Andi’s pink backpack and the chronicle to Kindergarten

This is the first Monday of the rest of our lives. School started in the Park Hill School District last Wednesday, so we sent Eli to first grade and Andi to kindergarten!

Now, everything  normal and rhythmic has changed. Everything we’d built over the past 10 months, all the adjustments we made when Eli began the daily exodus from our house to school, all Andi and I knew to be true about life together at home with Oakley, changed with one rumble of the big yellow bus.

Last year, I was wrecked on the first morning of school. Emotionally I couldn’t handle the fact that Eli was leaving for most of the day, EVERY DAY.  The fact that Eli was so ready and very excited to go to school helped soothe the shock and pain. For Andi Girl, things seemed a bit tenuous all the way to the end- which was the beginning.

The journey of getting to Andi to kindergarten was marked with confusion, hesitation, glimpses of excitement, absolute refusal to go, and any other adjectives that describe the opposite of “excited to go to kindergarten.”

In April, at her 5th birthday party, Andi received a new backpack for school from Maama. Many people wrote about her going to school in their cards- it was by far the most predominant theme for her 5 year old cards. In the middle of opening presents, she stopped, genuinely concerned and confused, and asked, “Am I going to school right now?” We said no, offered her the present with a princess dress in it and put it out of all of our heads.

In June, Andi went to summer school for three weekse. Her summer school teacher was Mr. Richards, a regular Kindergarten teacher at Tiffany Ridge. She had a fine time but wondered why we weren’t using her cool new, big backpack from her birthday. We explained, “That’s for when you go to kindergarten.” Perplexed, she cocked her head to the side and tentatively asserted, “I am going to Kindergarten.” At this point, Eli stepped in to explain, “This isn’t real kindergarten Andi, it’s summer school.”  We hoped it was all clear after that helpful bit from an older brother who was in “not real” first grade summer school himself.

Once later in the summer, someone asked her if she was going to kindergarten and Andi said, “I already went.” Shoot, the summer school experience was really throwing a wrench in how we were preparing and planning for Andi’s kindergarten career!

By the middle of July, summer school was mostly forgotten and we were in the throws of shared family life at Castaway. Andi was probably asked 20 times if she was excited to go to kindergarten, and 20 times Andi answered in the adverse.

“No, I’d rather stay home with my mom.”

“No, I don’t want to go.”


“No, I want to wait.”

I was a lot nervous. If it was hard for me to let Eli go when he was so ready last year, how was I going to let/make Andi go if she wasn’t interested! We took to preparing the best we could.

-We went school supply shopping and packed up that new backpack.

-Geeg gave Andi new school clothes and shoes.

-Over and over we affirmed the fun, new friends, exciting adventures she would have.

-She received news that Mr. Richards would be her teacher for the school year as well.  This was welcome and helpful news.

-As much as we could, we celebrated her growing up and joining Eli in all she had merely viewed from the outside last year.

Last week, in the waning days of summer, we tried to slow down while still stuffing as much summer fun into every day and night. Monday evening we took all the school supplies to their new classrooms, saw their seats, and chatted with their teachers. Andi lit up in her room. She was happy to see Mr. Richards and took to organizing her supplies with excitement and pride. Eli was quick to pick up on the subtle differences between Kindergarten and first grade and looked forward to having some familiar faces in his class. We went to the Royals v. Marlins game that night in a sweet suite thanks to a Windward Financial invite. Back to School and Windward night at the K

This is Suite!

This is Suite!

I protected Tuesday as a family day. Eli, Andi, Oaks and mommy all day. We played at home, went on a scooter ride/run down the new Maple Woods path and cooked dinner. Eli and Andi were in full sibling play mode- they had enjoyed each other’s company so much as the summer drew to a close. We ate dinner on the deck and talked about how we would live out our family memory verses at school.

“Do not worry. Be thankful and pray.” Phil 4:6-7 

If you’re worried about school, about not knowing what to do in art, what can you do?

Be thankful we are at school and be thankful we have stuff to do school with. -Andi

“If anyone wants to be first, they must take last place and be the servant of everyone else” Mark 9:34.

How do you think you’d have to live out this verse at school?

Like, if someone wanted to use the ball for four square and there is only one, even if I wanted it, I could let them have it.- Eli

“I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength” Phil 4:13

You can do it! You can do hard math, learn to read, sit next to somebody you might not like, listen to your teacher…all things!

Then we memorized a new one, with muscle motions- Joshua 1:9. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. For God is with you.”

After dinner, we drove to Sheridans for last night of summer frozen custard. Because the weather was wonderful and because we loved doing it last year, we left our car behind and walked home. After baths, we read Off to Kindergarten and Just in Case You Ever Wonder affirming and reminding them that no matter what they did or where they went, we loved them, God chose them, and Jesus is with them. Back to school blessings, extra drinks of water, and eventually they went to sleep.

I made pancakes, Drew made orange juice, and they dined on “You are Special Today” plates for breakfast on launch day. Clothes were laid out, lunches got packed, and the new habit of brushing their teeth in the morning (whooops, sorry Mom) was instigated. We woke Oakley up for the goodbye and Drew prayed on the stairs.

Andi going to the big K

Andi going to the big K

The bus came almost too fast. Bravely, excitedly, Andi donned the pink backpack, new clothes, and a sweet smile and headed up the hill with Eli to that big, loud, looming bus. It was quicker than we wanted but she waved goodbye from her bus seat and gave me the best gift she could- a bright smile. Despite the summer of, “Kindergarten? No thank you!” she was somehow ready to go.

Eli off to 1st!

Eli off to 1st!

Off she went,  home I came, Oakley I nursed. , okay I felt. I was prepared and knew what to expect. I was excited for Andi and know she will enjoy coloring, writing, being with friends, and learning new things. I was sad and teary a bit just because now everything is changed. We get her less. She loves playing with Oakley and won’t be around all day to be with him. She was my shopping pal and liked running errands with me.

The days are different now.  Quiet, less chaotic. The house stays a little more picked up and I feel more able to get some work and cleaning done. Still, I’m not enjoying the lack of mess as much as I thought; I’m very thankful for the creative play my kids engage in with each other around our house.


Andi girl gives a smile and a wave from way up there on the bus!

When they got off the bus last Wednesday, I couldn’t wait to hear all about it. They were gracious to sit and snack and share a little bit. Andi really enjoyed it. She loved getting to go to specials and the library. Her worksheets were colored with detail and precision and she proudly pulled them out of the backpack. Her voice was light and she piped up to affirm and add to whatever Eli shared about school- there were two experts now- she could add to the conversation. Eli was “girl locked!” (they sit boy/girl/boy/girl) in his seat in the classroom and said, “Time just flew!” He was pretty sure second recess was too short and hoped they would figure it out by day two.

When she woke up Thursday, I wondered how Andi would feel about going back to Kindergarten again. She sleepily smiled and told me she did really want to go again. She was ready.

This weekend, when the babysitter asked if she had started school, Andi said, “Yes. I go to kindergarten. I’m just taking a little break right now.” 

Welcome to a weekend Andi…a little break you’ll get throughout your school career. Indeed, Babe, you deserve time to rest, re-create yourself, connect to us, your family once again, and play all day.

You can do it Andi girl. Mr. Richards and your friends to be are lucky to have you. Oakley and I miss you but are glad you’re getting to color every day and will learn to read. Daddy and I are proud of you and can’t wait to watch you grow up. You are prized and precious, capable and curious, brave and bold.

Okay, the tears I didn’t cry last week are coming now. I think I hear Oakley waking up from his nap….

While the big kids are away, the baby will play...with all their their dismay!

While the big kids are away, the baby will play…with all their stuff…to their dismay!

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