Fort Worth, Texas,
15:07 PM

One green smiley face at a time

The Doc Smitty's little boy and his first week of kindergarten

One panda sticker and four green smiley faces. Pretty much sums up my son’s first week at kindergarten. I’m not sure why his teacher used a panda sticker the first day, maybe it’s because he was actually a bear to deal with, but I’m refusing to believe that’s the case. His response to mommy’s enthusiastic questioning about his first day was summed up with a profound, “I’ll explain later.”

Quick update: Dropping him off the first day went pretty much as expected. He was happy to go in, excited even. No tears were shed from either him or me (Mrs. Doc Smitty might’ve gotten a “little” misty-eyed.).

So, why am I getting emotional as I reflect back on his first week of school?

He’s still our little boy, but something is different. He still cried at breakfast yesterday because his 3 year-old little brother wouldn’t share his “talking Diesel 10” toy with him. He still ran through the house to give me and mommy kisses every time the Aggies scored a touchdown last night (which was a lot - whoop!).

But, I noticed this morning as he stood by his mommy to say goodbye; he instantly seemed inches taller, his vocabulary grown up, his mannerisms more mature.

How did that happen in just five days?

I think what hit me the hardest today is that I no longer know about what he does with his days, at least not in the way I could before. Just last week, I could get home from work and get a full run down from his mommy of everything funny he said and everything else he did. Now, those quirky puns and silly rhymes are shared with his classmates and his teacher who aren’t able to file them away to share with his dad. I don’t know what he did at recess except that he reports, “Of course, I played with the girls.” And I’m not even sure who (or even what) that means.

Today, it feels heavy, as if those 5 days will quickly turn into 13 years before I know it. Then I’ll have to deal with the fact that there will be days where I have no idea what he is up to. I may have to rely on infrequent phone calls and even less frequent visits to get a picture of what his life is like.

For now, I’ll cling to every word I can get out of him about his day.

For now, I’ll try to cherish every moment I still have with him.

For now, I will learn to trust those green smiley faces (and count the days to our first teacher conference).

About the author

Justin Smith, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville . He attended University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and did his pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine. He joins Cook Children's after practicing in his hometown of Abilene for four years. He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his 3 young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.

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Jane Burroughs
Tender memories! Thanks for sharing! Next time you might give the "warning" about a Kleenex alert! Your the best long term friend in the "big country".