First Days

IMG_6982First Days…we’ve all had them.  First day on the job.  First day of a new relationship.  First day of marriage.  They are exciting.  They are important.  They are milestones.

I am very familiar with first days of school.  If you count my first days of preschool through college and then my first days of school as a teacher, I think I’ve had 39 first days of school (40 counting tomorrow).  As my principal mentioned in our meeting yesterday, that’s the exciting thing about teaching.  We get to start fresh every year.  So do the kids.  New hopes, new excitements, new firsts.

Tomorrow is our son’s first day of kindergarten.  Now this is a milestone that I am still absorbing.  In fact, it keeps jumping up and poking me in the heart at the oddest times, leaving me in tears made of something I can’t quite describe–not sadness, not joy, but some misty combination of pride, deep love, and sorrow at the quick passing of time.  Our sweet, high-energy, deep-thinking, silly, sensitive, imaginative, roller coaster of a little boy is heading off to kindergarten.

E loved preschool.  He loved his teachers, the books, the block center, the kids, the playing!  Now he’s headed to all-day kindergarten.  In my heart, I know that he will love it, but of course, I am filled with fears too.  I want him to grow and learn and to feel accepted, loved, and confident every day.  I want him to make friends and happy memories.  I want it to go well.

Did I mention E will be attending my school?  Yes, while my husband drops E off at his classroom for his big, important first day, I will be welcoming a bunch of amazing students who are also excited for their first day.  While my son, this huge part of my heart, will be down the hall, timidly beginning his elementary journey, another part of my heart will be expanding to take in these special fifth graders for the last year of their elementary careers.  I want to create a wonderful fifth grade experience for them.  I will work so hard to be the best teacher I can be for them, just as I know E’s teachers will do for him.

There is so much to take in on such a big first day.  Yet my mind keeps roaming back to that first, first day.  After 19 hours of labor, that warm, fragile baby boy of mine was finally placed onto my chest, his heart near mine.  His first day in the world; my first day as a mom.  I kissed his forehead, thanked God for him, cried, and began a life of dreaming, worrying, and loving.  Tomorrow, my husband and I will send E to his first day of kindergarten.  E will be okay.  I am pretty sure we will be too.  It’s a big first day, but we know there will be many more firsts ahead of us.  We will kiss him on the forehead, thank God for him, cry, and continue to dream, worry, and love.

slice of life

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First day of school sign from Remodelaholic.

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The Joy of Rereading

E Reading

“I’m reading!” my toddler insists.  E will not even look up to listen to my question or comment about the book he’s reading. When he’s into a book, he’s fully engaged.  Though I feel a little sad by this early independence, I also am very happy.

I have been reading to E since he was in the womb.  At 2 1/2, he makes his teacher-mama proud.  He loves books and often wants us to read to him.  He always asks for one more book and then another “one more book” before naps and bedtime.  When things get too quiet in the house and we can’t see E, we often find him in front of the bookshelf or in a corner of the room, surrounded by books, reading them to himself one by one.

E’s bookshelves have gotten a bit overcrowded lately.  I recently tried to hide away some seasonal and simpler books until E’s sister arrives in the fall and we get a new set of shelves for her room.  Tonight, after not seeing them for two weeks, E was asking specifically for some of these hidden books.  Even with newer books and library checkouts at his fingertips, E does not tire of reading the old books.  He simply loves to reread.

This makes me think about the rereading my students do and that I do as an adult. Many students seem to have their “go to” books–trusted books they know will satisfy again and again.  Sure, I want them to stretch their wings and find new titles, new genres.  I can’t deny them, however, that pure joy of a story well told.

I know that satisfaction too.  Like listening to a good song again and again, when I reread I rediscover old friends, uncover new beauty, and gain new understandings and appreciation.  Most times, I do choose to read new books.  So many books, so little time, right?   But what if I do take that break from the new and go back to the old?  What might I gain?  Looking at the joy on my son’s face as he pours over each page of that worn, drool-encrusted book I tried to hide, I think I might gain quite a bit!

My unfinished list of books to reread:

  • Walden, by Henry David Thoreau–Fell in love with it at 16, though I couldn’t fully understand it.  Reread it at 25.  What a different perspective as I reread!  How would it appeal to me at 40?
  • Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott–A childhood favorite–I may make myself wait a bit longer and read this with my children.
  • Any Harry Potter book, by J.K. Rowling–I know what will happen, but I never tire of the characters and the pure imagination behind the series.
  • The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver–This was the first of her novels that I read, and I felt like I had found my author-soul sister.
  • The Shipping News, by E. Annie Proulx–She’s my other favorite author, and this is the first of hers that I read.  I still can picture and feel the stark, chilly setting.
  • Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini–Such a tragic and beautiful story!

What books would be on your list?