I remember being a little girl and climbing onto the kitchen counter to watch my big brother out the window walking down the long driveway to wait for the school bus. I remember that feeling of being left behind, of feeling lonely and downcast. I’ve been watching my daughter see her brother off to school the last two years with that same look in her eyes. Last week, she finally joined him…with a gleeful shyness, if that’s a thing. My two are even in the same class together- a Montessori multi-age classroom (3-6). This is my son’s third and kindergarten year in the primary class, the culmination of the program. For my daughter, it’s her introductory year, the first time she’ll be away from me. On their first day, I watched my son lead her from her labeled coat hook to her labeled cubby, wait for her to change her shoes, then take her hand and escort her into class.
I’m not going to lie, it was pretty sweet.
With the whole brother-and-sister-going-to-school-together thing happening, I bought the book Adèle & Simon by Barbara McClintock to kind of psych them up. It has some of my favorite aspects of children’s books: lovely vintage-style illustrations, hidden treats for kids to look for, and most especially, it’s all strewn around the streets of Paris. (Yeah, Mama’s kind of a francophile…)
Adèle and her impetuous younger brother Simon are walking home from school together, Simon laden with not only a backpack, but also a stack of books, a drawing he’d made at school, and the typical slew of layers of clothing that we send our children off to school in with slim hope of receiving back at the end of the day. As they take the long way home, stopping at perennial haunts like the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Cathédral de Notre-Dame, the distracted young boy proceeds to drop each item he’s carrying, much to the ire of his more responsible older sister.
On each sprawling page, we search “Where’s Waldo” style for the Simon’s lost goodies.
It is such a beautiful tour through Paris, and McClintock has even included a little guide (and even a detailed map) at the back of the book about the locales depicted on each page. It was the treasure hunt that drew my children into this book, but at the same time they’re learning a little something about Paris. Win-win in my book.
How was your child’s first day of school? Are you celebrating or mourning?
Here is last year’s Ten Favorite Back to School Books list if you’re looking for more ideas.