Abby started kindergarten this week.
I thought since she was already going to preschool every day, kindergarten wouldn’t be a big deal.
At her preschool, the kids are free to play pretty much what they want all day. Every feeling is validated by the teachers. The kids are empowered and encouraged to resolve conflicts on their own. Not a whole lot of structure and arbitrary rules.
It’s ALL structure and arbitrary rules.
How else could one adult possibly keep a roomful of 20 five-year-olds from going rogue and kicking off their very own Occupy Monkey Bars movement?
How the First Day Went
When we got home after the first day of kindergarten, Abby and I settled into the couch next to each other.
I looked over at her – my thoughtful, logical, helpful, whipsmart 5-year-old girl. She looked so TIRED.
“C’mere,” I said, and I pulled her onto my lap. I realized I haven’t had that girl on my lap since well before Bailey was born, when I had no lap to speak of. My throat felt a little tight.
“Was it hard today?” I asked.
She looked up at me with those big blue eyes. I had a flash of her as a baby, those eyes taking everything in, always.
“A lot to learn?” I asked.
She nodded and sat up straight. “Yeah, like you have to sit down in the swing. You just have to sit down. You can’t even do anything else. Like you can’t swing on your stomach. It doesn’t make sense!”
She couldn’t wrap her head around the idea that a rule like this would exist in the world.
So we talked about how some kids just act crazy and the teachers need to make rules to keep the crazy in check. And everyone has to follow the same rules.
She got it, I think.
What I Didn’t Expect
Later that night, while Abby was in the bath, I sat on the floor with our 3-month-old waiting for her to roll over – her latest new trick.
She wasn’t in the mood. She stared up at me.
Big blue eyes, just like her sister.
I scooped up the baby and ran to the bathtub.
Abby looked up. “What?”
“I just wanted to see you,” I said. “Make sure you were okay.”
She stared at me for a second then went back to her bathtub toys. From what I gathered, the purple octopus had just invited the orange crab to a princess tea party.
I stood there, holding Bailey. Was Abby really that little once? I mean, I know she was.
But how is it possible that a tiny thing who couldn’t even ROLL OVER went and grew up into a 5-year-old who has her own feelings and thoughts and opinions? Like A LOT of opinions.
How does that happen?
I Bet You’ve Heard This Before
Everyone says “Enjoy it now, they grow up so fast!”
And you just smile and nod and think to yourself “Shut your damn face.” Because THEY are getting 8 hours of sleep a night, and THEY don’t have to wipe anyone’s butt 10 times a day, and THEY didn’t just reach up to tuck their hair behind their ear and find a gob of dried, crusty mashed sweet potato.
But the contrast of having a newborn at the same time that another child is starting kindergarten finally brought that stupid cliche home for me.
I have this newfound urgency to capture every moment of the girls’ childhood. How Bailey sucks her toes, that Abby grew a full inch this August, how when her baby sister is fussing Abby sings these made-up songs to calm her down that make absolutely zero sense and they’re totally off-key but 100% beautiful.
So when I saw this super cute Q&A for the first day of school, I was sold.
The idea is you interview your kids every year on the first day of school. Then after a few years, you have a collection of these amazing snapshots to look back on.
The only problem? This lady who draws crappy pictures said I should ask different questions.
Questions like “When do you feel the most loved?” and “What are you afraid of?” and “What is the meaning of life?”
Use This Free Printable to Interview Your Kids
To download a free printable of these Q&A sheets, click the links below the photo. Don’t worry if your kid is in seventh grade and you haven’t done this ever before. It’s never too late to start. (Note: Starting with seventh grade, I changed the colors and formatting to make the sheets look a teensy bit more grown-up compared to the other sheets.)
Download the free first day of school printables here:
Back to the Juicy Stuff
Here are my favorite answers from Abby on the first day of kindergarten.
Even if you don’t fill out the sheets, try asking your kids one or two of the questions and come back to share the best answers!
- My favorite color: Pink and red and rainbow
- My favorite book: Pippi Longstocking
- My favorite thing about myself: My whole body
- When do you feel the most loved? When my family says sweet things about me, like when Mommy says “Bailey, you have an awesome big sister”
- What are you afraid of? The darkness
- What makes you mad? When someone says I broke something
- If you had one wish, what would you wish for? Being a princess
- What is the meaning of life? To eat. Because you have to eat.
Ask your kid a couple of these questions, then come share their answers in a comment below!
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