I dreaded telling M that she would not be returning to her kindergarten class this year. After a VERY tough fall semester, she had just begun to hit her stride, to find herself, to fall in love. It had JUST gotten good. My M is a feeler, and those feelings come on hard and fast in that tiny little body. I was bracing myself for the conversation. How would she respond when she realized her time in her beloved teacher’s class had come to an end without an ending? How would she handle knowing that her first ride on a school bus for the annual field trip would have to wait? What would she think about the fact that school would continue at home and “not the way my teacher does it.”
I took a deep breath and told the truth. I told her that the germs were getting better but that it had been decided that it was safer for children to continue school at home. I told her that the next time she returned to school that she would be in first grade! Her face lit up. Wow! She basked in that for a minute, and then her face fell.
“I hope we do lots of Zoom calls then,” she said. “I really miss Mrs. H.” “I know you do,” I responded. “She misses you too.” The love for a teacher is such a special kind of love, and that bond is alive and well between M and Mrs. H.
On her way downstairs, M realized that the news I had just shared meant that her brother would next return to school as a preschooler. This filled her with excitement! She enthusiastically explained to W the great news and set out listing everything wonderful about Pre-K. Within minutes she had him set up at the table working on sight words, tracing his hand, and writing his name. It was amazing-both of them full of joyful anticipation of the journey to come.
In that moment, my children taught me that it’s ok to move on, although I’m not quite ready. I’m still grieving the loss of her kindergarten year and the moments she will miss with her teacher. I’m sad that I won’t ever hold W’s hand and walk him into his 3 year old preschool class again. Yet I refuse to miss the lesson they taught me in that moment as they looked ahead at what is to come. They taught me that we can move on, that we will move on, and that we must do it together and with joy.
Find the joy,
Jessica McCauley, M.Ed. is a parenting coach/consultant. She draws on her background as a Montessori educator and Child Life Specialist to help families navigate the challenges of the early childhood years. Contact Jessica at http://smallhandsbigsteps.com/contact/ for more information or to schedule a consultation.