Tuesday, September 11, 2012
We prepped, and we prepped, and we prepped. We read "Twas the Night Before Preschool" a million times in the month before September 6th. We went to the open house and did awesome. Of course, he didn't talk to anyone and sort of said "hi" to a few of the teachers, but he was super duper excited about school and especially the "rice" (they had rice in the sensory table.)

Despite open house going well, I still knew that the first day(s) of leaving Henry would be equally hard on him and myself. What I also anticipated was how much the inner preschool teacher in me would totally be conflicting with the mommy of a wee 3 year old in me.

Last Tuesday was a second open house. While I expected that they would sort of run through the day (because you were supposed to go at a certain time in small groups), they didn't. It was simply another opportunity to go check out the classroom, which was great for Henry. He didn't even want to leave that day!

Last Thursday was the real deal. I was pretty much prepared for kicking and screaming on his part, but much to my surprise, he happily sat down at the playdough table, gave me a kiss and I was on my way out (crying of course.) Though my tears spoke otherwise, I was really quite excited that the first transition away from me was so easy! Could he really be "just fine"? I go to pick him up that day and he sees me through the door. He immediately starts crying and crying and doesn't even move. I had to go in the room. He had, apparently, by the time there was about 30 minutes left to the day, missed me so much that he cried and cried for most of that last 30 minutes. Oddly, I would have put bets on he would have initally cried when I left, not later. But, 2.5 hours is a LONG time for a 3 year old, so I'm guessing he had pretty much had it at that point.

Over the course of the weekend, we talked about mommy coming back to pick him up, how we didn't need to be sad, that teachers were there to help, hug, snuggle, etc. when mommy couldn't, etc. etc. Every time we talked about it, he seemed ok. He told me he wouldn't cry, he'd sit down at circle time (he had refused to sit the first day), and that he'd have fun. We read our "Twas the Night Before Preschool" book a million more times.

As we pulled up today (after first picking up some new snazzy Toy Story "light up" shoes for $11.99 at Kohls), he said unprompted, "Mommy, I'm going to need a snuggle". Oh boy. He wasn't crying. We talked through it again and walked in. We found his cubby, his name tag and decided on something to play with (he became quite excited when he saw they had the same play food pizza he had at home). He started playing in the kitchen and as soon as I said "It's time for me to go" his eyes immediately welled up and he even asked "Can Claire Bear stay here?". OMG. I was dying. This is wear the teacher and the mommy in me starting fighting.

I'd obviously seen this scenario a number of times in my 4 years as a teacher. I've been the teacher telling the parent that it would be best if they just left quickly, assuring them that their child would be "fine". Man, was that easy to say as a teacher. Every mommy part of me wanted to just stay and snuggle him. By this point, he was wailing "mommy, mommy, don't go".

The teacher in me won, as despite the screaming, I walked him over to his ECSE teacher. She had to physically hold him back as I walked away, tears now in my own eyes. I stayed for another 5 minutes and watched him. He laid on the floor crying as his ECSE teacher tried to console him. Every ounce of the mommy in me wanted to go back in there and snuggle him until he was ok, but I knew that wasn't an option. That was MY BABY BOY in there, completely distraught. It was SO.HARD. to walk away from that room. so.hard.

Upon returning to pick him up, the teacher said he cried throughout playtime, for a total of 30 minutes or so (there were 3 others crying and she said they were kind of getting each other going). He was eventually "ok", sat at circle time, didn't talk to any friends, but will answer teacher questions when they ask him yes or no questions. So, all in all, it was a pretty ok day.  I'm confident it will get better, but it was tough to see today. To end on a positive note, here are some pictures from the open house and first day!

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