Like her son's shoes, Shannon Stallard's stomach was tied up in knots.
Gabe's first day of kindergarten at Evarts Elementary School had arrived.
"I think I'm more nervous than he is," Stallard said.
Gabe, who was excited about starting school, picked out his own clothes for the day; he wore a yellow T-shirt with a blue truck on it.
He didn't fall over his shoelaces once.
Kindergarten turned out to be a brightly-lit room with colorful posters and toys arranged neatly around tiny tables and chairs.
A caring teacher guided the children, and their anxious parents, through the half-day initiation to the world of kindergarten.
Angie Sellers, a master in the science of story time, forming straight lines and bathroom breaks, said the biggest challenge of the first day of kindergarten is calming students' and parents' fears.
"It's a huge day for both of them," she said. "There's a fear of the unknown."
Kindergarten means the separation of mother and child, said Sellers, and that can be a traumatic experience. But Tuesday went well.
"This is the first time in four years there have been no cryers," she said.
After breakfast, new students learned the rules for Mrs. Sellers' class.
They learned to raise their hands and wait to be called on.
They learned to keep all four feet of their chairs on the floor, and to stay in their seats.
They learned about using inside voices.
Some took to the rules better than others.
Gabe, for example, decided to hide under the table when it was his turn to get his honey-pot name tag, a clear violation of the stay-in-your-seat rule.
Sellers didn't miss a beat, introducing him to the class right where he was.
She said she's used to first-day jitters.
"Singing, playing, activities relax them," she said.
Another tool Sellers used to put her kindergarten class at ease seemed to be a hit.
She read "Off to School, Baby Duck," a story about the first day of school for one nervous duckling.
When the duckling headed for the school doors, Sellers read, she took a look back.
"Can anyone tell me why she looked back?" Sellers asked the class.
Christian Hall knew, and he even raised his hand: "Because she wanted to go home," he said.
The story relieves students' fears by giving them a character they can identify with, said Sellers.
Two hours into the school day, kindergartners were singing along with a counting song and clapping. A few mothers stayed, hugging the walls and looking a bit lost.
When lunchtime came, Shannon Stallard held her son's hand as they walked to the cafeteria.
He'd dart ahead, then return to take her hand again.
On Wednesday, parents won't be allowed to stay.
"Tomorrow's D-Day," Sellers said.
"We may have a few tears then."