I’ve been dreading this day since the whole parent interview, play date observation, essay writing, family photo submission took place this past January (yes this all really happened. We live in an urban area, apparently there’s a lot of competition!). I was 9 months pregnant at the time all of this was going on so I didn’t have much time to focus on the fact that my baby was going to start pre-school in the fall (which is probably a good thing)!!! Then I was blessed with a newborn and I didn’t think about it again until acceptance letters were sent out in March and we signed the contract to the school we agreed to send our daughter. Again I thought I had so much time. I mean it was only march and we still had the whole summer ahead of us. The weather turned nice, we took weekend trips to the beach, started summer camps, celebrated birthdays with friends, turned 3 and then it happened. The emails started coming from school about books to read, songs to sing and poems to learn with our soon to be preschoolers. Forms were sent to fill out with contact information, lists of the names of the kids that would be in her class and who her teachers were going to be. But still, we had the whole month of August left, there was time. More emails about how to prepare your child for the first day of school were received. Actual dates that the kids will meet each other and the teachers and parent meetings as well as schedules were marked on the calendar. Those months turned into weeks, which turned into days and here I find myself the day my baby starts preschool. Oh. MY. GOD. I feel confident (no I don’t!) that I have prepared her as best as I can for this big day. I’ve sang all of the songs and read all of the poems that she will be hearing daily, I’ve talked with her about how her day will go and what she will be doing, she’s been introduced to all of the kids that she will spend her days with and she has met her teachers, she has a new book bag and some great new clothes and shoes, she is ready.
But wait I did forget one small thing; myself! I never prepared myself for this day. There were never any emails about how to cope with your child going to preschool. I never got a list of books that I should read. I’m freaking out a little. I mean on the first day what do I do? In my head I envision me walking her in and she gives me a kiss and waves goodbye and has a seamless transition. That would be ideal right? I mean I don’t want her to cry and call out for me. But wait what if she doesn’t cry. What does that mean? I don’t want her to cry but then I kind of maybe want her to just a little. Not like “the teacher has to pry her off of me kicking and screaming” cry, but maybe a “mommy don’t leave, I’m a little scared, but I will be okay when you do leave” cry.
And when I finally do leave then what? Will she be ok? Will she use her manners? I have told her countless times to always say please and thank you. Will she listen to the teachers? Will she follow instructions? Will she miss me? Will she make friends? Will she participate in activities? Will she be scared? She will let the teacher know if she has to go potty, right? I did remember to pack a change of clothes in case she has an accident didn’t I? Maybe I should go back and check to make sure. No I better not what if she cries? But what if she doesn’t cry? Does she miss me? What if someone is mean to her? Will she stand up for herself? No one better be mean to my baby. What if she is mean to someone else? I always tell her not to be mean, but what if she is? I wonder what she is doing right now? Does she miss me? Should I call the school to make sure she is ok? Maybe I should go a little early to pick her up. – Yes these are all of the things that will be going through my head (along with a million other things!). If you have ever dropped your little one off for the first time, I’m sure all of this has run through your mind too.
I also envision picking her up and she comes running over to me and gives me the biggest hug and kiss and tells me how much she has missed me. But what if she didn’t miss me? I mean I want her to love going to school and to like her teachers. But really, what if she doesn’t miss me? I want her to grow and to flourish and to learn new things and to love school, but I still want her to miss me, even if it is just a little. Because while she is off at school with her new friends, new teachers, learning new things I will be left alone with my thoughts. I will drive myself crazy knowing that everyday that she goes to that new school means that she is one day older, one day wiser and one day closer from not being my baby anymore. It starts with preschool. Then she will be off to kindergarten. Before I know it she will be entering middle school and then high school. The hugs and kisses will be fewer and farther between. She will become too big for me to pick her up. One day she won’t reach for my hand to hold as we cross the street (my heart is breaking). She will ask me to drop her off a block from school. She will drive to school on her own. Before I know it days will turn into weeks, weeks into months, months into years and that little girl I sent off to preschool will turn into the woman I will be sending off to college.
Wow, I just totally lost it! Okay, back to present day. As I sit here envisioning all of the ways that today may turn out the only thing that I can be certain of is that I have loved this child with all of my heart since the day she was born. I would do anything for her and I will be here for her and love her with all of my heart for the rest of my life and beyond. Whether she cries when I drop her off or if she doesn’t, whether she misses me or she doesn’t, no matter what happens my arms and my heart will always be open for her. Now please let me get through drop-off without completely losing it, because while I know I will cry I don’t want it to be “the teacher has to pry me off of her kicking and screaming” cry. Now that would be really embarrassing!