The Girl’s first day of Pre-school was today. This past month has been a whirlwind of activity, from deciding that she should go to pre-school, to contacting the pre-school, from filling out forms and writing checks, to dropping her off this morning with her little back pack, earnestly clutching her stuffy.
We decided that it would be best to put the Girl in part-time Pre-school to start. Two full days a week, possibly increasing to three days a week when she turns four, in preparation for full-time big kid school when she turns 5. We shock her a little bit now, to lessen the shock later on down the road. And socialization, and independence, and all the other good things that come with being somewhere where your parents are not.
I have a lot of baggage surrounding school and daycare. One time in particular in grade Primary, I remember purposefully missing the bus. My mom then drove me to school, as I sobbed and wailed. When she parked the car, and came around to pull me out of the car, I tried to hide under my baby brother’s car seat. She then hauled me to my classroom by my arm with one hand (while I did spaghetti limbs), and my brother in her other. I was wailing and crying the whole time. My teacher held me in her arms, as I sobbed into her shoulder, and my Mom left. I stopped shortly thereafter, but I wasn’t happy about being at school. Looking back, I’m not sure what exactly my problem was. It’s not as if I was ill-used at school (at least, not at that point). I have very pleasant memories about grade primary in general, and my teacher in particular. It’s not as if that was the first time that I had been left somewhere else under the care of others while my parents were somewhere else. I had been in Daycare for a time. But I remember being not too pleased about being left at daycare either.
She’s always been quite independent, so I wasn’t all that worried about her reaction to being left. Often when we’re somewhere that she’s having fun, and it’s time to go home, she’ll suggest that we go and leave her there. I wasn’t worried, that is, until we went to the school to drop of the registration forms. We were going to leave her in the classroom to play, and get used to the place, while we went down to the office on a different floor of the tiny building. I told her, “Mummy and Daddy are going downstairs for a bit, but you can stay and play, and we will be right back.” We weren’t half way down the stairs when we heard a sound from the top of the stairs, which could have been either a cat being murdered, or my daughter’s distinctive meow-crying. It was the latter. All my own emotion-memories surrounding daycare and school came flooding back. We ended up bringing her downstairs with us. At that point I knew it would be worse today, when we were leaving the building entirely.
So today. She was not nervous in the least leading up to it. She was excited, even. This morning she said, as she sat and ate her breakfast, “Mummy, I hope you remembered that I’m going to school today.” I had told her that Mummy and Daddy couldn’t stay at school with her, so that she wouldn’t be surprised. She accepted it. I took some pictures of her earnest face, and enormous back-pack on the way. When we got there, she walked right in, and started chatting with other kids. But the time came for us to go, and I said, “Okay, Mummy and Daddy are going now!” No reaction. She stared off somewhere else, like she wasn’t listening to me. “We’ll see you later on! Have fun at school today!” Still no reaction. So we left. Then we heard it. She made a run for it, she was crying out for us. One of the teachers intercepted her on the way out, because they are professionals. We did not look back. (I may have cried in the car).
Now I’m sitting here in the eerie quiet, (the Boy immediately went down for a nap upon arriving home) wishing that I had thought to ask if she wanted to hug and kiss us good-bye. At the time, she was unresponsive, so I didn’t think of it, and I was worried about drawing out the good-bye. Now I think it might have been too quick. For now, I’ll believe that she settled in quickly after we were gone. Enough to have fun. Maybe have something to eat. (I really hope she doesn’t shit her pants, but that’s another set of worries entirely.)