The first day of school
Lila had her first day of summer preschool today. It's just a small, 3 day a week program. Nothing to educational, it's really just to keep the kids in the swing of going to school. Some times a long summer break can make it even harder to go back to school. Especially for a shy kid, and Lila is definitely that. So Violet and I walked her into the classroom and stayed for a few minutes to play. When it was time to go, I dragged Violet out kicking and screaming and looked back at Lila. She had that look on her face like she was trying very hard to not cry. "My brave baby girl" I thought and got the hell out of there.
I'm not a cold hearted bitch you know, I've just been through this before. Two years ago, when Lila was three, she started this preschool program. I was as nervous as I could be. I couldn't get the teacher I wanted so Lila had to go in Joe's class. Joe is a great preschool teacher, but for a little girl who had only been taken care of by her mom and her Grandmother, a man teacher was going to be tricky. The first day of school came and Lila seemed eager to go to school. Her cousin Wendy was going to be in her class and that made her happy. So we got there, checked out the room and played for a bit. I finally got up and said it was time to go. I gave Lila a quick kiss and headed for the door. I was three feet away when the screaming started.
I don't know about your kids, but when Lila starts screaming or crying real hard, she throws up. So when I turned around and saw her starting to gag, I rushed over to calm her down before she could puke up her breakfast. Long story short, I spent the afternoon in the hallway outside the preschool room while Lila cried and ran to me every few minutes.
The next day, Lila was transferred to Cindy's class because Joe thought she would be more comfortable there (which is what her mother said, but what do I know?). They also separated Lila and Wendy because if one started to cry so did the other. We walked into Cindy's class and when it was time for me to leave Lila started crying but this time I couldn't comfort her and she threw up in my hands. I'm not a religious girl, but god bless those teachers. One brought me the trash can and some paper towels and said "Clean up your hands and just leave. She'll fine, really." So that's what I did. I left her there in the care of her teachers. As I was walking down the hallway I could hear Lila screaming "I WANT YOU TO FIND MY MOM!!" . I started crying and turned to run back to the classroom when another mom stopped me.
"Is that your little girl in there?" She asked me. She put her hand on my arm and slowly turned me around.
"Yes, " I said through sobs. "I really need to get back in there." I was trying not to cry. I felt like this wonderful combination of complete idiot and horrible mother all at once.
"My son had a hard time the first day, too." She said as she guided me down the hallway. "She'll be fine. The teachers here are great. She'll settle in in a few minutes. Is she your first?" The whole time she was talking to me, this mom was leading me farther away from the classroom and towards the door.
"Uh, no." I sniffed "She's,uh,I have three. But I'm a stay at home mom and Lila's never been taken care of by anyone but me. I should just check her." By now we were outside the school building.
"I think she's ok by now. Enjoy your couple of hours of freedom, it will go by fast."
We said goodbye and I walked home. When I got home I bawled like a baby. I felt so bad for leaving her there, but we had to start somewhere. If she didn't get used to this now, I'd never get her off to kindergarten.
Pretty soon the two and half hours were up and I went back for Lila. I was convinced that I'd find her in a blubbering pile on the school room floor, covered in her own vomit and screaming my name. In fact, she was standing in line with the other kids, back pack on, ready to file out the door. She made it. She was definitely tired out, but had made it just the same. I tried not to cry when she came through the door and ran to me.
That was not the last difficult day. Actually the first month was hard. The first two weeks were her crying and puking in my hands or the trash can.I'd clean us up and say goodbye, she'd walk away with her head down and settle into an activity. Oh, and lets not forget the day her nice teacher Beth crounched down and gave Lila a hug as she cried. Lila promptly threw up rice krispies in her cleavage. I scooted out the door and got the hell outta Dodge on that day.
But it got better. Every day, a little more. Pretty soon there was no crying at all. She always would rather be home with me, or course. But she had resigned herself to the fact that she had to go, so she did her best.
So that is why, when she gives me that look, the flat smile, eyes welling up a bit, a look that just screams "I'm nervous, meeting new kids is hard for me." I just smile back and leave as quickly as possible. My baby girl can do things with out me just fine. She's learning just how strong she really is.
And to that mom, the one who guided me ever so gently through the door and into Lila's independance - thanks.