While he assured me it was almost like being in Kindergarten, I couldn't help but notice all the differences.
We woke up bright and early because unlike his late start Kindergarten, First Grade begins at 8:15.
Continuing last year's tradition, I made him a First Day Crown and his requested breakfast.
Actually, he wanted bacon, eggs, waffles, toast, and donuts. We compromised with bacon, eggs, and toast.
We took the obligatory Standing In Front Of The House first day of school photos.
Which made us a couple minutes late while I desperately tried to freeze time.
We all loaded up in the car and drove over to the school where we walked him to his classroom.
Joseph's school has a separate playground and entrance for Kindergarten. It's right next to the office and is fenced in with a gate. Now, however, he's on the main campus. Which means he's dropped off and has to walk through the walkways to class.
For some reason that makes me anxious.
My baby - the little guy I won't let wander even one aisle over from me at the store - is walking across an entire campus of people and buildings. Alone.
Excuse me while I find a paper bag.
Even worse, he's walking to the bathrooms and the playground the same way. Alone.
Really need that paper bag.
Part of my worry stems from a Washingtonian view of Californian schools. In Washington, the schools were enclosed. Once a student walked up the stairs into the building, everything from the entrance to the playground to the class rooms were in the same building. For some reason that seems safer than the open school plans in California where a student crossed grassy paths and open walkways on their way to the library and playground.
I take small solace in the fact that I've never heard of his school losing a kid.
Once we got to the classroom, I had to swallow a lump. It was a "real" classroom. No kitchen toy area. No circle time area. No big, soft floor pillows. Instead desks were lined in pairs in long rows. His class has 32 students.
It's enough to make my head explode and make a mental note to get his teacher a bottle of wine for Christmas.
Joseph gets to sit next to his friend Kurtis. And in front of his friend Ricky. And across from his friend Jackson. As I stood in the back of the classroom, I wondered if we should say something to this first year teacher about her seating arrangements.
I gave Joseph a hug and kiss, thankful he's still young enough to give them to me freely without a roll of the eyes or wiping it off. He looked nervous, but smiled brightly.
And then Elizabeth walked over to him and gave him a tight hug saying, "You'll have a great day, Joseph!"
Which was when the water works began.
The teacher flicked the lights. The principal came over the speakers and asked the parents to begin making their way off campus.
I walked outside the classroom and looked into the window.
Joseph sat in a sea of children at a desk that fit him perfectly. He leaned over and said something to Kurtis, making them both giggle. The teacher walked to the front of the classroom and began writing on the board.
I walked away.