I remember going to kindergarten. It was, up until then, the most terrifying time of my life. For the first few weeks I came home each day with a little note safety pinned to my shirt, Katie only cried for 25 minutes today. :). I recall feeling scared and lonely. At quiet time, I was the only one who ran to their cubby. My tattered and well-loved blankie was there, still damp from morning's tears. I'd grab my comfort and security and retreat to a dark corner of the room, grateful to be away from noise and this new mysterious pace. In my tiny spot on the floor I would fall asleep; a small hollow of solitude like the inside of a pearly shell. I always had to be woken up and, as the year rolled on, was voted the best (and only) class napper.
My sister and brother were also at the school, down hallways that felt miles long to my small feet and wild imagination. Knowing they were near was comforting, a little bit. Something about that first year of school rattled me to the core. I will always remember how small I felt in the cafeteria. I will always remember how expansive the stage felt. Forever, I will remember the smell of school purchased chocolate milk and the feel of the cardboard carton turning to sweaty pulp in my shaky hands.
And yet I fell in love with my teacher, Mrs. Welch. I made two very special friends, Amy and Chad. The playground and fields became a new retreat I quite liked, but not as much as the beach, which was my very favorite place on Earth. By the end of the year I had gained something life changing - independence and my own space, a real gift for the youngest of four. And I no longer tried to hide behind verdant elephant ears as big as me along the outdoor hallways. Instead, I started to draw them. In purple.
Theo is having a very hard time adjusting to kindergarten. Yesterday he came home with two notes for me. They were not pinned to him (I'm guessing that method of communication doesn't fly anymore), they were in his backpack. One was words dictated to his teacher and written on the back of a family photo I sent to school with him. He talked about feeling sad and was looking forward to when I would get there to pick him up. The other was simply a drawing. He drew himself on one side of the paper and me on the other side. In between was one long line connecting our bodies. When I asked him to tell me about the drawing he said, "That's me and you, and this line is my arm reaching so far away for you."
I quickly turned around and looked out the window. In the moment I did the only thing that felt right. I prayed.