Wednesday, September 14, 2011

School Part II

Grace had her first "real" day of school today...kinda. Yes, today was where the parents were to come in, get their child settled, say good-bye and secretly cross their fingers and pray that their child wasn't The One. And that all happened except for Grace because I never left. Not because I am a stage-mom hovering over her every move. The school is a co-op which means that parents work in the classroom about once a month. The first day of school happened to be my day to help.

Again, no sleep the night before Grace's class. I didn't know if it was good or bad to be in the classroom the first day. Would it be harder for her to separate? Would she get upset when I was helping the other children? Would she understand that normally I wouldn't be in the classroom with her?

When all the other parents began saying good-bye, I found Grace playing with some match box cars and explained to her that the mommies and daddies were leaving now, that today was special and I got to stay but that in the future, mommy would leave too. She didn't seem phased. She was really into sending some matchbox cars down a sloped speedway.

In the classroom, just the teacher, students and a couple of moms, the kids started exploring their classroom. There was play dough, an art project, puzzles, toys, dolls - LOTS of fun stuff! I was assigned to the rug - basically playing with the kids on the floor. I figured Grace would be my shadow but she was off doing something on her own. I tried not to interact with her. I really focused on the other kids. Grace seemed ok. She came over and checked-in a couple of times but when she eventually moved on to another activity.

Class was two hours and it felt like an eternity to me. It must have seemed like a lifetime to the kids. About an hour in, you could see them all start to get tired. There were tears from a few and I tried really, really hard to comfort those little ones who wanted their 'mamas' because I know I would want someone to do the same for Grace.

Towards the end of class, I think Grace has a break through moment. A little girl, R, was playing with some blocks and I was playing with her. Grace came over to watch. Little R started saying she was going to make a big mess and then knocked the blocks over. You would have thought Eddie Murphy was live, in-classroom telling jokes the way Grace laughed. She thought R making a mess with the blocks was off the charts funny. When R saw Grace laughing she started laughing and then the two were inseparable for the next 15 minutes making messes with the blocks. While this seems pretty mundane, this was a game-changer for Grace. I think she realized that she could communicate and interact with another child. After playing with the blocks, I saw her and R playing little games near the door, I saw Grace go up to other kids and initiate a "conversation" (aka shrieks of joy that in toddler, I assume mean, hey you seem cool, let's hang out!).

All in all, it was a great day! I liked being in the classroom the first day. It was nice seeing what the students were doing in the classroom so that I could talk about it and get Grace ready for next time. I think  it gave Grace some confidence and an understanding that school wasn't anything scary.

Funny side note. Because it was the first day, we had a teacher's assistant in the classroom. She was there to assist the parents - to show us how to set up, clean-up and prepare the snack. Like I said above, I tried not to interact with Grace and at the very end, the TA came up and asked if Grace was my daughter. When I said yes, the TA responded, "Oh I just put that together. She is very independent!" I laughed and said, "We'll see. We will see."

After class, I asked Grace if she liked school...if she had had fun. She said, "Yes, Grace didn't cry!" She didn't cry...that is right! Now the real test, school next week sans Mom! I'm sure I will be getting a lot of sleep this week!

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