A Constructed Life

The First Grader

First Grade. It just sounds older. No more pre- or kinder-  attached to anything. Just first grade. And in many ways, it still sounds so young. After all, there are many more grades to come. But now school is all school. There is no more rest time, no more play centers. It’s academics and math homework and spelling tests and Spanish class and ohmygoodness – when did she turn into a student who has to study? She’s only 6-years-old.


But her brain seems ready for it, as she flings Spanish words around and my I-learned-Spanish-twentysome-years-ago brain tries desperately to remember a language it knew so long ago. We spell p-r-e-v-e-n-t and e-x-p-e-c-t and they are tricky, those bigger words, but l-e-g and m-a-n are a piece of cake for her fluently-reading mind.

So far, math is smooth sailing and I hope it continues that way, because for most of my life it was mental torture. And she tells me how clouds are formed, teaches me about dinosaurs and I realize this is just the start – or rather the continuation – of my daughter teaching me things and reminding of things that have been buried under piles in my brain.

It’s amazing to watch what she is absorbing. Academically. Emotionally. Socially. Adeline is a very young first grader, having turned 6 two weeks before school started. The majority of her peers tower over her and are already turning 7. But she seems to be holding her own. So far so good.


Her teacher didn’t have to drag her in on the first day this year. She willingly and excitedly ventured forth. I see her growing up more and more quickly. She wants to be everyones friend. Tries to be. From what I can tell, she’s succeeding.

But I know so little about her days because so little is shared. How was your day, who did you sit with at lunch, play with at recess? What game did you play in gym? Masterpiece create in art? What’s one new thing you learned? What was the funnest part of your day? It’s the litany of questions we run through after school and I keep firing them off while only a handful get more than a 2-word answer.

“I can’t help it,” I tell her in my mind. “I don’t know what you do in that big building all day. I just want to know what your world is like, what you think of it, how you see it. How you feel about it. Or just how you feel.”


And we return the next day, and the day after that and after that with the same lunch in hand – salami sandwich, fruit, yogurt, 1/2 a Nutty Bar – and will continue to do so for another 12 years (hopefully the lunch changes). This is just the beginning. The foundation for the years yet to come. And I peer down the road, your little hand still holding mine, wondering what’s in store for my sweet baby girl. Those big things are sure to get here soon. Because the one thing I’m learning, day after day, is that you will always be growing up faster than I can comprehend. That all those next things arrive sooner than I expect and before I know it, those 12 years will have gone. So we’ll joy ride through first grade as long as it lasts, before being catapulted into whatever comes next.

Like purple hair and interesting outfits. At least this time it was just for Halloween.


2 thoughts on “The First Grader

  1. Jinny

    She is such a doll. She is so smart and has been for years beyond her age. She has had a thirst for knowledge since she was born loving all her books that she has and is still acquiring. She reminds me so much of Joey when he was little tho she may be a wee tad more shy but is quickly outgrowing that with her confidence growing exponentially. Soon she will be asking you why you ask her so many questions just like her dad asks me the same question and your answer will be the same — because you don’t tell me how your day was and laugh about it. Joe would have loved to see how she has grown into such a beautiful young lady she is since she and Crosby were the apple of his eye besides you and Joey. I hope she remembers how much he loved his grandkids and how much I too love them. Soon enough they will be not running into my open arms when I come to the house tho I’m sure like you and Joey will always be very loving and affectionate to me and you guys. It’s sad to know there will be no more babies but you four will always be my babies and I love you more than life itself.

  2. Father

    It all does happen fast! And growing up seems to happen in an instant. Tears come as I read about Addy and Crosby. The stuff of days seems to blur breathing the subtle changes in, but grow up they do. Allow more time to breath each day.

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