Please know that when Reagan starts preschool, I will bawl like a baby. The same will apply to her first day of kindergarten. I know this is true because of this weekend.
First, we go to the annual Easter Egg "Hunt" at Hubby's workplace. Its more of a candy-free-for-all. Which is fine with Reagan, really. We get there a bit early (read 10 minutes, not the 45 minutes some crazy people waited) and stood at the rope to the 3-year old section. Reagan and I conversed about the candy and toys sprawled out on the floor in front of us. She chatted about which ones she would like to have and we talked about the various colors of the Easter eggs. I took a few little pictures. It was a calm, relaxed time. And then they blew the whistle. Basically, the whistle was enough to freak her out. But it was compounded by the parents screaming at their kids to "GO!" and "Get a GOLD egg!" and, well, it was an intense burst of energy into a small candy-filled space. Reagan picked up one piece of candy and then looked up at me as if to say, "Mom! This is NUTS!" She was scared. And I wanted to scoop her up. I didn't. I did the "right" thing and encouraged her to keep going. She eventually warmed up to the chaos and was a PRO at picking up multiple pieces of sugary goodness in one hand. But the pictures, well, I'll put them up later today and you will see the look of SERIOUSNESS that consumed her tiny person. Any Mom who nearly cries at an Easter Egg Hunt is DOOMED.
So then enter in Palm Sunday at church. We've been talking for WEEKS about how Reagan will get to sing with the kids at church! This was her first singing in the front experience. I had to deliver her to her Sunday school room before church started. I knelt down and gave her a hug and told her to have fun singing! She turned to me, grabbed my arm and said, "You come with me!" Oh man. Hello stinging sensation behind my eyes. I assured her she would be okay and that I would be watching her the whole time. The service starts and in come all the kids. Way at the back of the palm-branch procession is my little girl. She isn't waving her palm branch though. She's borderline panicky, searching the pews beside her for me. People, I nearly sobbed. Finally, about halfway up the aisle she starts waving her palm branch. Then the little ones sing and I resisted the urge of stand on the bench to see her. It was hard. The tears were still welling in my eyes. She found our seat when she was all done. I gave her a big hug and told her she did a great job - because honestly, I didn't care if she sang or not. I was just proud of her for having more composure than I did. Any Mom who nearly cries at her own kid singing amidst the 60+ kids is doomed.
Minutes later it is time for the Children's Message. Up until that morning I have been escorting Reagan to the front and sitting nearby - just to make sure she sits well and doesn't help herself to a microphone and start singing "How He Loves Us". It could happen. Sunday I let her go up by herself and stayed where I was sitting. But I didn't warn her so she gets to the front and turns around to figure out where I am. And she can't see me. I can see her standing there looking at the crowd trying to find me. A few times I think she sees me. But she never sits down. She stands the whole time. And I feel bad for not warning her a little more...or at all. Then they get bubbles at the end but they run out and my timid little girl is at the end of the line for bubbles. I'm just praying she doesn't burst into tears. She loves her some bubbles. But somehow she got some. I praise God for that. Any Mom who gets this emotional over a children's message is doomed.
She doesn't start preschool this coming year, and I have never ever been more thankful for that extra time with her than I am this weekend. Even so, I'll still be a mess on her first day of school. Absence may make the heart grow fonder - but presence is even more powerful for me.