August 26, 2010

The first three weeks of school:

In typical Shelbi fashion I knew what I needed to do to get Gigi ready for her first day of school, pack what she needed in her backpack, and at what time I would need to leave to pick up my father at the airport – and yet…. Did Shelbi pack G’s backpack the night before? Did Lula wake at her usual crack of dawn? Did I have Lu’s outfit picked out and ready? Breakfast planned? Ahhh… That would be ‘No’ – ‘No’ – ‘No’ and… ‘No’. Maybe subconsciously I knew if I ran around like crazy trying to dress, feed and prep everyone and everything and sprinted out the door just in the nick of time, I wouldn’t have a moment dwell on the fact that… my baby was on her way off to her first, first day of school!

Or I am just me… a chaotic, whirlwind of ADD and I wasn’t prepared because I never am… Either way we all made it out the door with everything and on time to “Rescue Grampa from the dragons!” {Or, for those of you who don’t speak “Gigi”, pick him up from the airport.}

Gigi was excited to be going off to school – I knew from our experience at VBS this summer that G would probably be upset at my departure but be fine once the day got rolling. I was full prepared for this difficult “good-bye” scenario. At 12:00pm on the dot Mrs. U. opened the door to the classroom signaling it was time to come in. Like a blur Gigi shot past me, past all of the other children waiting and straight into Mrs. U's arms. By the time I made my way into the classroom G had already hung her backpack on her hook and was with Mrs. E. {the assistant} signing her name to the daily sign-in sheet.

I was able to get a quick hug good-bye and tell her that I loved her before she was lost to the wonder of her classroom. There were no tears. No begging either Daddy or Mommy to stay. Nope... just an "Okay - Love you - Bye..." as we tried to re-assure a girl that had already and without our help, leapt into preschool with both feet and without so much as a backward glance.

When I returned at 3pm to pick her up, a very excited G jumped from her chair to show me her painting and then quickly said "I don't want to go home! I want to stay here!" -- I might have expected a tearful good-bye and while I was mistaken in that expectation, I knew all along she would say something along the lines of not wanting to go home when I returned to pick her up!

I had a moment to visit with her teachers after all the other children and parents had left where I was informed in a "jovial" manner "G is a little chatterbox!"
I expected to hear this - I just did not expect to hear it on the first day!

The second day of school was 5 days later. Gig only attends preschool two days a week {I wish there had been room in the three day program… but we were too late} So, 5 days after a glorious first day experience I was not sure what to expect. As we were walking into the school with G’s little buddy Taylor {who we carpool with from time to time} the girls tried to say goodbye to me before we even reached the building. Sorry girls! I have to walk you into your classroom and sign you both in before you can say goodbye! Two happy girls skipped into the school house. Two happy girls raced to be the first into the class and two happy girls hung up their backpack {by themselves} and signed in and began to play. However, when I interrupted G to say “Goodbye - I love you and I will see you soon” The waterworks began. So a kiss on the head and I was out the door. Swept up by her teacher I stood out in the hallway pressed again the wall, so as not to be seen, listening. It only took G a few moments before she was happy again. Out of sight out of mind...

A few hours later when I picked G up I was told of a spill she took on the playground and how she cried inconsolably for some time. She was not injured but had to be removed to the chapel before she could be calmed down. Now that is the little drama queen I know and love. {Well, the “drama queen” part I could do without most of the time} Mrs. U and I both chalked it up to new surroundings and exhaustion. School starts right about naptime for G. I am aware it will take some time for her to get used to having to be “on” and learning during a time she is normally dreaming, snuggled in her bed with arms wrapped tight around her Teddy.

The third day of school G tried to say her “good-bye” to me in the car and I again reminded her that I had to walk her into her classroom before saying goodbye. This time however, when we reached her classroom she “Had to go potty!!!” This would prove to make the transition a challenge. She stood frozen in the doorway stuck in a quandary. She knew she needed to hang her bag up, she knew she needed to go potty and she knew she needed to say goodbye in a moment. She was unable to process all of those needs and cemented her feet to the floor. So with Lula on my hip, sweating and soaking me with an over filled diaper I tried to push my little statue toward the hooks to hang up her bag and remind her that she needed to go potty. I eventually managed to push her to the hooks, then the potty and toward the sign in sheet. By the time she needed to sign her name she was crying. Her teacher again came to my rescue. I kissed her goodbye and was out the door.

This time at pick up I was told she said “No” to her teacher a few times. I was reassured that this was not a bad thing. They were only three days into her first school experience, heck her first experience under anyone’s regular charge, except for me. Mrs. U said it was a good sign that G was comfortable with Mrs. U and they would work through it just fine. *sigh* this was not the raging success I had hoped for but it was by no means a failure. In truth it is becoming clear that G might have been better served in a program that could have offered more than two days a week. But I adore her teacher and try not to second guess anything, not yet… It’s only been three days of school.

The fourth day of school was the same; A cheerful goodbye in the car and then a tearful “Don’t leave me” in the classroom. I am starting to notice that G is the ONLY child who still has trouble with “Goodbye”. I wonder if she is the only child who is having trouble with the authority too. Have I done her a great disservice? I scheduled my life to fit my children I did not schedule my children to fit my life. We have not had a ton of structure; my quasi attachment parenting style may have put my girls behind the 8 ball a bit… In the end I stand firmly behind how I have parented my girls. But I feel a little sad that some if not all of the other 3 years olds were better prepared for regimen.

Today the tears started long before school.
I don’t want to go...
I want to stay home...
I want to stay with you...
I don’t like it....

All met with the same firm but kind
 "I am sorry you feel that way but you have to go. I am sorry you are sad, but I know that you are going to have fun. I love you and I will see you after school."

To which she responded each time… “I DON’T LOVE YOU!”
Heart aching and knowing she doesn’t mean it. I just kept saying.
“That’s okay; I love you no matter what!”

As I reward for going to school like the big, brave girl I know she is she was allowed to drive home with her neighborhood buddy Taylor and play at her house for a bit after school. I am told that Grace started to cry a few minutes before the end of the day but stopped herself and cheerfully announced “I’m okay! I forgot… I get to go home with Taylor today!!”

We shall see what next week brings. For now all I can do is reassure Gigi that I love her no matter what. As I am sure there are many more “I don’t love you’s!” and “I don’t like you’s”! in my future.


Melissa said...

Now I am worried... Darick starts his first, first day of school (with the Sassmaster, lol) Wed the 8th. I know his teacher is AWESOME, I just worry about the separation anxiety.

flipflopmama a.k.a. The SassMaster said...

Separation anxiety is really normal and usually increases after the "newness" of school wears off a bit. The realization that there are times in the day you don't get to do what you want or that there are other kids who take your stuff sometimes takes a bit of the shine off the idea of school. No one likes to see their kiddo distressed, but if we never give them the opportunity to feel that anxiety, we are robbing them of the realization that they can survive it. Teachers know it's hard for moms to walk away and let me say here and now - we applaud you and are grateful for your trust. I will however make you take your screamer HOME after the third "one more kiss!" JK!!

flipflopmama a.k.a. The SassMaster said...

Follow this link to amazon and check out this book. This post made me think of it. Totally apropos for you both :-)

flipflopmama a.k.a. The SassMaster said...

Oops... guess you'll have to copy and paste!

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