Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Grace's First Day of School

Today wasn't even the "real" first day of school - just orientation -and I am not going to lie. It was rough.

I was up before dawn. I was excited and nervous about how this day would go. After getting myself put together (i.e. actually brushing my hair!) and getting organized for breakfast and beyond, it was time to get the girls up. We had a big day ahead of us!

First, pictures by the trees! A mandatory first day of school tradition.

Grace was very excited. 
"Do you want to go to school?" I asked.
"Yeah. They'll be kids. Lots of kids. And boys." she answered.

"Grace, who's your teacher?" I asked.
"Mrs. Campbell. She's a nice lady."she replied.

Obviously, we've been talking a lot about school lately.

She looks ready to me!

Charlotte was gearing up for a big day too! Not first-day-of-school-big but worthy of a picture by her tree nonetheless!
Charlotte was going to music class with Nana!

Not even 8 am yet and she is already dirty!
I don't know how she does it!

I dropped Charlotte and Nana off at Charlotte's music class. Met the teacher and a couple of parents. Charlotte was jazzed! Running all over the classroom and shrieking with joy. Grace was in good sprits too as we said goodbye to Charlotte and Nana and headed to school!
One kid to go!
(Charlotte had a lot of fun at music class! High spirits and high energy according to Nana!)

We got to Grace's school and were greeted by lots of smiling teachers and helpers. Grace got to pick out her very own school bag. She chose purple! She was given a name tag which had her name on it - obviously - and a ladybug - her symbol for the school year.
Grace loves lady bugs and I took it a good omen!

We placed Grace's new school bag in her cubby and set off to wash hands. We looked around the classroom at toys, puzzles, play dough and more! The parents were instructed to get their child set up with an activity and then meet in an ajacent classroom so we could go over school rules and procedures while the children met their teacher and their classmates.
Grace quickly found some puzzles and her friend, R, so I thought we were good to go. I told her I was would be in the next room and that I would be back in a little bit. (Mind you, the next room is visible from where the children were playing. It was almost as if we were all in the same room...almost.)
The parents slowly gathered in "our" room while the children did remarkably well separating from their parents. I was so happy. Grace seemed to be enjoying the new toys and the new faces.
So far, so good! I was able to snap one picture...

and then all hell broke loose.

First, I caught her glancing in my direction. Just checking in to see where I was. Then, I could see her strain around a corner or a book shelf to make sure I was still there. Next thing I knew, she was standing at the entrance to the parents' classroom. A quick wave from me and the teacher was able to re-direct Grace into a new activity.
At the next drive-by, the teacher mouthed that I needed to come talk to Grace. I could tell that her pride was holding back tears and my heart deflated and sank into the pit of my stomach...where it still resides.
Grace and I hugged. We talked a bit. I got her involved with some building blocks. She seemed distracted and content so I re-joined the parents.
Moments later, a teacher returned with a sobbing Grace in her arms. If your heart can sink lower than the pit of your stomach, mine surely did.
I spent the remainder of the class with Grace. I showed her the fish tank and the crayons. The kitchen and the supply of Kleenex. We talked to all the teachers and found some books. She hiccuped and gasped.
Several times, I tried to leave her in the care of a teacher to re-join the parent group.
It never worked.
Class went on for what felt like an eternity. I couldn't wait for it to be over. I could only imagine what Grace felt like. Especially when she kept saying she wanted to get in the car and go home.
As we exited, Mrs. Campbell told me that Grace should bring a comfort item next time. Next time?! How could I possibly think about next time? I had just spent the better part of an hour with the child that every mother hopes she doesn't have on the first day of school.
I was fighting back my own tears just trying to get out of there. I felt defeated and like a failure. 
I obviously hadn't prepared her as well as I could I should have.

In the car, just the two of us, Grace settled down. I asked her if she had liked school expecting a resounding noooo. Amazingly she said yes! I asked her if she wanted to go back and again she said yes! When I asked her why she got so upset all she could muster was, "I needed Mommy. Gracie was sad."
Tears. Flowing. Then. And now as I write.
This parenting thing is hard. So hard. 
And the first day of school? I ain't gonna lie. It kicked my a**.


Jody said...

Hang in there, mommy! If there is one thing I can tell you from my mom's home daycare and taking Kendry to church nursery and daycare, its that most kids will stop crying within a few minutes of their parent leaving. I hope the next class is easier on both of you. :)

Anonymous said...

This is exactly why I have not put my two yeart old daughter in preschool yet. You are right parenting is soooo hard. I am having a hard time letting go. I am enjoying this time with my sweet little one. Call me selfish, but we will get there eventually.


Home Sweet Home Place said...

Jody - thanks for the words of encouragement! I think you are right! When I first left her with her babysitter, she would cry. But as soon as I was out of sight, she stopped crying and all was right with the world! Fingers crossed that is what we are dealing with here!

Julia - yep, they will all get there and letting go is so hard! You just start getting them to eat and talk and sleep through the night and the next thing you know, you are sending them off into the world!

Megan said...

Awww, this made me cry. sigh. This coming Friday I'll be leaving P at a daycare for a full day once per week. I'm looking forward to the time to myself but am dreading how I'll miss her and how she'll miss me. I know leaving will be like ripping off a band aid. ugh. I remember crying as a child; I think I was almost 5, when my Mom would drop me off at the babysitter. She eventually gave me a little ring that was once hers so that I'd "have a piece of her with me always." It worked and I never felt sad again. Maybe you can give her a little item; a hankie or some sort of trinket that belongs to you so she can feel like you are with her? I'm dreading this stuff. AAAGGHH!!!