Today was an open-house/orientation at my daughter’s new school. She is almost three, and going on 30 (or so it seems). Watching her grow up is bitter-sweet. As I mentioned to another father, I look forward to when she’s older, but I miss her time as a baby. It’s an interesting paradox of parenthood―you want your kids to grow up, while also never changing.
My daughter has always been very shy around other people. It’s not uncommon for her to hide behind my legs if somebody shoots her a smile or warm greeting. She feels most comfortable in either my arms, or those of my wife. As much as we love having her close, we also want to see her detach, and live.
I fully expected her to be very reserved this evening. I couldn’t have been more mistaken. We were the first in her class to arrive. This meant Sophie got to choose which of the toys, in all the classroom, she wanted to explore. It didn’t take long for her to run straight for the play-kitchen, and begin “cookin’ suppuh.”
Not long after, “Olivia” showed up. She was about Sophie’s age and size. We later learned that they differ only by 2 months in age. Olivia also wanted to play with the play-kitchen. This was it. The moment we have been dreading. Certain that our daughter would tense up and flee from Olivia’s presence, she instead greeted the young girl with a friendly remark: “I’m cookin’.”
We spent about an hour in that classroom. The teacher, Mrs. Darlene, made her rounds. She’d stop and talk with each set of parents, chat with their child, snap a friendly photo, and move on. She was sweet, and made a great impression on Sophie. At one point, Sophie even took her hand, and proceeded to follow her to the other side of the classroom, far away from my wife and me.
Sophie didn’t shut down a single time tonight. Since arriving, she ran, laughed, and played with her classmates. She explored her homeroom, the Spanish classroom, and the large open room wherein kids will sing, dance, and play instruments. I suppose it helped quite a bit that each teacher greeted her with a fun sticker. She built-up quite the collection before the night was over.
Tomorrow is the real test, though. Tomorrow she will spend 5 hours without me or my wife. She’s never really done anything even remotely like that.
I fully expect there to be tears tomorrow. I fully expect there to be a reluctance to detach. I expect there to be a great deal of anxiety tomorrow. But who knows, maybe my wife and I will behave like mature adults 😉
Sophie, I am so proud of you.