I figure that I was somewhere over St. Louis when she walked into her kindergarten class for the first time. What're you gonna do. You write about being a parent long enough, you see these posts coming for miles - their first steps, first words, first shit taken on the toilet. This would be my second First Day of Kindergarten post, which axiomatically made the whole thing easier. When I was writing this post in my head on that plane, it occurred to me that I wasn't getting all verklempt over the thought of my little girl starting kindergarten. The Why of this was interesting to me. In many ways, I was more prepared for her to start kindergarten than I was with Lucas - "steeled" is probably the better word. Being on a plane flying from San Diego to New York actually helped - I was passing over thousands of dads who were walking their daughters into those classrooms. I wasn't really alone in this. And yet, something gave me pause.
Perhaps it was because in a sense this wasn't really kindergarten. Her birthday falls on November 1st; she'll be five, and since that's right on the cusp of kindergartenerhood what they do is, they let the young'uns go into Transitional Kindergarten, which sounds like it warrants being in written in bold letters. Transitional Kindergarten is for those kids who aren't quite old enough for regular kindergarten, but are too old to stay in pre-k. It's Post Pre-K. It's a climb down those concrete steps into the shallow end, rather than a leap off of the high dive. Transitional Kindergarten is for those kids who have a modicum of self-possession.
I figured she was ready because of the dollhouse. When she plays alone, she's remarkably composed. "Now, Barbie, you sit here. Here is some tea. Oh, you would like sugar? Well, let me see if we have some. Ah. Yes. Here it is, right next to the flour. You're very welcome, Barbie." There is none of the throwing Barbie into the ceiling fan or running over Barbie with the Barbie Corvette or attempting to get Mick The Giant Monster Dog to chew on Barbie. There is order. Chaos has no place in her life. "Ah. Yes." You learn a lot about a four-year-old when she incorporates those words in those order into her playtime lexicon. The day before I got on that plane, I was in the kitchen making myself a sandwich, watching her play with Barbie in her usual composed, stoic manner. And when she paused, after a five-minute attempt to park the aforementioned Barbie Corvette in the living room of the dollhouse and didn't throw a tantrum, I realized that perhaps she was ready to take that next small but huge step in her life. What gave me pause: when she stood up, calmly brushed back the errant strand of strawberry-blond hair that's constantly falling into her eyes, and in her lilting, sweet voice muttered "stupid fucking dollhouse".