Poetry Friday: Taking My Son to His First Day of Kindergarten by William Trowbridge

Today’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Carol at Carol’s Corner .

Packing up the house in which we’ve raised our children, I find tokens of their long past childhood everywhere: tucked in chests of drawers filled with old T-shirts from holiday trips and sports teams, at the bottom of closets along with still-muddy soccer cleats, and in boxes of old photographs labeled “to be organized into albums”.  The other day, I came across old school pictures, and was stopped in my tracks by this one in particular:


Mrs. Kaiser is my first-ever teaching mentor, and being a “mom-volunteer” in her classroom is the experience that set me forth on my own teaching life journey.  The little fellow directly below her (the one with his shirt half hanging out and his khakis already showing signs of playground frolic) is our Ben.
Unlike his sisters, who raced into every pre-school day with huge smiles of anticipation, Ben had started almost every pre-school day with tears and tantrums.  Of course, each teacher reported that he had settled in the moment I left, and he was always full of happy news when I picked him up…but, by the time he was ready for kindergarten, I was dreading that inevitably difficult send off on the first day, I was conditioned for it.
That morning, we had walked to school and watched from the sidewalk as Mrs. Kaiser stood by her classroom door to greet her A.M. class.  That afternoon, we returned again and took our place in the line outside her door.  The bell rang, Mrs. Kaiser stepped out, and I remember looking at Ben and seeing his face light up.  He could not wait for school to begin.
There were many school and college send offs in the years to come, but that one is my favorite.

Taking My Son to His First Day of Kindergarten by William Trowbridge 

As the eight o’clock bell spills
its racket into this mild September,
it is I, not he, who hesitates
in the clamor toward the open doors,
who spots the little ruffian throwing rocks
at the Trash-Master by the swings, 
who shyly searches for Room 106, 
where Miss Wynn waits with the name tags.
The halls still gust and flow 
with the rush of new dresses, the scent
of denim and sharpened pencils.
Eighth-graders arrange themselves
in groups to tower in their nonchalance,
eyeing each other like sprinters at the blocks.
Near 106, a bulletin board
declares “The Season of Changes”
above a paper grove of sugar maples.
He pulls me on, then runs ahead,
fearless, blameless, gone.

9 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Taking My Son to His First Day of Kindergarten by William Trowbridge

  1. There are a treasure trove of memories are in our homes. I often felt like life was running so quickly when we were in the trenches raising our children. Later years are for remembering and being so thankful as we unwrap the treasures again.

  2. Thank you for the poem – but even more, thanks for your own memories! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

  3. “fearless, blameless, gone” – yes, they are! I have cleaned out and given to my grown children “their” stuff, but still there are remains, old favorite picture books, rubber stamps with their names, and of course Pictures! This is lovely, a remembrance of a poem and a time precious to you, Tara. Thank you.

  4. Tara, memories are treasures locked away in our hearts but finding them often gives pause to past days over the years. I have been going through my closets, too, and often become surprised at what I find. The poem you shared is quite appropriate, especially these lines, “He pulls me on, then runs ahead, / fearless, blameless, gone.” I hope your transition time will be smooth sailing.

  5. Moving is definitely a time for remembering, celebrating, and maybe even grieving those days long past. I love the kindergarten poem– that last line, “Fearless, blameless, gone.” Wow! It kind of captures their journey at many other junctions as well. Wishing you lots and lots of wonderful adventures in this new chapter in your life.

  6. What a wonderful story, Tara! It takes me forever to clean out closets and drawers because of treasures like this one. Trowbridge gets it exactly right, doesn’t he? “Fearless, blameless, gone.”

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