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First day of school is a big step for everyone


Debbie Hartley trailed back from her grandchildren and daughter.

"Keep walking with Mommy and then turn around and I'll take your picture," she called out with a camera to her face.

A few steps ahead of her, granddaughter Rosie Parrish, 4, held her mom's hand, lumbering along wearing a big pink butterfly backpack about half her size stuffed with crayons, hand sanitizer and her favorite "blankie."

"Are we going to the boo-hoo breakfast, because Grandma's going to boo-hoo," Hartley said.

Monday was Rosie's first day of prekindergarten at Cimino Elementary School in Valrico. She is the last of Hartley's seven grandchildren to start school, so while Rosie excitedly pulled her mom along to keep up with her two older brothers, Hartley wondered how she was going to get through the rest of the day.

In past years, Rosie was her shoe-shopping buddy after they'd drop off the boys at school and Rosie's mom went to work. But Rosie's been restless. Last year, Rosie made her grandmother buy a prekindergarten workbook.

Inside the cafeteria, Rosie and her brothers ate a quick cereal breakfast. Rosie, in her navy blue jumper, swung her feet under the table, her butterfly sneakers lighting up every few seconds.

Rosie's mom, Stacie Parrish, hovered over the table, taking pictures of her three children eating cinnamon toast cereal. Her own sister rushed in with her four children, and the cousins yelled out to each other.

Rosie took her arm out of her backpack strap to give a high five to her aunt, Melissa Rabah.

"Rosie, you look beautiful. Are you ready for school?" asked Rabah.

Rosie nodded.

Then it was time to hurry off to class. Rosie and her brothers filed out with their mom and grandmother leading the way. They first dropped off her two brothers, David and Daniel, at their classrooms.

Rosie hugged and kissed them goodbye. Then it was her turn. "It's this one, Mom," Rosie said, heading for Ms. Priola's class.

Inside, children were sitting at tables coloring on paper flowers with markers. Parents circled with cameras.

"Hi, Rosie!" Ms. Priola called. Parrish helped her unload her backpack. There were more pictures, then it was time to leave.

"Now, baby, at the end of the day, you go in the line with everyone, and Mommy and Grandma are going to pick you up in the car," Parrish told Rosie, who by now had found her seat and was intently coloring her flower.

"Bye, baby girl," Parrish called. "Bye, Rosie Lee," Hartley said, as both backed out of the classroom.

Rosie waved with the marker in her hand, but kept her eyes on her flower.

When the door closed, the two women peered through the glass for another look.

"You okay?" Hartley asked her daughter.

"Yeah. My baby," Parrish said as they hugged. Then Parrish tore away. "I'm going to look one more time," she said, heading back for the door. When she returned, it was Hartley's turn.

"One more time!" Hartley said, running to the door.

First day of school is a big step for everyone 08/21/08 [Last modified: Thursday, August 21, 2008 4:30am]
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