I have always loved the book The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. It is the story of a little raccoon and his mom on the night before school starts (well, technically the day before school starts since they are nocturnal of course). The little raccoon is a bit nervous to go to school, so his mommy gives him a kiss on his hand and tells him to touch his hand to his cheek whenever he feels scared or lonely so that he can get a kiss from her whenever he needs one. Spoiler alert- the sweetest part of the story is when he heads off to school and then runs back suddenly to give his mommy a kiss on her hand from him. I can’t even type this without getting teary! Such a sweet, touching story.
Our daughter recently started school. In my perfect world I had always planned that I would read this story to her the night before school started and it would be beautiful and touching and special. But then suddenly it was a week before school started and I wasn’t so sure if I should read it to her after all. She was nervous about school. I was nervous about her going to school. Perhaps this tearjerker of a book would just be too much for us both. Perhaps it would remind her to feel lonely rather than give her confidence to get through the day. Perhaps I should start considering home schooling…
In the end, I did send her to school and I did read her the book but in the most low key way possible while she was watching a show and eating a snack before bed Not exactly the perfect Kodak moment I had envisioned for years. I wasn’t sure she was even paying attention to the story until I noticed that her little fist was clenched tight with a death grip around the kiss I had given her hand during the story. She kissed my hand as well and we both kept our kisses safe until bedtime.
The next morning we gave each other fresh fistfuls of kisses and off she went to for the first day of school. She thrived and I survived. Each subsequent day she got out of the car a bit more confidently than the day before until she was bouncing out of the car like she owned the place. On about the 5th day though she ran back to the car; and I thought, “Uh-oh. Here we go,” and braced myself for a meltdown Instead though she opened my car door, grabbed my hand, and gave it a big kiss before skipping off with a smile to get in line with her class. What more could a mommy want? I know it will always be one of my most special memories.
So if you ever wonder if “The Kissing Hand” is s good back to school book or not, the answer is yes, a thousand times yes. Thank you, Audrey Penn, for this book that helps kids so much and helps mommies even more!