Don't worry, I've stopped crying.
Sophie's first day went great. We showed up about 10 minutes early and went to her room to meet her teachers. She has her very own cubby with her name on it TWICE (isn't that amazing? Sophie sure thinks so.) I chatted with the teachers a bit and then they were both just standing there looking at me. "Oh, I am staying for a while," I said. "OK!" (Pre-school teachers are so enthusiastic about everything!!!)
"Who wants to use scissors?" cries Miss Betsy. Well, the deal was done. Sophie isn't allowed to use scissors at our house. She knew I was still there but wouldn't look at me for fear I would ruin this perfect day for her and tell her she can't use scissors. Out came the magazines and glue and she was off. I honestly can say, she did a great job cutting that magazine to pieces.
I hung around for another 30 minutes. Sophie never once looked to me for reassurance or to see if something was alright with me. She showed me the pictures after she had cut them out but that was it. Some girl was throwing a fit because she wanted the pink scissors Sophie had. Before I even had a chance to intervene, Sophie gave them to her. Then the same girl wanted fruit pictures too (Sophie scored the Harry and David catalog) so Sophie cut out several pictures for her new friend. (The new friend screamed at the top of her lungs that she didn't want THAT fruit). Anyhow, after realizing that Sophie was thriving and self managing, I decided it was time to leave. I kneeled down and told Sophie that I was leaving but that I would pick her up after lunch. She turned and gave me a kiss and said goodbye. No tears, no resistance. I let the teachers know I was leaving, then started bawling the second I walked out the door.
From the parking lot you can see into Sophie's class, so as I was pulling out, I stopped to watch her play with her friends and show her teachers the card she had made. I was so sad leaving but she was having a great time.
I came home and hung out with an uncharacteristically quiet Josie. Without her sister there, she didn't have to compete with anyone. She asked about her sister once then never asked again. For me the time was spent keeping from looking at the clock every 5 minutes. It was probably the least productive morning I've had in a long time. I paced and waited. Finally it was time to get her and the whole fam took the trek across town.
We walked in the room and she was on one of her teachers' lap reading a book. When the teacher said "Sophie, your mom and dad are here," she jerked her head up and excitement filled her face. It was such a guilty pleasure. I feel like someone who gets a puppy because it will be cute and love you no matter what. Well, she was happy to see us. I was happy to see her. She loved school and had art to bring home. I wanted to carry her out of there like a little baby. She insisted on walking. Independence is a slippery slope.
In short, everyone survived and we can't wait for next week.
My little baby is starting Pre-School tomorrow. Two mornings a week for 3 hours and 45 minutes. She can't wait! She's been counting down the days. I on the other hand, have been dragging my feet as much as possible. "Are you sure you feel ok?" I ask, then run through a list of things (sore throat, headache, stomach ache) hoping she will pick one up and run with it. In my case, it's heart ache that is making this lump in my throat.
I thought I would be so excited (and I am on some level, just not a level that is near the surface) for her to go and learn and make new friends. All of those things sound healthy. The thing is, I don't want her to be away from me. What if she gets hurt? Who will soothe her? Or scared? Or frustrated? What if one of the kids is really mean to her? Who will pinch him/her while no one is looking?
When I was first reading through the registration papers they recommend that you plan on staying with your child at school for the first month (not that you have to, just that some kids don't acclimate). I remember thinking that sounded insane. Why on earth would I pay for school if I had to be there? Now, with my little baby racing out the door into someone else's world, a month sounds reasonable.
She means the world to me and I am about to hand her over to strangers. I know this sounds so extreme but everyone has to go through it right? Kids survive and grow and move on without you. I know all of these things are rational but I can't help feeling like I am losing some of the best parts of my day by sending her away.
But, she'll come home and we'll have lots to talk about. Be sure though, that I will be quizzing her about the teachers and kids to find out if anyone was mean. This is reminding me of my wedding. We asked my brother Jesse to do a reading. If I remember correctly, it was something about honoring me and supporting me, and then at the end, he threatened my husband. Not in an overt way, but more in a "you better take care of her or else" kind of way. At the time, I didn't understand. But now I think this makes perfect sense. I am trusting you with the most precious thing, please be gentle, caring, patient, and understanding.
Most of the clan is sleeping here in our house. Eula and I are the only two awake, waiting for the entrance of 2008.
For once, I am not focused on the weight I didn't lose or the classes I didn't take. I am so filled with joy at the wonderful gift of my healthy, happy (crazy at times) family. I've struggled and felt lost in the last year. My children have been ill and I've felt helpless. I don't want to lose sight of how much I enjoy any day that we share together.
I am so proud of the things we have overcome and appreciative of the awareness I have while drinking up every minute with my loving, hilarious husband, my sensitive, imaginative, three year old and my stubborn, snuggly bull of a 20 month old.
Happy New Year friends. May it take nothing more than your everyday life to make you happy in 2008.