A letter to parents on the night before kindergarten

September 4, 2017

A small pink anemone blossom partially bloomed
Tonight, I am thinking about all the parents whose children begin kindergarten tomorrow. I remember how I felt this night a year ago: grief-stricken, mostly. Kindergarten marked a divide in our family timeline, ending our years of most togetherness, and beginning — in a way I had so little control over — our handing of our child to the world.

I tucked a love note in one pocket of her backpack and a lavender-stuffed heart-shaped pillow I’d sewn in another.

I remember the bag was so big.

She was so little.

At that first drop-off, I was the one to cry, but it was at the next that our daughter took her turn. When I finally had to pry myself away, a classmate popped up and wrapped her arms around E. She didn’t stop crying then, but she was held while she did.

And in that, I understood something new; yes, we were giving our child over to the world, but also, the world would give itself to our child.

My beloved father was dying those first weeks of kindergarten, and I would have to leave E in a hurry to get to the hospital each day. No one knew my rush, or why I looked so stricken but, seeing E’s upset, other parents doing their own drop-offs would offer to guide her to an activity with their child. Other students would invite her to rake the sandbox. I will love her teacher forever because on harder days, she would take E’s hand and not let go until E was ready. And on the hardest, she kept our daughter in her lap.

The school’s office manager bandaged E’s scraped knees. Parent volunteers picked her up when she fell on class hikes. Friends let her double on the schoolyard bikes when she couldn’t at first reach the pedals. Always, when she cried, someone went to her. Kindergarten drew a circle of care around our daughter, bigger than we could have done on our own.

It wasn’t always easy, but what the first year of kindergarten re-taught me is that the world is, most of all, a loving place. And I know this – tomorrow, as you say those hard goodbyes, you will be surrounded by the people who, over the coming months, will remind you how loving the world is too.


square of carrieCarrie Klassen writes about (and sometimes photographs) things she finds beautiful. She ghost-writes for thoughtful people with something important to say at PinkElephantCreative.com, teaches writing for small business at PinkElephantAcademy.com, and she shares her own words at CarrieKlassen.com. Carrie is currently working on a series of personal essays.


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