Back to School!

A photo of Gabriel's first day of kindergarten, 2010
Gabriel's first day of kindergarten in Colorado, August 2010

I’ve never been one of those moms who cried at milestones. I’ve looked forward to the first solid food, the first steps, the first loose tooth, and even the first day of school. It’s hard not to be excited when your kids are absolutely desperate to escape you and each otherover the moon at the thought of seeing their friends after nearly two months of traveling.

But something’s just a bit different this year. Not only are we 6,000 miles away from where this picture was taken on Gabriel’s first day of kindergarten in Colorado last year, but this year, Lily starts school too. That’s right. As of 8:45 this morning, I’m sort of an empty-nester. The International School doesn’t have a half day option for kindergarten, so Lily will be joining Gabriel at school five full days per week. Besides catching up on the 800 blog posts I’ve been meaning to write about our amazing summer, I’m a bit at loose ends. Maybe it’s because the kids have been with me pretty much around the clock since early June. Maybe it’s because it seems impossible to me that my baby is actually a five year old who managed to lose her first tooth and teach herself to read this summer. And did I mention that’s she’s grown?

A photo of Lily reading at kindergarten orientation
Lily checking out her kindergarten's book nook....

Here she is at Kindergarten orientation, just as calm and grown-up as can be. You can read my thoughts on Lily turning five to learn more about what a challenging kid she can sometimes be, but suffice it to say Matt & I are both shocked AND thrilled that Lily has grown up to be such a resilient, adaptable little girl. It’s not like we haven’t thrown a lot at her with this move to Finland from different foods to learning the ropes of public transportation to jumping right into a Finnish preschool, as Gabriel enjoyed the relative familiarity of International School.

Gabriel, as always, amazes me with bursts of maturity that give me a glimpse of the big boy struggling to emerge. Today, as I walked them in to school, he assured me that I could just drop them off at the curb and that he’d walk his sister to her class so she didn’t get lost. My heart melted just a little bit, but Lily also squeezed my hand, her unspoken request that I stay with her for just a few minutes before sending her off to her first day of school.

And that’s the fine balance of parenting, isn’t it: Knowing when to let go and also recognizing when hanging on for just a few more minutes will give them the little boost they need to make it the rest of the way on their own.

A photo of Gabriel & Lily on their first day of school 2011 in Finland
Gabriel & Lily about to head to their first day of school, 2011

So I’ll totally get back to writing those blog posts and working on the novel and all those Big Important Things I always seem to worry about. But not today. Today, I’m going to hang out, enjoy the peace and quiet, and reflect a bit on the last seven years (seven years!) of my parenting journey. Truth be told, I think I’m the one who hit the milestone today…

The kids (and mama) enjoying the beach after their first half day of school

3 thoughts on “Back to School!

  1. The kids loved getting a message from their favorite Miss Laurie! We were just talking about Peaches the other day and remembering what a good time they had at your house this summer!

  2. Hi Gabriel and Lily – Your Grandma shared your mom’s blog with me this morning and I wanted to tell you how spiffy you two looked for the first day of school. I hope you both have a fun school year. Gabriel – I also wanted to thank you for the picture of my house, it is on my bulletin board. I love it – great job. I hope you received the Euros you left here that we were using to play robber. Lily – my girls have made more clothes for the Barbie dolls, you would like them. Hugs to you both. Miss Laurie

  3. Brings tears to my eyes and a smile on my face. What a wonderful mom you are 🙂 I hope you have enjoyed your day and I know the kids love all the adventures they live day to day.

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