“Whenever you feel lonely and need a little loving from home, just press your hand to your chest and think, ‘Mommy loves you.'”
~Audrey Penn, The Kissing Hand
The night before school started, I read The Kissing Hand to Soren and Elsa. They were both extremely anxious, so we spent the evening cuddling, reading and occasionally crying while going over every possible scenario that would trip them up on their first day. Granted, Parker and I had no idea what to expect, but we did our best to mitigate any fears and help them feel prepared.
The morning started out rough. I thought we were going to have to drag Elsa to school, but as the morning progressed, some of her anxiety dissipated and she was content enough to get out of the house and into the van.
Sophie was excited and we dropped her off as she happily walked to the school yard, meeting up with friends. Have I mentioned how glad I am she started public school last year?
We drove off, formulating the best route to the elementary school, but realized it’s going to take some practice finding a parking spot. There isn’t a car drop off area and I am already realizing how miserable this is going to be come winter.
Both kids were sniffling as we entered the school grounds and the local television station decided to conduct an interview. A heartbreaking story of summer gone…
BREAKING NEWS: American kids hate the first day of school.
The kids met up with their teachers and classmates on the playground. We said our goodbyes to Elsa and she nervously, yet willingly managed to walk into school with her class. Primary parents were encouraged to walk their children into the classroom, so we escorted Soren to his room. He was a tad nervous, but started working on his terrifying self portrait.
All of Soren’s fears disappeared once he saw all the cool toys, art supplies and potential new friends. He even told me, “Whew, when you leave I have a lot of work to do.” After a few minutes, we left, leaving Soren smiling at his desk, ready to learn “Spanish” as he told us.
Parker took the day off from work so we decided to drive home, get situated and go for a walk, back to school. What better way to spend your first, almost kid free day, than to creep on our children?
It’s an 18 minute walk and we arrived during recess time. We hid under a tree and were able to see Soren lining up with his class, but no sign of Elsa. We made sure not to linger too long, in fear the recess monitors might think we were planning a kidnapping. Eventually, we decided to enjoy our day of freedom and walked further into town for lunch.
This may be Ellinor’s first solo meal out with mom and dad.
The rest of the afternoon we relaxed, conducted Fantasy Football drafts (Parker) and anxiously awaited the time when we could get the kids. The weather was wonderful, so we opted to walk to school and brought along the scooters.
The bell rang and Soren was all smiles when he came out, but Elsa looked overwhelmed. I knew she needed a quiet moment, so I hugged her and let her breath. After a few minutes she finally started to talk and said she would rank her day a 7 our of 10. She noted she didn’t make any friends or play with anyone at recess, but she liked her teacher and overall it was a good day.
At this point, Soren was talking nonstop. He doesn’t remember if his teacher was speaking French, but if she did, he didn’t understand. He proudly proclaimed he used the bathroom twice and that “Colouring this butterfly thing was the most boring thing I have ever done.” He said his teacher read The Kissing Hand and couldn’t believe she had the same book as us!
Elsa started to open up on our walk and she said she cried a little at first recess. Soren piped in, “Mom, I saw Elsa crying so I went over and played with her.” Elsa said, “I cried because Soren looked so cute and he is my best friend.” She also noted that when Soren was playing with the rocks under the play structure, he would stop every now and then and hold his palm to his cheek, just like in The Kissing Hand.
We ventured to Sophie’s school and managed to pick her up just in time. She had an awesome first day, was excited about her teachers and happily spent lunchtime at Starbucks with friends.
Our walk home was great, but Soren let us know multiple times he was “so sweaty” and requested we drive next time. Regardless, it was nice to have that time together as a family, wrapping up the afternoon and discussing our big day. Again, the power of the family walk!
After the ceremonial unpacking of backpacks, signing forms, looking at planners and emptying lunches, we all flopped down on the couch and went into major chill mode. We spent a lazy evening at home, watching Big Brother and happily fell asleep by 10 pm.
This morning, day two, Soren and Sophie were enthusiastically ready to get back to school, but Elsa needed some time. Soren said, “Okay Elsa…I am going to find you today at recess and play with you so you aren’t sad, got it?” ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Drop off went fine (no major emotional breakdowns) and now I’m home with Ellinor in a quiet house, reflecting and decompressing emotionally over the past few days while Ellinor plays with boxes and play dough containers.
Parker and I know it’s a process with Elsa and we are going to be in the emotional trenches with her for a good chunk of time until she feels ready to let go. It’s familiar territory, but I know it will only get better for her.
I will admit, there has been difficult moments with our move and probably more to come, but in times like this I realize our kids are navigating “newness” fairly well…and it’s comforting to know they have a sibling that’s going to help and nudge them on their way.