It’s that time of year—herds of tearful parents, armed with cameras phones, will soon be shepherding their 4-foot-tall humans to the doors of a school that the kids will remember forever as bigger than life itself. It seems like only yesterday that they donned preschool cardboard graduation caps and celebrated the successful learning of their ABCs without biting, spitting, or mooning the class too much. And now here they are, on this day that will kick off the next 13 years. You only have 2-3 more meaningless graduations that will eventually lead to the real one, where they are adults. One day, you will look at these pictures that are taken today and will not believe that time has gone so fast. Because today is the first day of kindergarten.

First time parents of a new kindergartener may wonder what to expect. You don’t know how your kid is going to behave, so you don’t know how to prepare yourself, or them, for this big day. Last year, my son started kindergarten. My friends warned me about the crushing paparazzi that is all of the parents who want to be the last to take a picture and get a reassuring squeeze in as the kids line up for this big day—the same parents who will be dropping their kid off three blocks away by the last day of school and shouting, “Get out!” while they mourn the upcoming loss of a multiple hour break. (In the end, we don’t feel bad about this loss of need for each other because the feeling is mutual. On the first day last year my husband elbowed his way to the front of the line for the last good bye. By the end of the first month, my son would run from a half a block away, then turn and wave and boom, “Bye! Love you!!!!” By the second month he ran from 2 blocks away and started to talk Captain Underpants with his buddies, nary a glance over his shoulder.)

But this first day is the big one. Because I was unwilling to do the elbowing to say goodbye to my son last year, I got to stand back and observe. So new parents of kindergartners can guess what to expect, I’ve wrapped up the 5 kids you meet at kindergarten drop off, including rankings of the photo quality the parents will get out of this kid, as well as how many tears the parents will shed.

1. The Ole’ Pro.

This kid might be well adjusted, he might be totally stunned by the chaos of the crushing crowd of parents and kids that are surrounding him for just one picture, or he might be two crayons short of a full box. Either way, he walks up to the school with his backpack that is so big that it is wearing him instead of the other way around and stands in line like this is just another day.

Photo quality: 8/10

Tears from parents: 350

2. Lil’ Ham.

She has never met a camera she didn’t like. In the week leading up to today, she agonized over which outfit would be the perfect one and practiced her Blue Steel face in a mirror. She treats the walk to the line like the red carpet, being sure to stop and smize with every camera click. This is her day, and she is not squandering it.

Photo quality: 10/10

Tears from parents: 575 if they are stage moms, 75 if she is a monster of her own making.

3. Chatty Magoo.

This kid’s parents have no ears because they have been talked off. He knows all the words and all the questions and he uses them all in a nonstop loop. He might be blue because over the past several years he has forgotten to pause to breathe. He has made five friends by the time he gets in line and his parents step back to take a picture.

Photo quality: 4/10. He is constantly caught mid-word.

Tears from parents: 250. They are proud but can’t wait to get home to enjoy the sweet, sweet sound of silence.

4. The Stage 4 Clinger.

Every class has at least one. This child doesn’t know what awaits beyond the doors, but he is certain it will kill him. He screams in pitches you never knew were available to human lungs. As he does so, he throws the full force of his 45 pounds at his parent’s waist—hoping the sound he is making and his power will break through his parent’s skin so he can crawl inside and hide. He makes all of the above kids start to wonder, Does he know something we don’t know?

Photo quality: 0/10. There will be no photos.

Tears from parents: 0 during the episode, 1,000 once their bodies have been surgically separated.

5. The Heartbreak Kid.

This rare bird is terrified and cannot believe her parents are abandoning her. But, being the sweetheart she is, she appreciates all they have done for her in the five years leading up to today, and she knows everything they do is for her own good. She smiles up at her parents and blinks repeatedly to fight back tears to protect them from her fear.

Photo quality: 7/10. Seriously cute, but you will detect the Eeyore quality to her smile.

Tears from parents: Enough to fill the Nile.

So parents, check out the list, assess which number your child may fall into, and come up with an action plan to survive that first drop off. Because we are all crying only because they are growing up just too darn fast. This complicated mixture of pride, gratitude, and fear has reduced us to useless goo. But now is the time to let go—because now, more than ever, it’s their day, not yours! The best thing you can do is give a hug, tell them you love them, and send them on their way to their day. Happy drop off!

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