Today in the stairwell of our apartment building, our upstairs neighbors asked our six-year-old daughter if she’s feeling excited about going into first grade next week. She responded, “Yes, I am, but my father is even more excited.” Now, subtlety was never my strong suit, but, to be fair, my wife is also very excited. She just happens to be the more reserved parent.
We’ve purchased all of the text books our daughter will need, her school t-shirts, her school supplies, her new backpack, etc., etc… And everything has been feeling very real to us. After three years of preschool-kindergarten, entering an actual school building feels like a different universe, and our school happens to be a very nice one. It was constructed some twelve years ago, and it serves 13 grades, including kindergarten, with 60 students per grade. Our daughter’s first grade classroom even has its own little courtyard with playground equipment, just outside, which it shares with one of the kindergarten classes.
Beyond this, our first grade teacher seems lovely, simply lovely; and her oldest daughter is also going into first grade next year… so she relates to our excitement. Also, as a minor bonus for me, she happens to speak English fluently because her parents immigrated to Israel from the USA and spoke English with their children. I don’t need to speak English to get my point across, per se, but it’s very comfortable to know that I can fall back upon it if I’m searching for a word in Hebrew.
Even the principal seems lovely; as she spoke to the parents and children, she was brimming with earnestness and empathy, clearly proud of her teaching staff and passionately dedicated to every student. Her welcome to us reminded me of what our daughter’s preschool teacher (whose four children also happen to attend this school) once said to us: the school administration knows every single student personally.
At the little get-together event this week, the children were given Mickey Mouse work mats with their names to color in, which our teacher will laminate for their use throughout the year. The parents were given paper hearts to write blessings on, to be glued to the back of the work mats before lamination.
I probably went overboard, given what I saw the other parents doing, but I used markers of multiple colors, alternating colors by word, and drew little hearts around them. My daughter, taking her cue from me, took the drawing and coloring very seriously, so much so that we ended up taking the work mat home to complete. She still hasn’t finished the project, but she’s been making progress on it.
To be honest, I felt somewhat self-conscious as I was turning the parents’ blessing into a child’s art project, but I decided to own it – mushy is the way I am, and it makes me happy to imagine our daughter having our heart-blessing all this year, as a reminder of our love and dedication to her while she’s busy during her school days.