She had been up since 3:30 AM. Watching Barney, no less. This was a regular day in the neighborhood for us, except it wasn’t. This was her first day of nursery school. Ever.
The summer before, and the months before that, we read books together, she sang her ABC’s, and tried to write the letters in her name. She was so excited to meet new friends and have her very own teachers. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that her mom was a teacher, but maybe not.
So as 6:30 and 7:00 approached, she ate her oatmeal, we put on a fresh diaper, and she got dressed for the big day. I had always thought that this day would be very special, and that I would get to dress her in an adorable first day outfit, but that’s not how it went down.
She pulled out everything pink that she owned and put it on. Pink striped stockings. A pink sweatshirt with a bear on it. And pink overalls. And, wait for it, socks with pink hearts on them. Proudly, she announced that She. Was. Ready.
But was I ready?
With her two-month-old sister in tow, we loaded up the car with car seats, her pink school bag and lunch box, and an extra change of clothes – just in case. I had film in my camera, and tears in the corners of my eyes. My big girl was going to nursery school!
We drove through town, pulled into the parking lot and took a look around. Other kids were already standing on the steps, smiling at their parents while their pictures were being taken. I think to myself, ok, it’s time to drop her off at nursery school where she’ll learn about letters and numbers, become a little bit independent, and play nicely with others.
And then it happened.
She got out of the car and ran up the steps. Before she went inside, I said, “Wait! I want to take your picture!” She turned around, leaned forward, and with her hands on her hips and a look of disbelief on her face announced to me, and any other parents around, “It not fo’ mommies! It fo’ kids!” She turned back around, and in she went, no picture taken. It’s a good thing she’s cute.
Fast forward 16 years, to college move-in day.
You see it coming, right?
She got up at 3:30 AM. This was about to be her first day of college. Ever.
The summer before, and the months before that, we spent buying sheets, towels, hangers, and every possible dorm item she could need. She was so excited to meet new friends and get to know her professors. Maybe it was because her mom’s a school administrator, but maybe not.
So as 6:30 and 7:00 approached, we had already driven many hours to get to the college. I thought move-in day was going to be very special, where we would help set up her dorm and take “the picture,” but that’s not how it went down.
She pulled out everything she owned from the car, and loaded it into wagons. Gray comforter. A gray plastic dresser. And, wait for it, a gray toolbox. Proudly, she announced that She. Was. Ready.
But was I ready?
With other family members in tow, we helped bring everything to her dorm room. My phone’s battery was still charged, and I had tears in the corners of my eyes. My big girl was going to college!
We walked through the halls, climbed up the stairs and rode on the elevators. We took a look around. Other kids were moving into their dorms, hugging their parents, and posing for “the picture “… the one where their dorm room is all set up, the bed is perfectly made and the student is sitting on it, relaxed and smiling. I think to myself, it’s time to drop her off at college where she will learn about the world, become a lot more independent, and make new friends.
And then it happened.
She walked into her room, and put her hands on her hips. She told us where to put things, while she supervised. After I made her bed I said, “I want to take your picture!” She had a look of disbelief on her face. A look that I knew I’d seen before. Then she said, “This is my room. I got this. You can go now.”
We turned ourselves around, and off we went. She got down to business in her new college, no picture taken. It’s a good thing she’s still cute.