"Schoolbag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning,
waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile."
My baby started preschool this week. How can she possibly
be old enough?? She's going 2 days a week all day (9:30 - 2:30). The night before , I lay out her clothes and pack her lunch. They want me to pack 2 snacks and a meal - Katie's always been a grazer so I'm not sure how this going to work. How very odd to be packing her lunch! Cheese sandwich, carrots and ranch dip... goldfish crackers... Hmmm... water, I guess. She's not much of a water drinker but I'm not sure how they'd feel about me packing a bottle of milk even with the coldpack. (I did wind up doing that on the second day and it was fine, btw.)
The big day arrives. I drag my sorry-work-nights-ass out of bed at 7:30, drink my diet smoothie, roust her at 8, get her dressed and fixed for breakfast, then roust the baby (and it goes against my grain to wake a sleeping baby), get her
dressed and fixed for breakfast, and then it's suddenly time to go. Time to go take my sweet (mostly), innocent (mostly), little (mostly) one and leave her in some stranger's care. Ack!
All dressed up - heading to the car. We're both (slightly shakily) optimistic. She just so darned cute. I'm a little frustrated that the nametag they want her to wear won't stay stuck.
We had to wait outside for a few minutes among a crowd of other excited/nervous/anxious kids/parents/grandparents/caregivers. They don't open the doors until 9:30.
She knows several of the kids in her class from various town toddler classes, etc. She's ever so calm as we sign in, hang her backpack and her lunch up, show her the bathroom. One little girl, whose mother has already left, is sobbing and won't be consoled even as Katie tries to hug her. (The girl's brother, a year older - thus having a year of experience under his belt, has clearly already written her off and is off playing with friends from the last year.) Katie gets distracted by a puzzle. I ask if she has to go to the bathroom before Mama leaves. Nope. Ok, then, I guess we need to go now. I'm ok. I'm not crying. A bit shaky but not crying. John and I and the baby leave without fanfare and head to our cars. One mom who left after us and who is a family friend said, "she looked around at where she last saw you and said 'Mommy? Daddy?!', then looked around the room and said it again, more anxiously, then turned to me and said 'pick me up?'" Her daughter is a first year too.
"...I watch her go with a surge of that well-known sadness
and I have to sit down for a while..."
I was ok during the day though it was rather surreal. I got some work-work done. I took care of the baby. The time to pick her up came quickly. We got there a couple minutes early. All the kids were playing outside and we had to walk around the playyard to get to the pick up gate. She didn't notice at all, so engrossed was she! Ok, now the tears really did threaten. I was pretty choked up.
"... the feeling that I'm losing her forever
and without really entering her world..."
"...Then when she's gone
There's that odd melancholy feeling
And a sense of guilt I can't deny...
I was going to be this great mom whose kid could read and count before preschool, the one whose kid spoke German as well as English, etc. God, where does the time go?
"Well, some of those we did, but most we didn't,
and why I just don't know.
... Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
And save it from the funny tricks of time, slipping through my fingers..."
Labels: Katie, kids, preschool