When Juliette brought home the invite for her preschool graduation, I put on my happy face and used my happy voice to exclaim,  “This is SO EXCITING, Baby!  I can’t believe you’re GRADUATING!”  But behind my overly-exuberant smile, my heart was sinking in my chest…I can’t believe she’s graduating.  Her preschool has been such a warm, friendly home away from home these past three years.  She’s greeted each morning with hugs from four different Mexican grandmas that coo “Ohhhh, mi Corazon!” as they lift her off her feet and squeeze the breath right out of her.  Plus, it’s preschool.  Preschool is for little kids.  Which means by association that my girl is still little.  Right?  RIGHT?!

Juliette got ready for the graduation ceremony in her classroom with her teachers while all the parents waited in the outside plaza, and the moment she stepped outside in the frilly white dress and flower bow Miss Marta had given her, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  She’s so grown-up. I mean, I guess I knew this already, what with the learning to read and the wanting privacy in the bathroom, but in that moment, as she grabbed the hand of her buddy and waved to me on her way to seat, her maturity was just so wonderfully, woefully evident.  I waved back, again with a smile that bordered on manic, my eyes shining.  We’ll call them tears of joy.  Tears of pride, maybe?  Ok, tears of downright heartbreak.  Baby Jules has 100% up and flown the coop.

Time has whisked away my preschooler, but the beautiful little lady left standing in her stead is, truth be told, AMAZING.  Juliette’s class took the stage for their their dance performance of La Movimiento Naranja and she stood front and center, singing and twirling her heart out while I grinned from ear to ear.  Like, genuinely grinned – seeing this kid’s confidence and exuberance and grace sent me over the moon.  She’s so lovely.

The kids changed into their caps and gowns after their performance (this preschool doesn’t mess around!), and then Juliette took the stage once again to receive her hard-earned diploma.

I know, it’s preschool – the bar for “graduating” is hardly high.  But still, I’m so freaking proud of her.  The dad of one of Juliette’s classmates sat next to us that evening and gushed about what a kind girl she is, how warmly she greets the other kids (and their parents!) each morning.  Her teacher told me at our parent-teacher conference last month that Juliette is quick to share, quick to look out for kids that are new or having a tough day.  The proficiency in letters and numbers is all well and good, but what warms me to my core is that she’s proven herself to be an A+ friend.

Happy graduation, little one.  Next stop: Kindergarten.  I’M SO EXCITED FOR YOU!  HOORAY!!!  YOU DID IT!!!  YESSSSSSS!!!