The sound of a school bell clanging in the morning means many things to different people. For a teacher, it is the start of the teaching day. For a child, it is the start of a learning day. For a parent it is the start of a chaotic workday – whether that work be inside or outside of the home.
This September the shrill of the school bell symbolized a new beginning for my son. Together we stood, hand in hand, outside the kindergarten entrance. His brand new bright red backpack hung from his shoulders. His blue eyes were wide as he anxiously took in the schoolyard scene: older boys tossing balls against the wall, girls with pigtails and tights twirling colourful skipping ropes. His little hand gripped mine, ever so tightly. To be truthful, maybe it was me who was doing the gripping.
I knew that in an instant, when he walked single-file through those heavy double doors, a chapter in our lives had come to an end. No longer was I the new mother, unsure and without confidence. No longer was he the little boy who needed to be rocked to sleep in my arms.
My son released his grip on my hand and I leaned down to kiss him goodbye. I squeezed him and choked back my tears. I whispered in his ear how much I loved him. We clung to each other for a moment, each of us gathering the strength to pull away. Just as he was about to join his new classmates, he held out his small hand, palm facing up. I knew what he wanted.
Weeks before the start of kindergarten we read The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. The story is about a little raccoon was nervous to start the first day of school. His mother kisses the palm of his hand so whenever he is feeling lonely or scared, he can place the palm on his cheek and feel the love of his mother.
I took my son’s hand and kissed it and then extended my palm towards him. He walked towards the line-up with his hand firmly pressed against his cheek and held it there until he disappeared into the hallways of the school.
I turned and walked away, my hand against my cheek.
This has become our morning ritual and I am very thankful to have come across this book that helped to make the transition to kindergarten a bit easier for both of us. Is there a book or story that you used with your children to get through a tough time or to teach an insightful lesson?