y daughter starts kindergarten on Wednesday.
Oddly enough though I’m handling it a lot better than I expected. Don’t get me wrong. Just last week I had one of those Hallmark Card/Allstate Insurance commercial moments watching her at dance class where the little girl I was watching somehow kept switching between the baby I brought home from the hospital (I swear it was yesterday) and the big girl who was performing right in front of me. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get more than a little misty right there in front of all the other moms, kids, instructors and who knows who else. But I think I’m handling this kindergarten thing pretty well. We’ve already sent her to all sorts of Summer camps, art classes, playdates and sleep-overs at her Auntie’s house. We’ve visited the school and we’ve even met the teachers. We’ve been talking about this day for a solid year and in recent weeks, as the big day approached, the “big girl” in her has really shined through. She’s ready and excited. We’re ready and excited. This feels natural.
What I’m not ready for is what happened tonight. A little backdrop to set the stage:
My wife decided to take a practical necessity and turn it into a fun mother-daughter experience. They got packed up into the minivan and drove 45 minutes over the hill to the mega-ultra-obscene-shopping center to go shopping for school clothes. They dropped a load at Gap Kids, and that’s OK. We want her to be excited about starting school, and part of that is sporting the new threads.
Fast forward to dinner, “Guess what Daddy. The day after tomorrow I’m going to kindergarten!” She went on to tell me about her day, which included the day at the mega-ultra-obscene-shopping center. Then her eyes go wide, she gets an excited look on her face and she says “Mommy, can I do a fashion show for Daddy with my new school clothes?” So we finished dinner and baths, after which she said “OK Daddy, I’m gonna model for you now”. She rushed off into her room leaving me standing there on the wet bathroom floor, damp towel in my hand. I knew her grandma was going to want pictures, so once I got her brother organized I got out the iPhone and went into her room to see the “fashion show”. I was not prepared for what happened next.
I walked in there and there she was, new school clothes on and a huge smile on her face that said “I know I look good”. So I snapped a quick picture expecting to Email it off to grandma quickly and move on to the next outfit. “No, wait Daddy. Now like this”. So she puts her hand on her hip, her other hand on the bedpost, and flips her hair to the side waiting for me to take another picture. *snap* “Now like this,” and she crawls up on her bed, sits indian-style, cocks her head to the side and gives her million-dollar smile to the camera… not to me… to the camera. At her mom’s request she quick runs into the other room for a new round of praise and then as quick as a flash she’s on to the next outfit.
The quick-change happens and then she says, “OK, now Daddy”. The iPhone charges up, the vogue-session starts and all of a sudden I realize how – odd – this situation is. My daughter is working the camera like a total pro. I have absolutely no idea where in the world she figured out how to do that. She’s turning and looking coyly over her shoulder. She’s leaning back against the doorframe alternatively smiling, pouting and kissing at the camera. And here I am, enabling it all with my iPhone. We’re totally having fun with our little fashion shoot, and I can tell she’s loving the father-daughter time. But as it progresses I’m less and less comfortable. Thankfully she only had 4 outfits to get through, so the fashion show ended as quickly as it started, but I left the experience feeling like I’d just been through a tornado.
Where in the heck did my little girl learn to work the camera like that? How is this going to manifest as she gets older? And what do I think about all that?
As I sit here writing this blogpost my wife is looking over my shoulder at the pictures. She said to me “Our little baby is slipping away, isn’t she?”
“Day by day” I reply with a sigh.
After another moment my wife says, “She’s really cute”.
“And she knows it” (my trusted response to everyone who makes that observation)
“Good,” she replies. “I want her to feel like she’s pretty”.
I’m choosing not to let this be more than it is. I’m choosing not to obsess about what sort of foreshadowing this may be for the future. I’m keeping my eye on the ball. This week is all about starting kindergarten. Next week is about locking her up in the house and polishing my shotgun.