Special days and simple rites of passage: starting kindergarten

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Earlier this month, my son started at a Steiner kindergarten; three mornings each week. Dylan hadn’t experienced nursery or daycare before  – he and I have really spent very little time apart since he was conceived. So it was as much my First Day at Kindergarten and I wanted to make this a special day. A special day for him  and for us as a family to acknowledge the milestone it is in our family life. I also didn’t want to make it too huge a thing, or heap a load of pressure, expectation and too much spotlight onto Dylan.

A few weeks before he started, we began to talk often about what going to Kindergarten would be like. I introduced a new game to him: the Going To Kindergarten Game, where we essentially role-played a kindergarten morning. We’d visited Kindy by this point and knew the routine and typical activities of a usual morning there. I included in the game along with repeated reassurance on how I’d pick him up at lunchtime. Dylan was given a lunch bag over Yuletide and I’d made him a drawstring bag to carry his things in. (below).IMG_2787

I also asked members of our close family for a brief message wishing him well that I could put together into a little booklet for him (pictured top – the gorgeous painting of the little girl is by Marjan Van Zeyl). We read him the messages over breakfast on his first day, hoping to give him the feeling that the people closest to him were each “present” in this way, and thinking of him. Dylan’s uncle had supplied a TS Elliot quote, Rob and I a poem (below) and his grandparents had contributed well-wishing messages – Grandpa had drawn lovely pictures on his and Granny’s, which brought a smile to Dylan’s face immediately!

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Luckily my husband and I were both able to take and collect him together on his first day. The kindergarten is a little way from where we live so I stayed around the area “in case they needed to phone at all”.  In reality, from the moment that he ran off with barely a wave goodbye, we knew he’d be fine and that this move was for me more than him! I had a walk (and a bit of a weep. And a phonecall to my own mum; I’m always grateful to connect with my own mother in these mothering milestones of my own!) I spent the rest of the morning in a cafe with a huge hot drink and slice of cake to fuel writing a poem and some journalling. It felt so useful to have this time for self-reflection, nurture and creative expression.

When we collected Dylan, his face was covered in smiles and mud from outdoor play. He had lots that he was eager to tell us – and of course we were eager and excited to listen! I’d brought one of his favourite things for him to eat for lunch and had some cookies waiting at home for later. That makes me sound like a much, much more movie-perfect mum than I even come close to; I emphasise that this was just for his first day! And whilst every morning at kindergarten certainly isn’t followed by cookies, it is followed by some time together during the afternoon to reconnect over a story, or playdough, or paints, or in the garden. We’re still settling into our new rhythm, still getting used to all it asks from us, still finding creative ways to address the challenges it brings. It’s an adjustment. One season in my life changes to another and it feels good to honour it. ♥

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