Graduation Day

It’s weird being on the top of the hill after staring at the summit for so, so long. No, I’m not out in the wilderness writing this post. I’m sitting in my office and I’m pretty much unable to move through the rest of my day until I write about this. This is kindergarten graduation day.

I’m the very first person to say the glitter and glam surrounding kindergarten graduation is too much. But today, though, throw some confetti at my daughter and I’ll be super pleased to see it fall through her fine brown tresses.

It took Annie two years to finish kindergarten. If Annie isn’t your child, maybe it doesn’t seem to be a big deal. But I’m here to tell you, for me at least, it was a huge thing to hold my kid back a grade. This same day last year—when her original classmates performed a play and heard their names called and received that piece of paper—well, this same day sucked rocks. Maybe that’s not poetic, but it’s true.

Crazily enough, I sat through the dry run of the play last spring even though I didn’t want to (long story), and the tears streamed down my face even though I’d already cried way too many tears during Annie’s first kindergarten season. It felt like torture, watching my Annie and knowing that she was the one puzzle piece that didn’t fit in her class. She was tall enough, but she couldn’t sing her ABC’s. She was nice enough, but she didn’t fit within that group’s social circle.

Perhaps you think I’m being dramatic. Yup, I’m good at that. But still. And yet. How can I not be a jumble of emotions as I think about Miss Annie finally graduating and moving on to first grade?

I’m so proud of my girl. She has worked hard: she has six to ten tutoring sessions every week. She went from knowing the letters x and o in the fall of 2010 to actually singing her ABC’s, knowing most letters’ sounds on most days, and sounding out three letter words with help in the spring of 2012. I don’t think one bit of it has been easy for her.

But still. And yet. She used to think reading was not for her. She used to think she couldn’t do the same things other kids her age could. Some days, reading still isn’t for her. But other days, she will chant “I’m a reader” or read a sentence for me with more ease than I thought possible. More importantly, she went from being really unhappy and shut down at school to being present and happy. She has friends: more than a handful of best friends. She fits in.

Last year a mom that I only see occasionally did me a huge favor every time I talked about my Annie with her. She told me, “Annie’s going to be fine. Nancy, she’s going to be fine. Nancy, look at me. She’s going to be fine. Annie is going to be fine.”

She schooled me. She made me look at her every time, and didn’t stop repeating the phrase until I took the words in just a tiny bit. I’ve taken her words in a tiny bit. Some moments I can take them in all the way. On good days, I can see Annie will blossom any way she knows how and she will become her best self with little or no help from us. This is one of those days. As Chris says, I’m a lucky lady. I’ve watched this girl, this wonder of a girl, succeed in her own way and on her own time schedule. Congratulations Annie. And I’m sorry in advance because I’m going to cry my eyes out at graduation.

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