Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Tristan's First Day of School

Today did not go as I expected it would.  Well, the part where T went to school without a problem and had a good time did, but the rest did not.

We got off to a bit of a rocky start.  Due to a random bug in T's bedroom incident last night, he ended up going to sleep later than usual, probably around 9:30.  Then he was up at 6:30am, which is very early and also very unusual for him.  So he started today off with a short night, which isn't that great.  Otherwise though he was in good spirits and excited about school.  He ate a good breakfast and was happy to get dressed and out the door.

I'm ready to go!

C'mon already!

Since we were not in a rush I figured I would let him walk instead of putting him in the stroller.  It took about 20mins for us to walk there at T's pace, and while we walked we talked about school, about his teachers, and about all the new friends he would make.  I told him when we got there I wanted to take his picture and give him a hug and a kiss before he went in.  He proudly announced to anyone who passed that he was on his way to school.

On our way

As we neared the last block before the school he exclaimed excitedly, "There's my school!  There it is!"  I could feel my heart beat faster and my stomach in knots.  We approached the gate and he could see all the other children in the yard.  I tried to get him to stand still for a picture but he just wasn't having any of it.

Bye Mom!

And just like that he was off.  No hug, no kiss, no bye mom, no turning to wave.  He didn't even look back.  I hovered for a few minutes to see if he would look over, but he didn't.  Reluctant to leave, I finally set off back home with F in the stroller.  I shed a tear or two.  Only a few.  Mostly I was disappointed that I didn't get a good picture of him.  He just couldn't wait to get past the gate and into that yard with the other children.

I moped back home but as I was about halfway there I looked down and remembered F sitting there in the stroller.  I was thankful that I had decided to leave the double stroller at home, as I don't think I would have wanted to see the empty seat as I pushed it back home again.  I remembered that it was now time for F to have some special Mommy time, something he has rarely gotten in his short life.  We had a really lovely morning at the EYC, and he seemed more relaxed and confident knowing he had me all to himself.

Come time to pick T up from school there was a little mix up on my part.  I thought pick up was at 11:45, but it was actually at 11:30.  I can't describe how awful I felt, thinking about him there waiting for me while all the other kids got picked up.  It made me sick just thinking about it.  He was fine though, waiting patiently with his teacher for me to pull up.  As soon as I ran in to get him he couldn't stop talking about his day, it was hard to get him to stop long enough to say bye to the teacher and he was still chattering on about it as we walked down the stairs and out to the car.

All in all he did wonderfully at school and it seemed like he really enjoyed it, which is more of less what I expected.  It was the rest of the day that came as a bit of a wake up call for me.

We went home and had lunch at our usual time.  From that point on I figured it would be just like a normal day, we were right on schedule for lunch and naps, and I figured T would likely be very tired from such an exciting morning, not to mention his short night last night.  He seemed quite wired through lunch though and even afterwards.  I put F down for his nap, and that is when I made the second big mistake of the day.

Not taking into account the fact that T was probably still overwhelmed and excited from the morning's events, and thinking I needed to get him into bed for a nap asap, I kind of rushed him through his normal wind down when he clearly wasn't ready.  I didn't warn him before turning off his tv shows that he usually watches while I put F down, and he was antsy while we read our books.  When I took him up to his room he was crawling the walls and not ready to sleep.  He kept getting more and more upset.  I was beside myself, this was so not like him and I was not expecting it nor did I know what to do.  Eventually I brought him back down and gave him some quiet time on the couch.  He did end up lying down and dozing off for a few minutes once he realized how tired he was.

I was completely taken aback by this turn of events and spent most of the afternoon in tears with him, mostly because this behaviour was so unlike my angel child and I was terrified that him starting school, and even worse my not being there to pick him up, have had damaging effects on him.  I couldn't stop all the thoughts running through my mind about him being completely uprooted by this change and thrown way off track for who knows how long.  I wanted my happy toddler back, the one who went down for naps and bed no problems and had to be woken in the morning.  I was scared that this nap refusal would lead to bedtime refusals, night wakings, waking up early, and then spiral into overtired toddler land.  And for what?  To put him in school one year early?  I already wanted to go back to how things were with him at home with me, things were just so perfect that way.  We had such an amazing routine.

But in my heart I know he needs to go to school, and that he wants to be there.  I know it is the right thing for him, and that he will learn more there than he ever will from me.  I also know that he will adjust, that we will all adjust, but that it will take some time.  I grossly underestimated that such a big change would have an affect on him, but really how could it not?  It is a HUGE change!  I figured my angel child who always rolls with the punches would just do as he always did and go with it, unaffected.

The other thing that worried me is how he will fare while he is at school.  The teacher called me this afternoon to follow up with me, and while everything she said was positive it really hit home for me now that he is in a new environment with new people, and they will be influencing the kind of person he is from now it.  It also made me worry that somehow my parenting will be judged as they assess what kind of person he is.  I know he is only three, and has never known an environment other than those he has been in with me, so he will have to learn how things work at the school.  But I just have these visions of him trying to do whatever he wants there and getting frustrated when he is taught he has to do things a certain way.  Not that we let him do anything he wants at home, but I do know there will be more rules and boundaries there and I'm scared they will think he is bad if he doesn't want to follow him.  I know he is such a good natured and sweet boy, I just hope he adapts to the way of life there.  I know it is good for him to be there and learn those things, probably because we are more relaxed at home and he needs that kind of structure.  I just couldn't help but feel in some way that my child, and my parenting, were somehow being judged.  I want everyone to view him as wonderfully as I do, and I am scared for the times when he may not been seen in that light.

This is just the softy mom talking though.  The reality of it is they are not judging or criticizing him, and they probably do think he is a lovely boy.  They also know that he is young and that he will learn in time.  That is what they are there for, to teach and guide him.  I know that I need to relax, as it is only the first day and he cannot be expected to know what is expected of him right away, he needs to learn that stuff while he is there, and he will.

So overall today was not at all how I envisioned it would be, and in all honestly has left me an emotional wreck.  Even despite his lack of a nap, T was still not in bed any earlier.  We tried, and it took extra long to get him to settle down.  I am hoping, and crossing all my fingers and toes, that this adjustment period will not be too long, and that his sleep will not be too adversely affected.  He was such a good little sleeper before, I cannot bear to think of him not getting the sleep he needs anymore.

I'm trying not to dwell too much on today, and think positively about this whole experience.  Today was just the first day, the first of many.  I'm sure they won't all be easy but I'm sure there will be lots of amazing ones too, so I just need to keep my chin up and know that it what is best for him and that he truly will benefit from his experience at school.

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