Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Welcome to Preschool — It's Big Boy Time

With school back in session across the continent, now seemed a perfect time to pause for a moment and reflect on the first day of class and specifically the act of leaving one's kid at school for the first time.

No doubt the first day of kindergarten is a more time-honored benchmark than preschool but the latter proved to be its own moment for Mrs. Blackwell and I.
We warned him it was coming. 

We were warned that that leaving the boy those first few days could be difficult, if not gut wrenching. As the first day drew nearer, I imagined how it would go.

While the particulars differed, the hypothetical played itself out similarly: the boy, his eyes red and filled with tears, desperately cleaved to his mother or myself as he fought with all his might to not be left at school.

This expectation has plenty of precedent to draw from.

Other parents have relayed to us their guilt-ridden, nightmarish stories of their child crying and throwing abject fits the moment their parents tried to leave them at school for the first time.

I'm no different.

On my first day of preschool, I recall waving from a second-story window to my mom as tears rolled down my cheeks. She was getting in her car on the street below. She waved back and I continued to cry. Years later mom told me how painful that moment was for her — and she had to do it three separate times, once for each of her boys.

Having one's child upset to see you go is sad, yes, but it's also affirming. It's proof that they need you, they love you and they don't want you to leave. It's a good sad because you'll be back for them.

Of course all of this is far from your thoughts as your kid is having a breakdown at your feet.

So this had the potential to be amongst the most traumatic of our parental endeavors. When the day finally came, I was prepared for the pain. I was ready for the tears — the boy's and, possibly mine.

We got off to a strong start that first morning as he woke with a flourish of smiles, laughs and general cooperativeness through his morning routine.

Mrs. Blackwell drove the boy to school and I followed in my car.

As we drove, I wondered what would the boy's response be to this strange new building, this new routine, these new classmates and new teachers?

Shortly after our arrival, we had our answer.

I parked beside Mrs. Blackwell, hopped out and unstrapped the boy from his car seat.

Target: yet another place the boy doesn't mind leaving his
parents in his dust. 
As I did, he chatted and smiled. His great mood continued, but for how much longer?

As we made the short walk into the building, he walked in between us, holding our hands. We opened the front door and, like so much else with kids, his reaction was unexpected yet completely predictable.

The boy walked in and left his parents standing in the foyer like a couple of chumps. In a moment he was making himself right at home. There was no hesitation, no pausing to take in the scene and no doubts. He was off.

Less than 20 seconds after entering his new classroom, he noticed an alphabet decoration hanging from the wall.

"Can I sing the letters?" he asked with a smile.

And with that I gave a wave of my hand said, "Goodbye," and made a beeline for the door. There was no point hanging out any longer. The boy had made his statement — with an exclamation point — so why bother sticking around?

That's a question I'll have to ask Mrs. Blackwell. Being the mom, she lingered for a while longer making sure that every little item was in order, every detail attended to.

When she did leave, there was no breakdown, no tears of any kind — from either of us.

No comments: