Today was the first day of school. Granted, it’s pre-school, but still – it’s the first time ever that the little Q was away from my side for more than a couple of hours.
It was my idea – between the dog pizza, the ideas song and all manner of other things, I figured he was bored. And as an only child we wanted him to begin socializing before it was too late and we ended up with the strange, squirrely kid who sits at the back of the room, silently plotting how to make a coat out of the skins of those present.
So it was off to school. And not just any preschool mind you, a Montessori school. This decision was made for the same reasons above – teaching him, and doing it at his pace, based on his interests, seems a far more suitable arrangement than any other option.
He was excited – so much so that simply speaking his name once at 6:30 in the morning brought him awake, wide eyed and ready to roll. “Mama, is it time to go to school?”
The next 45 minutes I was hard pressed to get him dressed enough to attend – he would have happily trucked off in his Spongebob underpants, but I finally got the squirming starfish into clothes, and grabbed the lunch he’d helped me pack the night before. (See? Sometimes I can plan ahead like a good Mom!)
And I stalled. I was presentable – dressed, minimally made up, hair and teeth both brushed. But I had the first day jitters. I felt that for the first time I was going to be judged. This was my first real parenting audition and I had stage fright.
One the drive out, I stressed internally while I kept up a happy chatter with my little, who was visibly tired. In part because he’d woken an hour and a half early, and we hadn’t tucked him in the night before until 10:30 (cause for award nomination!). I was sure that somehow the teachers and other parents would know that I had already failed by not making sure the little had an appropriate amount of sleep.
We bundled out of the car, and I deliberately dawdled with him as we approached the building, because I didn’t actually know where we were going. This would be on account of me missing both the open house months earlier and the parents meeting last week.
So I feigned interest in the little stream we crossed so that the parents approaching from behind could pass and take the lead – and I graciously thanked the man who held the door for use. And that was the last time I felt I’d held my own…once inside I took a look at the door holder – a very well turned out Indian man dressed in some seriously expensive, well draped clothes. He was the only Dad, the rest of the drop off parents were Moms – and every one of them an LL Bean catalog walk-off.
Well, clearly I don’t look the part. Jeans and Birkis and an old black short trench (it was raining!). I do not own a single item that could be described as “khaki.” Strike one.
Not me, but the hair color is correct.
So there’s another strike.
Also not me, but a face piercing is a face piercing.
And a face piercing doesn’t appear to be a Momish thing.
So, utterly out of my element, I tucked Q’s bag into the cubby and noted that every other cubby sported two accessories his does not – a pair of slippers and a re-usable water bottle. Ahem. Perhaps I should have skipped work to make that parent’s meeting.
I take him in while the other kiddos are getting their scuffies on, we tour the classroom, checking out the potty, the pet bird and all the toys and books. And of course, meet the teacher for the first time. I ask about the water bottle and the scuffies. Yup. Required. Awesome.
And then it’s time to go. Some of the other kids are clingy, a little crying going on. My kid? “Go now, Mama. I’m busy.” He was scooping birdseed from one container into another at a low table.
Hmmm…points for a well- adjusted kid? Or more strikes for him not loving me so much he cries at the thought of being without me.
So I give him a from behind squeeze and start to walk out. “Mama, wait!”
I turn around to see my little flying at me, arms outstretched. “Kiss!”
I give him the kiss and another hug and he turned around and raced back to his project. And that? Ripped my guts out a bit. Somehow it was worse to have him walk away from me than it was to walk away from him. So I went out in the car and cried a little on the drive home.
And all day, while I worked I thought about him, and on the breaks when I went out to get more coffee, I missed him flying at me for just one hug before I went back to continue working.
Daddy picked him up, in shorts and a ball cap. Daddy didn’t have my jitters. But he got his gut shot too. He asked Q about his day, if he had fun, if he made friends.
“I had fun, but I cried a lot.”
And why did he cry?
Because he missed us.
Maybe we’re doing ok.