The tears came in an unusual place for most moms, but maybe not so unusual for our family. It wasn't an apprehensive kindergartner or the veteran 4th grader, but the shy 3rd grader. She played it so cool this morning. Nonchalantly shrugging when I asked if she was nervous. Smiling like an old pro when the kindergartner confessed she was nervous.
When it came down to the moment, though, the nervous kindergartner dropped my hand, turned for a kiss at her classroom door, and bolted into the room without looking back. 3rd grader and I both laughed at her sudden change of heart and slowly walked over to the 3rd grade classroom.
I asked if she wanted me to leave.
Vigorous headshake. "No."
"Do you want to put your stuff down and look for some friends?"
Even more vigorous head shake and wide eyes. "No!" She clutched her lunch pail tightly and moved closer to me, watching the kids come and put their backpacks down and run off with their friends.
"Are you sure?" She looked up at me pleadingly as if to say, Stop asking, Mom! and my stomach clenched as tightly as her little hand gripped her lunch.
Her teacher opened the classroom door and invited the kids to line up in their spot. In that moment, the full weight of the new school, new teacher, new friends hit her and she looked at me with eyes full of tears and whispered, "Don't go!"
My own eyes pricked with tears as her anxieties became mine, but when she saw my tears she scowled her "Really, Mom?" scowl and we both sort of pulled it together, but not before her sweet teacher saw us both, teary eyed and nervous. She smiled and said hello, but didn't make a big deal, when I just whispered, "Transitions are hard for her." For us.
She smiled again and said, "How about we talk about a home visit after school? That will help us all get to know each other." I nodded and she turned to the next student, a giant lump rising in my throat. Omigawd, my kid's teacher is my new best friend!
My girl nervously scowled in line and I tried not to tell her to "smile, be friendly, people will want to be your friend if you SMILE!!", because no one wants to be that mom.
A classmate tried to introduce herself, but my girl just scowled and fought back tears, begging me not to go when I told her I would need to leave her at the classroom door, refusing to engage with the sweet, friendly girl in front of her.
She walked into the room, searched for her seat and looked woefully at me when she realized she was sitting with all boys. This morning over breakfast, when she was still chatty and optimistic she had said, "I really hope I don't have to sit with all boys. In first grade everyone at my table was a boy!" I assured her that certainly wouldn't happen, and even if it did, were boys all that bad? (Yes.)
I smiled reassuringly, waved and moved out of her line of sight. Watching for a few minutes as she surveyed her classroom, classmates, teacher. She took a deep breath and watched silently as a girl walked and sat in the remaining seat at their table. Wheew. Not all boys. She still looked pretty miserable, but it was fading ever so slightly, so I turned and walked back to my car, trying not to feel as miserable as she looked.
As I walked to my car, I mulled over every worry I have for my girl and all the things I could do to micromanage the situation. Will she allow herself to make friends? Should I invite her class for a park playdate? Will she retreat into her scowly, sarcastic self-defense mode? What can I do to make her more outgoing? Will kids write her off on the first day because she is scared? Will she feel behind in her studies? Is she behind in her studies? Should I volunteer in her classroom every single day so I can give her extra help if she needs it? Will she be alone at lunch or recess? What if she hates it? What if she never makes friends? What if.....?
I could list out my fears for my kids for days. Months, probably. When I reached my car and turned the ignition The Beatles "Let It Be" was on the radio. I took a deep breath and thought about the prayer my girls and I prayed on the way to school this morning.
We prayed for bravery and new friends. For kind and loving teachers (thank you God for that early answered prayer!). For confidence and wisdom. For the humility to learn and be taught new things. For the courage to make new friends and always be kind to loving to our peers. We prayed a lot about being brave and letting the day...the school year unfold as God wants it to.
We prayed to Let It Be.
God reminded me through a bunch of shaggy haired singers that He has this whole situation handled and I should let it be, man. So, I sighed, sniffled up my own tears and decided to Let It Be.
(But I'm still counting the minutes until her 2:00 pick up time! 61, if you are wondering...)