Tomorrow is the last day of Kindergarten for my youngest daughter... and I've been teary-eyed about the fact all day. Not because I'll suddenly have less quiet time for a few months, or have to remember just how to make lunch again, but because after tomorrow my baby won't be a Kindergartener anymore. In fact, she won't be a baby at all. She will be a first-grader.
She has grown and learned so much these past nine months, under the tutelage of the most wonderful of teachers. She can read and write and add and subtract and tie her own shoes. Last week, she came home with the "Dairy Queen Superstar Award", given to only the most dedicated students, due in part to the fact (at least, according to her) that she has not once this whole year received even one warning for bad behavior. She can't wait to cash in the coupon for a free "treat meal" at DQ.
Today she brought home the most beautiful gifts... a memory book of the whole year, assembled by her teacher Mrs. Marshall. It has photos and projects and drawings my daughter created from the very first day of school and all through the year, bound together in a book with her photo on the front. I have most of the projects stored in a box, as I could not bring myself to throw out much but the most basic of worksheets when they came home in her tattered backpack at the end of each day. But for this teacher to make sure each student made two of everything, so that she could gift such a lovely book to the parents (who, even in the best of times, can be frazzled and disorganized) is such an act of forethought and kindness it brought tears to my eyes. She also sent a DVD of photos taken throughout the year, of the first day and of field trips, of "Donuts for Dads" and "Grandparents Day" and "Moments with Mom". These are the sorts of things that, when displayed twelve years from this very weekend as people gather in my home to celebrate her graduation from high school, will be priceless mementos we might not otherwise have had.
I am so grateful to Mrs. Marshall for giving my daughter such a perfect introduction to lifelong learning, and documenting the entire year as she did. What a wonderful gift, and one that will positively impact my daughter for the rest of her life. No parent could ask for more. How lucky we are to have enjoyed such a wonderful Kindergarten year!
Right now, however, I don't want her to be a first-grader... not to mention a high-school graduate. I want her to be my baby for a little while longer, to curl up in my lap and let me read to her, to need me when she scrapes her knee or fights a cold. I want to hear her ramble on from the backseat, relating her kindergarten soap operas and what she learned about spiders that day. I want to preserve that baby-toothed smile that stops me in my tracks; to stop time, make it stand still, capture and caress it. I want her to keep surprising me with big words she shouldn't know and pragmatism far beyond her years and humor all her own.
She's my last baby, a miracle and a treasure. I've savored every moment of her existence... and just wish that existence wouldn't fly by quite so fast. But I am forever grateful that when it came time to let go a little and allow someone else to nurture, teach and guide my precious child, it was Mrs. Marshall who took her by the hand and ushered her so lovingly into her school years. What a blessing.
Thank you, Mrs. Marshall, from our whole family. It's been a wonderful year and one we will remember always.