Caroline Spangler, Kindergartner

My Generation

A letter to our baby girl, on her first day of kindergarten.

Published on: August 20, 2013

Dear Caroline,

Today is your first day of kindergarten. You were so excited; I was so relieved that you were excited.

It's your nature to ease into a situation (usually in my arms) before throwing yourself into the excitement of something new. And so we've spent time over the past year warming up to kindergarten. Whenever we were in the school building, I asked if you'd like to visit kindergarten and Aunt Coco (because how many kids are so fortunate to have their very own Aunt Coco teaching kindergarten?!). A year ago, you'd say no and I'd coax you into it. By spring, you were asking to visit kindergarten. Begging, even. And so, down the hall we'd go.  

Caroline Spangler, Kindergartener
Caroline Spangler, Kindergartener

Mrs. Sims is your teacher and I know when you read this someday, you'll remember her. Not just because people always remember their kindergarten teacher. But because Mrs. Sims is practically family. You are the fifth Spangler cousin to sit in her kindergarten classroom. She is special and she has worked hard to win you over. You came to her class as an infant, snuggled into me in the front carrier while we helped with Jenna's Halloween party. You played with her chicks when Nathan was in kindergarten. She is a teacher who loves her children, and you are a child who is fiercely loyal to her people. This is a good combination.

It was Mrs. Sims who introduced us to our newest favorite book: "Annabelle Swift, Kindergartner." It's the tale of a little girl who makes her way in kindergarten, with and despite her older sister's best intentions. It's the tale of you, really. You are the baby of this family, but you are making your own way. With glitter and sprinkles. And sunshine.

You are our little artist and while you color a thousand paper rainbows, you color our world, too. You make me notice things I hadn't noticed before, like when you asked which blue marker you should use for the sky. I picked one, nondiscriminatory. Then you looked out the window and observed, "Actually, it's darker blue at the top and lighter blue at the bottom." Well, I'll be darned. It sure is.

When Nathan went to kindergarten, our dear friend Miss Sally told me how I would enjoy this time with just you and me. She was so very wise. We have laughed and played and read and crafted. We've had a running joke for a couple years now: first, I made you promise you'd stay three forever. You bargained and said you'd turn four but that was it. When you turned five, you confessed you'd probably have to keep getting bigger. So it is. I have loved you at every age. Six and 7 and 17 and 27 will all be heartbreakingly wonderful, too.

We read a book the other night, "If I Could Keep You Little." Because if I'm not already dehydrated from all the crying, this one finishes me off. Especially the page with the big yellow school bus. It reads, "If I could keep you little, I'd hold your hand everywhere. But then I'd miss you knowing, 'I can go…you stay there.'"

You were an excited little laser beam this morning, focused on getting to your class, putting your things away, saying hi to two new friends. You hugged me and we said goodbye. I looked back down your hallway three times this morning as I walked away, in case you were looking for me. You were not. And that's OK.

Your world is widening and I can't believe I get to be a part of it.

You'll be home soon and I can't wait to hear all about your day. You're my peanut little.