If I really concentrate, I can still hear your little toddler voice. You didn’t always get all the letters quite right but you sang the Alphabet Song with absolute confidence anyway. Almost as if, right or wrong, people should sing it your way. The ending was your favorite part. You’d yell out, “Now I know my ABCs, next time won’t you sing with me?!”
You’re still brazen. Even now, when you’re learning something new, you like to embellish things if you don’t quite remember the facts. Math answers stated quickly and without hesitation, hoping we won’t notice your solution is actually, well, wrong. Book reports with made up parts. I’m not sure if it’s because you think the story could use a little enhancing or if some of the words were too advanced and you struggled to comprehend the whole story. What is true, however, is the days of learning the alphabet are far behind us. This year, you’ll enter third grade.
As I reflect on all the teachers we’ve partnered with, I know for certain you’re ready. Our first teacher at this brand-new-to-us school, who always had a smile and a hug, for you and for me, every time we entered the classroom. Does she know we still keep the sweet notes she’d send home on occasion? Then the one who loves music like you do. I’ll never forget the delight on your face when you came home and told me you liked her so much because she danced while she gave the lesson. I knew we had a great match on our hands. Just a few months ago - is it possible that’s all it was - the kind one. She had such patience with every student in her classroom. Her note at the end of the school year thanked you for all the laughs. In that moment, I understood why it had been your best year yet. She got you.
You’ve only had two backpacks. Your first day of kindergarten, I remember walking you down our lane to put you on the school bus. We didn’t know the driver or one single person on that bus. The backpack looked big enough to tip you over. The bus looked monumentally bigger. You didn’t even turn to look back at me. You rarely do.
Then, about halfway through first grade, you declared the first backpack too plain. Remember that? So we went to the craft store and got some patches for it. Unicorns, rainbows, monkeys, kittens and pandas. Plain no more! The temptation to pick at the patches proved too much for you though. In about a month, you’d picked each one off and we were back to a plain old backpack.
We got you a new backpack for second grade. A bright, colorful one with an “A” stitched on the front in bright green thread. You were so excited to carry that new one and strutted onto the bus. You told Ms. Vicki all about it, I’m certain. These days, we no longer have a stranger for a bus driver. She’s our friend.
The beginning of this school year couldn’t be more different than that first one. Your reading has taken off. You’ve grown into those backpacks. We’ve found a community through that school. I’ve lived in a lot of places and I know how hard it can be to call a new place “home.” It’s much easier when you have an outgoing kid. Everywhere we go in town now, we see familiar faces.
At the elementary school art show last spring, Dad went with us. He’s often working and can’t attend all your school functions. We walked the halls and kept receiving friendly greetings from teachers and kids older and younger. He was amazed at how many people knew us both by name. In a few weeks, we’ll walk those halls again. But this time, we’ll know we belong.