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Monday, August 20, 2007
(9:53 AM) | Stephen:
Monday, August 20th, 2007

Today dawned with clouds the color of old iron, the remains of last night's rain still scattered on the grass and trees. It's one of those Kansas City days when you can sweat more at 75 degrees than the desert dwellers do at 110.

We all woke up early this morning, earlier even than we had to, nervous anticipation of this day blocking our attempts to snuggle back down into the covers and sleep a little longer. Today is the first day of Kindergarten.

My daughter can of course now completely choose her own clothes - sometimes matching them! - brush her own teeth, wash her own face and brush her hair, though for this day she did want her mom's help putting in some clips. When breakfast was done and we were all scrubbed and dressed, she marched out the front door, backpack on, pink shirt and skirt, and sat herself in her booster seat. Somehow this little one managed to look so grown up even with all these accoutrements of childhood.

We walked in the doors of the school for the third time, the tang of the paper sharper than ever, the high notes of disinfectant a little louder with the bass of the school lunches already being prepared as the foundation for the white-noise melody of children's voices, over which float the spoken-word descants of the teachers and parents.

It is into this babble, this chaos, this world of study and play that I now place my daughter. And I know that this is the point at which all my talk about parenthood being merely the process by which we teach our children to be free of us becomes terribly real. I tell myself that she hasn't had enough time, that 5 is just too young for her to start this process, but the truth is that I haven't had enough time, that I'm afraid of the challenges, I'm worried about being good enough in the years ahead.

For my daughter, this is just about today, and the next little while. She knows that after Kindergarten comes 1st Grade, but she doesn't really give that thought any real existence. It's in the far-off, like Christmas or even next weekend. She'll just play and make friends and learn because that's what she does without thought or effort.

And I, I will do all that is possible to keep her on that path. And I will try to not dwell upon the day, too fast in coming, when my son walks in the same classroom for his first day.

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