Left behind.

211 days without yelling, 154 days of loving more to go!

Dear the only orange box in the classroom,

I can’t believe of all the places to be in my son’s Kindergarten classroom you are directly above his name on his cubby. He knows orange is my new favorite color and every time he sees orange he thinks of me. So thank you for being there, in my place, today and everyday the rest of the year.I know you are just a box but to my son, when he is missing me, you will be a great reminder to him that I love him and will be picking him up soon.

Mommy Orange Rhino


I have started kindergarten three times now. And each time has had the same result: tears from being left behind.

My first day was September 1981. I was 3. My older brother was 5. It was his first day really, but it was my first day without my best friend home with me. I distinctly remember leaving him and bursting into tears as I walked back up the driveway with just my mom. By the time she entered the house I was a full on mess. My face was hot and sticky, my dress was covered in slobber and I had already thrown myself in a heap on the ground at least twice. My mom had tried to soothe me but there are only so many words that can make one feel better when their best friend leaves them behind. So she went inside and lovingly told me she was there when I was ready to come in. Alone. Finally, I gave in. I opened the metal screen door with my trembling arms and took one step then another step in. But I was too weak and too upset to open the door wide enough to guarantee that the spring on the door wouldn’t slam shut on me as I stepped inside.

OUCH!!!! More tears commenced as the metal door nailed the back of my foot, ripping off all the skin. Blood oozed out faster than my tears.

I was a mess. Inside and out.

My second first day of Kindergarten was September 1983. I was 5 and a half. This was my OFFICIAL first day of Kindergarten. I don’t remember much except for walking in with my mom and standing at the big door to the classroom and refusing to go in. I hid behind my mother as the big booming and intimidating voice of my teacher told me rather briskly and without any intonation of love “Orange Rhino, it is time to let go of your mother’s hand and be a big girl now.”

OUCH!!! More tears commenced as she took my hand and led me away leaving my mom at the door.

I was a mess. Inside and out.

And then I heard the sweetest voice ever. It was that of a 1st grader named Kathryn. She was sitting at circle time with a big purple pillow that was as cozy looking as she clearly felt.

“Orange Rhino, why don’t you come sit next to me? I’ll share my pillow with you.”

To this DAY I can still tell you exactly what that pillow looked like and exactly how Kathryn looked and sounded. Isn’t it amazing how one kind gesture can stay with you a lifetime?

And my third first day of Kindergarten was, well today. September 6, 2012. I am 34 and a half. My son is almost 6. It is his first official day of Kindergarten, my first official day as a mom of a Kindergartener. He’s been dreading this day since the last day of pre-school. I’ve been dreading it since the day he was born I think. Because I know what first days of Kindergarten contain: tears and being left behind.

And that is what I dreaded today.

Being left behind.

By one of my best companions, my oldest son.

For all the complaining I do about how long the days are, how hard they are, how hard he can be, he is the greatest little companion a mom could ask for. He asks great questions, makes heartfelt proclamations, laughs in a way that eases all pain, and shares so many of my interests. And oh how I didn’t want him to start the journey of “real school” where he spends more time in school than he does with me. Oh how I didn’t want to accept that it was the beginning of letting go. The beginning of him being more confident in himself, the beginning of him loving me still, but needing me a little less. It is a great beginning for him, I know, but still a hard one to grasp.

So no, I didn’t want him to go to Kindergarten today. I wanted to hold on to this summer forever. I wanted to keep him young and home forever. And yet I knew I couldn’t. I knew I had to let go, I had to let him grow without me. And so I drove him to Kindergarten against my will. I put on a brave face so he didn’t sense that I was sad that we were being separated. I put on a smile so he was excited and not nervous. I assured him I would see him soon so he knew that I will ALWAYS LOVE HIM and will ALWAYS be there for him even as he grows and becomes more independent.

We pulled up to the front door and the teacher opened the door. He got out more gracefully than I ever expected, waved good bye, said “I love you mommy” and then BAM. The door slammed shut as harshly as it did thirty-one years ago.

OUCH!!! The tears finally commenced.  OH did they commence. I bawled like I did on my first day of Kindergarten in 1981. And in 1983.

I was a mess inside and out.

I bawled because I was left behind, again.
I bawled because I was so proud of him for finding the courage to do something he was afraid of.
I bawled because he showed confidence that he didn’t have a year ago.
I bawled because it was beyond clear that my first baby was growing up.
I bawled because I had to let go.

I bawled because I love him so.

Wondering what this has to do with Yelling? Lots. Have a read tomorrow night! 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

9 thoughts on “Left behind.

  1. Pingback: Maternal disappointment. | The Orange Rhino Challenge

  2. That is so beautiful and now I’m bawling. My son is about to start kindergarten on Monday and I have been dreading that day. It seemed so far away five years ago, but it came so fast. He seems so grown up now and I just want to hold him again as a tiny baby just one more time. He will likely be my only child and this is just so hard.

    • Heather, I know how you feel. My one and only sweet girl, started first grade yesterday. I dreaded Kindergarten even more. I am full of shoulda, coulda, wouldas from the summer. The only advice I can give is to stay involved as much as you can. If this is possible for you, join the PTA, attend meetings and volunteer at the school. It helps to know what is happening at the school, so you don’t feel so left behind. At least it did for me. Good luck to you.

  3. I have done it three times. Its emotional but they just love the interaction with other kids. One of the first steps to letting go…..

  4. I totally understand how you all feel. Mine began the day I had to return to work after maternity leave. Taking my children to daycare and leaving them in someone elses care is the hardest thing I have ever done. Even after 4 years of doing it I still feel guilt over being a working mom. There are days when they don’t want me to leave them and they cling to me tightly and then sob when I hand them to the teacher. Other days they are so excited to go and wave bye as they head into class. Either way I feel sorrow that I am leaving them behind. Or maybe I feel left behind because in my mind I am missing out on so much.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *