Tuesday, January 22, 2008

First Day of School

Today was my baby's first day of school. Over the last couple of days, Harper has been alternately excited and worried about attending. The worried/not wanting to go voice was usually expressed if we mentioned anything about listening to her teachers or pulling up her own pants when she used the bathroom. . .

Come this morning she awoke bright and early and said she was scared about going to school but acted so, so excited. Here she is modeling her new backpack in the kitchen this morning:

And then a final shot of her outside the doors of her school.

The preschool is inside one of the local elementary schools, so it seemed like a big place to leave such a little person.

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone

Until this morning I never fully appreciated the above quote. Harper was a little shy but didn't show any signs of distress until I actually got ready to walk out the door. The preschool teachers pick the children up outside the office, so I wasn't even able to go to the room with her. Once a teacher tried to take her hand and help her say goodbye to me, she fixed a monkey death grip on my coat and would not let go.

As a person with a long history of both teaching and babysitting, I knew that the very best thing I could do was to just leave. I knew that she was in good hands and would probably forget to miss me once she was in the room with toys and books and other children. I pried my coat free from her hands as Miss D got down to her level and suggested waving goodbye to me. One last kiss and a promise to be back soon and I was outside. I have never felt so much like my heart was being torn in half as when I saw Harper's huge eyes pleading with me through those glass doors, "Please don't leave me Mommy."

I burst into tears as soon as I turned to walk to the car.

I went to pick up hot chocolate and meet Matt's mom for the morning, knowing I would get nothing accomplished on Harper's first day of school, and not wanting to go home and cry for two hours until I could turn around and pick her up. I spent most of the time with my breath half held, waiting for them to call and tell me she was inconsolable and that I needed to come back and retrieve a child who was clearly not ready to come to school.

Of course that didn't happen and, eventually, I got back in my car and drove a long ten minutes back to school to pick up my little girl.

Harper ran over to me as soon as she saw me, a huge smile on her face, and exclaimed, "I had chocolate milk! And I peeled my orange myself! I had a great day!" And I was so flooded with relief that I almost began crying again right then and there.

As we drove home and ate lunch, these are some of the details I learned about Harper's day, in her words:

We cut out circles. I cut mine out all by myself, but a teacher helped me.

After snack time was book time.

We read Frosty the Snowman.

One of the kids is my best friend who really likes me. (Me: What is your friend's name?) I don't know.

I didn't cry at all.

I did everything my teachers asked me.

We yined (lined) up for bathroom time. Then we yined up on the wall when we were finished. Then we yined up for yeaving (leaving) time.

The number of the day was two and two. (That's twenty-two, I figured out after some discussion.)

My teacher is Miss J_. Hey! I remembered my teacher's name!

I hope we do the same stuff tomorrow.


So I think we can safely call the first day a success. As we finished reading stories tonight and I got ready to tuck Harper into bed, she had some final thoughts about school. "Mommy," she said, "I was angry when you left me at school. I didn't tell my teachers or my friends but I felt angry with you." (Oh, just go right ahead and take my heart out!) "But tomorrow I will be happy when you leave because I really like my school."

Go ahead, I'll give you minute to catch your breath.

Here's hoping for another good day tomorrow.


Jamie said...

Wow... let me clean up these tears and maybe I can coherently read the second half of that. Awesome to hear about Harper's development... way to go preparing her Mom!!!

Erin said...

SO glad it went so well, besides the tears on your part (which is perfectly NORMAL and HEALTHY-- gawd, you should have seen me on Cal & E's first days of daycare... still brings a lump to my throat).

I bet Harper's teacher is just as thrilled to have such a smart, sweet, and funny little girl in her class.

Oh, and the backpack pictures are priceless!

Giselle said...

Oh, she's so stinkin' sweet and smart! What fun you'll have hearing about all the stuff she does at school. I LOVE the "cut out by myself but the teacher helped me."

I'm glad she did so well. It is kind of nice that she reacted the way she did. Although it broke your heart, it probably made you secretly feel good that she missed you a bit. Andrew, the ultimate Momma's boy, has NEVER, not once, turned and said goodbye to me. Just runs in the door. From day one. Little booger. Couldn't he even ONCE pretend that he likes to be with me? :)

Lil Mouse said...

glad it all worked out!

Mommy Daisy said...

Wow, she looks so cute and *choke* grown up with that backpack on. I'm glad to hear she did well and had a fun day. The way you reacted and felt are the exact ways I picture myself being.

About the only time I leave Zachariah is for an hour in the nursery at church. I worry about him the whole time (and usually end up peeking in the windows), and I always ask about what he did and how he was. Come to think of it, the volunteers probably dread me. But you did great. Here's to another milestone for you and Harper.

Anonymous said...

I am glad to hear the Harper's first and second day went well. You have done a wonderful job preparing her for school. I am sure she will do great!!! Hopefully she doesn't play any tricks on her teachers...like pretending that she doesn't know her colors :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is precious. I am so glad to hear that everything went well and she will happily go back! Those pictures are priceless and I love her retell of how school was..makes me realize I should give the kindergartners I work with a little more credit. (today was just one of those days where you get frustrated with their neediness...it's hard for them too!) Good luck tomorrow :)

Oh and thanks for the bday card and the adorbale picture of Harper!!


Anonymous said...

ok...thanks for making me cry at work! And thanks for making me know that my kids are definitely not ready for school yet...yikes we have a lot to do! i know how you feel...being a working mom sucks sometimes. Max has asked me every day this week if i can stay home and play with him. Then he resorted to telling me, "i need to go in the car and go to work too." so he knew i couldn't stay home, but he figured out that if he came with me, then we'd be together. Ugggh, it's a killer!
Glad you're coping like i do...tears are a great release.
Love you,

Swistle said...

I even cry about someone ELSE'S child's first day!

Emily said...

Oh, wow. That is just so...precious. The whole thing! I can completely imagine having a similar emotional experience. Thanks for sharing it with us!