A GRACE FILLED JOURNEY • Fighting The Back To School Blues

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We’ve got the “back to school blues” at our house, although it’s not affecting who you might think.

Charley, now age four, started her first day of preschool this week, and I’m left feeling a little on the lost side.

Although she could have started preschool last year, in the midst of the pandemic with Grace at home, we just never felt comfortable sending her.

But this year, we have been talking about school all summer long, and she was ready to go. Ready to make new friends. Ready to check out a new playground and ready to be without mom and dad, even if only for a little bit.

She had an open house and orientation last Monday night, and as we got loaded in the van to drive to Coffeen, she wondered aloud how come mom had to go with her and asked when she could start going to school by herself. I tried my best not to be offended, but rather happy at her independence and excitement for school.

She loved every minute of the open house. We had a scavenger hunt in her classroom, took first day of school selfies in the hallway, and she even got some time on her own while I went to orientation with her teacher and other parents. We ended the night with her first chance to play on the school playground and a celebratory Happy Meal from McDonald’s.

Ever since we have started talking about school, Charley asked about riding the bus. I don’t even know where she found out some kids get to ride the bus to school, but she has been excited. Initially, Kyle and I thought we would take her, but we only live a block from the elementary school, so this year might be her only chance to ride the school bus. And the district provides an option where parents can meet at the high school and drop kids off for a bus of only pre-K kids bound for Coffeen.

She spent all day Tuesday talking about going to school and riding the bus. We explained that we would be taking her the first day, much to her chagrin. But she agreed with a promise that she could ride the bus on Thursday.

Then the big day finally came. We took a plethora of photos–it was her very first day of school after all. We parked outside and took some more photos before heading back to the car. I wasn’t sure Charley was going to tell us goodbye, but she did turn around and come back for a quick hug for her dad before heading in to her first day.

We could hardly wait to head back to school and pick her up in a couple of hours, and she was equally excited, although we have only a few details about what actually transpired that morning. She likes to tell us that it’s a secret.

Thursday and Friday were banner days as well, and when we picked her up on Friday, we celebrated with a family road trip for lunch, followed by ice cream at The Milk House in Greenville. It was two thumbs up for all of us.

Charley is definitely ready to get back on the bus again Monday morning, but her momma has a little trouble. This first day of school is much different than Grace’s first days. I knew that Grace would always need me. But Charley–she’s already showing signs of independence at four years old. In my heart, I know she’ll always need her mom, but maybe just not as much as Grace did.

I think this year will be a learning experience for Kyle and I. Lots of firsts, maybe some lasts, and hopefully lots of smiles and laughter in between. But for now, I think I’ll enjoy a few snuggles on the couch and hugs outside the school for as long as she will let me.

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