Finding the familiar in unfamiliar places

D first day of kindergarten

D first day of kindergarten

Perhaps we can all take the lesson from the kindergartner. Get up. Get dressed. Cry if you need to. But keep going. Your life is waiting.

I wrote that last August, when Dillon was transitioning from a preschooler who had spent most of his time at home with me, into a full-day elementary school student. It was a difficult month. My confident, friendly child cried every morning. I talked to his teacher. She told me she was keeping her eye on him and to give it a little more time.

August rolled into September, and Shawn and I took the boys to Universal Studios for a Labor Day getaway. We had a blast on that trip. When Dillon returned to school, he attempted to write about it. He sounded out the words and recorded what he could. His teacher took him to the principal's office, and Dillon read the story to him. The principal gave Dillon a pencil.

Shortly after that, I noticed the shift. "Bye, Mom!" he said with a wave and a brave smile. He blinked a few times, and I could see small tears form behind his glasses. He turned to face the long hallway and kept walking, and as he disappeared around the corner, I knew he was becoming conscious of his own inner strength. Dillon had found the familiar in an unfamiliar place.

I picked up Dillon from school the other day, barking out orders to "hand me your backpack so I can toss it in the trunk" and "hurry get in the car because Cate's in her happy place and that particular window is about to close."

"Mom. Mom. Mom!" Dillon insisted. "I need to get something out of my bag."

"Can it wait until we get home?"

He ignored my question, grabbed the zipper and dug around inside. Dillon pulled out a tiny notebook. "Do you have a pencil?"

"I have a pen. Will that work?" I asked, suddenly intrigued by his enthusiasm.

"This is my journal," he said. An end of the year gift from his teacher.

I noticed how his new notebook sparked something within me. The flame of my own creativity. The light that always feels familiar, even when I'm in an unfamiliar place.

This morning, we'll go to Dillon's classroom and eat snacks and say goodbye to his friends. The colorful walls are bare, because everything is packed. My son is transitioning into first grade. I'm the mom of a first grader. And I hear my words coming back to me. Keep going. Your life is waiting.