Flipping through the latest issue of Parents magazine at my doctor’s office I came across the article “I survived Preschool”. It made me flashback to last August when my then two and a half year old son started preschool. I wasn’t sure I/he was ready for him to start pre-K (even though it was just two days a week). The two of us had not been apart for more than a couple of hours since he was born. Even when I went out to the stores or for the groceries it was always when he was napping and I would be back before he woke up. So of course he threw a fit during first few days of preschool. Here’s how it all went down.
Meet the teacher day: A couple of days before T and I went to meet the teachers and get our son familiar with them and the class room. He got to meet his class mates and was happy to explore while we chatted with his teachers.
Day 1: We woke up early and got ready to reach the school in time. He was quite happy to hold his lunch box with one hand and my hand in the other. I juggled his sleep mat, his folder, a set of extra clothes and my purse in the other hand.
He was quite calm going in the class but then one mom said bye to her little girl who started crying. This made him and the other kids take notice and started a chain reaction of crying and sobbing. Some of the moms were quietly wiping their eyes outside. The teachers assured me they won’t let the kids cry for more than 15 minutes.
I waited in my car, listening to the car radio, waiting for the cell phone to ring. When nobody called after half an hour, I went home. It is the longest four hours I spent waiting for the phone to ring any minute and the school asking me to come pick him up. They don’t and I am happy but feeling strange in our suddenly quite house.
Day 2: A day later all seemed well till we reached the school parking lot. The minute I opened the passenger door he started crying. I managed to walk him to the school building (teacher’s tip: do not carry him, let him walk) but as we entered the hallway he tried to run in another direction. I had to scoop him up and hand him over to the teacher. He was still crying and calling out my name when I walked out. I realized why they say parenting is tough.
I waited in the car feeling guilty and telling myself the separation is good for the both of us. I head to the grocery store after 15 minutes for an hour long, quite roaming in the aisles. When I go back after five hours to pick him up he runs to hug me, says bye to his teachers and comes away with me.
Day 3: We walked to his class holding hands but he again clings to my leg and starts crying. I have to pry him from my legs and hand him over to his teacher. After a few minutes I come back to check on him through the little glass window on the door. He is happily playing with a fire truck.
I had the whole house to myself and I sit on the couch watching “The View” and munching some potato chips.
Day 4: He held on to me a little bit but did not resist much when I handed him over to the teacher. He had some tears in his eyes but he managed to give me a hug and a brave “bye Mamma”. I was happy the crying phase was over and I didn’t have to feel guilty as much. I dared to go to the gym and attend an hour long spinning class. Back home, I took a long shower and enjoyed some quite time surfing the net before I headed back to pick him up.
Over the weekend he told me he wanted to go to back to school again. Two days later, he gave me a hug and a kiss before he walked in the class room, bravely clutching his lunch box. I knew he was going to be ok and for the first time in two and a half years I go for an unhurried three hour shopping spree and have lunch with a friend.
In the days that followed I was happy with our decision to put him in preschool. It gave me time to think of myself as more than a mom and to do things for myself. Every day for the last three months I have been happy taking him to story time at the local library, to the pool, to train rides and cycling to the park. Time has flown so fast and I am sad he won’t be there all the time in the house. But I am also happy for him to go to his preschool he likes so much, giving me some much needed time for myself.