Sophie’s 1st Day of Preschool


She was so excited. When I woke her up yesterday morning, she claimed she was still tired (we had just returned from a wonderful visit—but long drive—to see Grandma and Paw Paw Uhl in Baltimore). Then I reminded her about preschool. Never before have I seen someone perk up so quickly in the morning.


Her backpack.


I was worried about Baby Doll. And Baby Doll’s diaper bag. But Sophie said Baby Doll could stay in the car, as long as I took care of her. I promised I would.


After I got her out of bed (and by bed, I mean our bed—that’s another story) she ran to my closet and pulled out my purple shoes, insisting I wear them for this special day. I did. (Her first-day-of-school outfit, by the way, was a gift from Grandma. She was so excited to wear it.)



Nini helped with first day of school preparations, too, with a book, The Kissing Hand, and the above card. We read it to her over and over again. Still, I was worried. We had been talking about preschool for months—and I knew she was excited to go. But I was worried about the actual day. And the fact that we weren’t going to walk in with her—rather the teacher was going to come out and get her.


I shouldn’t have been worried. Look how happy she was on the short drive there.


Once we pulled up to the school I got out, fanned out the fingers of her left hand and kissed her palm. She smiled (and refused to put her palm to her cheek). I unbuckled her and she (slowly) left the van. And turned around. Assured. Happy. Waving goodbye. It was as it should have been. (Note I wasn’t crying at this point.)


(This is where I cried.)


And the pick-up.

This week she only went Tuesday and Wednesday for an hour each day. Next week she goes for an hour and a half, and the week after she’ll begin her full 2-1/2 hour days, Monday through Wednesday.

Yesterday, before we could even get her buckled in, she said, “Are you ready to hear what happened?”

“Yes!” we said.

She told us about sitting on the line and singing “Open and Shut Them” and her “work” and the small potty.

Today, after I buckled her in, I asked her about her day. “We did the same thing as yesterday,” she said.

I tried asking again, a more detailed question this time.

“Enough, Mama! I don’t want to talk about it! I’ve had a long day and I’m tired.”

Seriously? I assumed such a response from my someday-junior-high child—not from my 3 year old.

So far she’s been quiet about today’s activities although she has asked when she gets to go back. I take that as a good sign. And maybe, someday, she’ll share with me the books she reads, the songs she sings, the friends she makes, the pictures she paints.

Everyone said the 2-1/2 hours would go so fast. She isn’t even going 2-1/2 hours yet, only an hour, and these past two days, it has gone by so slow. I know that will change. And I know that, perhaps in even a week, I’ll wonder why I didn’t sign her up for five days a week. It’s just different at home, with Owen and James and no Sophie. Not better. Not worse. Different. The dynamic has changed. As it will when she shifts to her 2-1/2-hour days. And then, next year, five days a week. The year after that, kindergarten. And then school. And then, someday, college, perhaps—away from home.

That’s the nature of life, shifting, changing, adjusting, readjusting, renewing. I understand that. But life—our life—didn’t just shift yesterday. Rather, I feel like it jolted forward. I knew this was coming, yes, but in a “so far away” manner. Not, as in, this week. I look at her as changed. She’s older to me now. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. She surprises me with her thoughts. The thickness of her hair. Her tallness.

I swear, she’s smarter.

Take today’s lunch, for example. She was fingering a slice of green pepper on her plate, not wanting to eat it. “It’s just like a pickle!” I said, as she loves pickles. I felt a little bad about this, as green peppers are nothing like pickles, but consoled myself with the fact that both are green so it wasn’t an all-out lie.

She looked at the green pepper for a moment. And then at me. And then her eyes narrowed and she smiled, slightly. “Are you tricking me?” she asked.

My daughter, she’s growing up. I can no longer trick her into eating something she doesn’t want. She’s experiencing things I can’t bear witness to. It’s up to her whether she shares her day’s activities with me or not.

I love that she finds comfort in her nest, our home. But I’m also so very happy she was eager to leave it—and, perhaps selfishly, for now, eager to come back home, too. Eager with her hug and “I love you” and tickling of the boys. Eager to go back. Eager to stay. Eager for life, in general.

“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings.” —Hodding Carter, Jr.