Elephant Ears and Prayers

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.


  1. this post moved me, your memories. i remember when i was in kindergarten our next door neighbor worked in the school library and one day i took the cafeteria cart back and went into the library and hid there until i found her.

    such a milestone this is. i remember at the end of Emily's kindergarten year her teacher saying what a different child she was, so scared and shy at the beginning and opened up by the end. my youngest i had to tuck kisses into her palms each morning and give her long hugs to last all day.

    good luck to you and Theo,i hope his days get easier and easier. thank goodness for mama's arms there at the end of the day.

  2. Oh, Katie. I'm praying for both of you.

  3. oh katie. i have tears in my eyes. he sounds like such a sweet and tender boy, i'm sending you strength.

  4. Oh goodness, this is so hard. I'm wishing you much love, strength, and hope Katie.

    ps. your writing is absolutely beautiful, I feel everything....

  5. Growing pains. Aren't they divine? Hugs, mama.

  6. such a heartfelt and moving post. I remember my fear and struggle in kindergarten, and thankful that my girls had a beautiful experience with their first year of school.

    sending love to you and Theo, hoping his school days get easier.

  7. Poor little thing! my heart aches for both of you. I hope things will get better soon.
    My eldest felt much better after making friends

  8. Thanks for all the support and sweet comments. I love this little ol' blogging community I've got around me. :)

    As for Theo - we'll just keep talking our way through it. I know he'll adjust. His love for learning is outrageous. We just need to keep supporting him.

    xo, Katie

  9. Oh the heartstrings! What an expressive soul. Beginnings are so hard. Hoping that the kindergarten days become easier for everyone.

  10. oh so sweet. I remember kindergarten, and reading this post- now w/ a 20 month son you have me imagining one day. The picture he drew of you two, so very sweet and full of love and emotion. Your post had me pondering the day my son begins school--I know school is good in life for so many reasons, but now the experience of having a babe and full of love-- letting go and independence is hard. Just the other day I was at a conference in a new college facility, which had me remembering my college days. Being in the classroom had me wanting to go back to school to learn and experience more. May Theo grow to love learning and experiencing life in school and beyond.