And so it begins. The end of the start of the rest of my children’s childhood.
By which I mean our youngest daughter graduated from nursery school / kindergarten.
Thinking back, we’ve been coming to our local nursery school every weekday (and many weekends) since April 2011. I still remember how thrilled and relieved we were to get the acceptance notice in the mail for our oldest, having been rejected the previous year.
And how doubly relieved we were two years later, to get another notice that our youngest had been accepted into the same school.
All the diapers carefully prepared. The futon (covers, pillows, and all). The change of clothing back. Name tags. 連絡帳 (renraku-cho, message book for the teachers). Two hand towels each day. Endless amounts of drawing pads, crayons, cray-pas, scotch tape.
Rice each morning. Or bread.
On a warm March Saturday, dozens of older siblings, parents, and grandparents gathered for the “graduation ceremony.” Of course, nursery school being outside the official education system, its not really a graduation per se. But the school holds one anyway, complete with handmade graduation certificates for the kids. Songs are sung, sandwiches eaten, dances danced. This year the PTA (mainly parents, including us) put together a video/photo slideshow of each teacher the kids had each year for the previous six years, combined with a “then” and “now” photo. The kids had a great time guessing who their classmates were. They squealed with delight when their teachers’ baby photos also appeared (along with the nursery school Principal, whose photo was immdiately guessed as it was the only one in black and white).
At the end, they all had to say goodbye.
So they did. One by one, in pairs, threes or however many were in each group, they stood up and announced the name of their elementary school.
“Goodbye, everyone. We had a good time at nursery school, but soon we will be 1st grade students. Goodbye!”
The Principal cried. So did many of the teachers and parents (not me, of course not. Sniffle.)
Then, somewhat anti-climactically, many of the “graduates” went back again to nursery school the next week. No school until April 11th. But after March 31st, they had to leave. And into an “after school program” ( 学童 gakudo) that allowed them to go from 8:30.
The 1st Year Wall (小1の壁 shouichi no kabe) had begun…