There are times when we’re reminded, as parents, that we’re working our way out of a job, and the first day of school is one of them. Yesterday, we had an orientation at the Kid’s school, and today was the first day of class. As Kid is a fifth grader, today didn’t involve me much, but I got to observe her yesterday, and I was really proud of what I saw.

There’s ongoing construction at the Kid’s school, but the first phase is ready to use so the first thing we had to do was to check out the new spaces. After a year of watching the construction progress, it was exciting (for me, too) to actually stand in the new parts of the building, figuring out what used to be where and trying to guess what impact the new spaces would have on the old spaces, on the flow of life at the school, and on various activities we’ve done for years in the old spaces. 

When we finally got to the Kid’s classroom (an old space) we found a new student there, an off-beat girl who seems like a potential new friend. Kid immediately teamed up with her and after spending a few minutes catching up with the teachers, they were off, checking out their lockers, exploring the new spaces (again) and roaming around with friends they met along the way. Kid was checking in with us (the way you do with the people you came with) and also letting us know when she wanted to go to a different part of the school (because we require her to do that) but she was very clearly in her own space and interested in re-affirming her place there. On our way to find her, we ran into her on her way back, showing a family that had newly arrived how to get to the new gym. “Oh, hi!” She said. “I was telling them how to get to the new gym, but I just kept saying, ‘Go there and keep going,’ and it didn’t make sense, so I’m taking them there instead.”

I love that my Kid can converse respectfully with adults, with her peers, and with younger children. I love that she reaches out to make the new kid feel comfortable, and delights in the fact that their lockers are next to each other’s. I love that she feels completely comfortable in her school, and that she has a sense of responsibility around helping new people find their way in the building. I love her enthusiasm for the new addition, down to the plant wall and the cool, new water fountain. And I love that she was excited to get back to school.

But I miss my little girl. I miss feeding her eleven pancakes in her high chair. I miss exploring playground equipment, finding the places she could do on her own and the places where she needed my help. I miss watching her notice things for the first time. I miss her climbing into my arms to feel safe in a new environment. I miss being the expert on everything, too. 

I can’t wait to see what comes next.