Something strange happened as I walked my youngest child to her first day of kindergarten. With every step she took, she grew younger and younger until just before we reached the door, she was a baby in my arms again.

“I don’t think I’m glad,” my baby said. “I don’t think I am going to be glad today. I think I am going to miss you today.”

I look at the upturned face and saw the tears. Oh, good heavens! What am I thinking sending this baby to school? Maybe I should hold her back a year. Maybe she’s not ready socially. Maybe she’s too short!

She had gone to preschool, but we both knew that this was the big time. Real school like her older brothers and sister. Of course, it was too late to turn back. With a smile firmly in place, I told her I was sure she would be glad when I picked her up.

Since it was the first day, it was practically protocol to prolong the good-bye by going in with your child to the new classroom. After 10 minutes, the teacher came by a group of huddling parents and tried unsuccessfully to make us depart.

“You want us to leave now, don’t you?” I asked. Her teacher (picture the Good Witch of the North minus the wand) smiled and said: “Well…”

Giving it one last try, I said: “Did you know that in some cultures, parents stay with their child the entire first day of school?”

The good witch said weakly: “Imagine that!”

I took the hint and left.

Alone at last, I spent the afternoon at home unfocused and accomplishing absolutely nothing.

The first day dragged to an end, and I went to pick up my daughter. She ran out with a huge smile and stories to tell about new friends and her teacher’s pretty smile.

The second day brought only a few tears (mostly mine). As she ran to me after school, she proudly showed me a barely visible injury that had necessitated a trip to the clinic. With an ache in my heart, I no longer saw a baby but instead could glimpse the woman she would become.

When I was little, my dad would tell us kids that he wished he could put a brick on our heads to stop us from growing up so fast. I understand now what I didn’t then.

I will try to accept these changes with good grace. I’ll admit that it was a bit of a reach when it came time for the third day of school. I asked my newly grown-up daughter what she wanted to wear.

“What do you think SHE would like best?” my daughter asked with teacher adoration clearly in her eyes.

I don’t mind. No, I mean it. I’m glad that she likes her teacher so much. Really.

Fast-forward to the end of a great year. Preparing my daughter for first grade, I was saying: “Just think, next year you’ll go to school all day and make more new friends.

She looked up at me and said “I don’t think I’m glad.”

I sighed and thought: “Me either.”