I hope she takes the same approach to all journeys in life

By JAMIE PATTERSON,
I kept it all together the day my daughter Elsie walked into the school building on her first day of kindergarten. 
I watched with pride as she cautiously entered the hall, only to turn around and smile at me. I smiled back and kept my tears hidden...until I made it down the road.
I was crying because it was another “first” for my little girl. She approaches each one with such excitement that it eliminates all the fears I have of letting her go. 
And tonight, there is another “first” for her as she graduates from kindergarten.
For the past several weeks, Elsie has talked about nothing else but graduating. She has been singing her program songs at the top of her lungs. She has been reciting her lines around every corner. And she has counted each day down.
I admire my little girl because she is so optimistic about the future. For her, graduating kindergarten is the beginning of a new journey. And it’s a journey that she is running toward at full speed.
Over the last week, Elsie has shown my everything she has learned over the last school year. Riding through town in the car, she reads to me from her mountain of tiny books. I find notes scribbled everywhere, just little reminders that she loves me. 
When I walk into her father’s office it looks like her own personal art gallery. He kept a picture she colored of them dancing taped to his office door until our baby son Jase decided to add his own personal touch to the drawing with a permanent marker.
Elsie is growing, and growing too fast for me. 
Pretty soon, it will be the first day in elementary school. There will be a first crush, a first car, a first heartbreak, a first date, a first job...
There will be moments that I have to remind myself to stay back. Let her learn on her own. 
But I have the confidence that Elsie will overcome any challenge that comes her way. She is so brave and determined to learn, to grow, to live.
I don’t think she realizes how much she is teaching me in this journey we are taking together.
I just hope she remembers me just like that day she entered the hallway into kindergarten. 
With the long walk ahead of her, unsure of what is ahead...I hope she remembers to just turn around and look for me. 
And when she sees me, she will smile and turn back toward her journey.
And she runs full speed ahead.