When Gwen was 2 years old I read the complete Winnie-The-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner books to her. I thought I had read them before, but as I read each chapter aloud, I realized I only thought I knew all the stories. It wasn't an easy book to read aloud, and even harder to keep a 2-year-old interested with the difficult language and winding thoughts of Pooh and his friends. And yet, I enjoyed reading it to her and she enjoyed listening to it, or at least she enjoyed the special time we spent reading together on the twin mattress tucked into the corner of her tiny bedroom of our home in Mason City. It was a simple time. One child to care for. One child to read to. One child to put all my efforts into. Sometimes I long for that time with my boys. I try desperately to get quiet, alone time with Colin and Luke, but it's just harder. Now I realize how special those years were with Gwenyth.
As we worked our way through the book I looked forward to reading the next adventure of Pooh and Piglet. I found myself loving the characters as if I were a child again. So, when the ending came, I was unprepared. I had read the book with a child-like mind, until the last chapter when I was snapped back to adulthood. I tried to keep myself together as I read the last chapter, but the tears flowed and a very confused 2-year-old couldn't understand why Mama was crying over Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin. I will let you read the chapter for yourself as you send your own children off to school for the first time...
A week ago Gwenyth and Colin started their year at Kinderhaus. It will be Gwen's 3rd and final year there, and Colin's 1st year. I struggled with the decision of education this year. When I stand back and look at it, it is a decision of privilege. We were choosing between a wonderful public kindergarten or a wonderful outdoor multi-age preschool. Wow. There are parents in this world that would give up most anything to have one of those two options, and here I am with two.
Well, right up until Kinderhaus began I questioned if I had made the right decision. I felt strongly that they should go to Kinderhaus together, and yet as I talked to other parents I wondered if Gwen should have gone to Kindergarten, or if I should have kept Colin home one more year, or if I should have sent him for 4 mornings instead of 2. So many choices, and so many different opinions! I had to stand back and look at my family, my children and myself to make the final decision.
The answer because crystal clear the first morning they attended Kinderhaus together. Watching them work together and look forward to spending time together made my Mama heart smile!
Gwen checked Colin's backpack to make sure he had his water bottle and rain pants. She helped him pick out his clothes and get all his outdoor gear on. She told him all about what the day would be like and said over and over "It's going to be SO fun!!"
Once we arrived at Kinderhaus she lead the way to put their backpacks away and later she told me that she even asked the teachers to move his "cookie" (a flat stump to sit on for circle time and snack) next to hers during snack time.
I'm sure there will be days where they argue over who gets to hang up their backpack first, or who gets to tell me about the day, or any other number of small things that are blown up into the world's most important moment in the eyes of a child. While those moments will try my patience and I will think longingly about that first day, I know that these memories will stay with them for a lifetime.
So - we say goodbye to another summer and hello to the schedule and rhythm of the school year.
It's going to be good.