Her excitement and giggles made it impossible for me to take a photo. But she's smiling and happy and really, that's what counts.
I had been dreading the first day of Pre-K since the moment Stella turned 4. The thought that I would have to leave her with people she was not familiar with for hours at a time did not sit well with my heart; especially considering how attached she had become some time before her fourth birthday. For weeks, I would bring up school into our conversations just so she would get used to the idea, perhaps get excited about it. Every time someone reminded her that she was going to start school soon, she’d turned her face the other way and ignore the conversation or would answer with a simple “No, I’m not going”. Period. She was not having it.
She whispered in my ear one day that she didn’t want to go because she was afraid. I felt my heart sink and wished for a second that I could keep her home with me forever. I held her and promised everything would be ok. I told her there was nothing wrong with being afraid and that I, too, was afraid when I started school.
Slowly but surely her attitude started to change and I noticed a few smiles when saying the forbidden word. Suddenly one day she asked if the teacher would teach her how to read. She finally decided to pick up the backpack I bought her weeks ago. Although she kept repeating she didn’t want to go, she became interested and started asking questions.
When the day finally arrived she was happy, somewhat scared but happy. Maybe her happiness coincided with my mother being home this week but, nonetheless, she sang the whole ride to school and never stopped smiling. That was of course, until she realized it was time for me to go. She cried and refused to stay. I tried to be strong and not fall apart in front of her. After five or ten minutes of this, the teacher told me the longer I stayed the worst it would be. And I had to let go and leave my child crying in front of the classroom door. All this happening in front of my younger daughter who came along with us. I wiped my tears as I walked out the door without looking back. I felt an urge to walk back and peek through the window but rapidly changed my mind; it would’t be fair to let her see me again. After waiting ten minutes in the car I called the school to confirm she was Ok. Meanwhile, Lucia cried and kept repeating “I want Stella. Get Stella”. She had seen her sister cry and was concerned. I reassured her that we would return for her, that she was Ok.
After two hours and a half I returned to pick her up and there was my girl, all smiles. We had gotten through the day and it was all good.
Our lives are changing. My girls are growing. And it is all happening too soon.