I'd been nervous about Sloan's first day of kindergarten for years. I know it sounds dramatic, but when you're the parent of a timid, shy, and sensitive kid, these sorts of milestones can be particularly daunting. And when she was set to actually start at her new elementary school this past August, it wasn't exactly what we'd envisioned. She began the year by herself, at her desk in a virtual class. I insisted on a first day picture, backpack on and hair braided, only to guide her directly back inside after. We weren't sure if she'd ever get to actually be in person with her teacher (who deserves some sort of award for the job she's done) and other students, but this past week Sloan got to go to her kindergarten classroom.
Of course I cried, though a lot less than her first day at preschool. But as we walked in, G and I each holding one of her hands, I realized I was the only one feeling emotional. Gone was her nervous energy and "what if" questions, and what remained was a confident little girl striding onto an intimidatingly large campus. So many of my concerns these past thirteen months have been about Sloan, wrapped up in her wellbeing like a sweater that's too tight, constricted and overwhelming. I questioned how she'd be impacted by all the time alone, if her anxiety would spike, or if she'd fall behind, socially and academically. I spent so much time worrying that I failed to recognize just how much of a transformation had taken place.
As she waved us off that morning, I was reminded of the little memento she took with us on the day we moved out of our last house. It was a simple, gray paper butterfly that had once decorated her walls and rested in her palm as we drove away. She had tears lining her cheeks and I questioned why we'd uprooted our lives, in large part for an elementary school she wouldn't even be attending for several more months. And here we are, forever changed, but inching back toward some sort of normalcy, leaving our cocoons behind.