling the end of school? (Probably with more cheers and fewer tears!)

This article was originally published on Jun 29, 2012

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