A New Day

Before it went bad
(and then good again)
As you well know given my post from Wednesday, yesterday was James’ first day of preschool and, I’m sorry to say, it didn’t start out as well as I would have liked. Or, actually, it started out fantastically, with James thrilled to be going to Pine Village, posing for first-day-of-school pictures with his “dot blanket” (which, unsurprisingly, is a blanket that has dots on it), his Monsters, Inc. lunch box (my husband refuses to acknowledge that Monsters University is a thing), and Duckie. We dropped Will off at his school (day two for him), then headed to PVP. 
Everything was fine as we pulled into the parking lot. The smile began to fade a little as we got out of the car; the look in his eyes not quite so excited as we walked into the school. We were among the first ones there (we are big proponents of getting in before the crowds of kids descend) but it was already too late. By this point he was well aware that this was an entirely new experience and that saying he was going to preschool and actually doing it weren’t quite the same thing. 
Ours is the smallest of the PVP locations, but it was a loooonnnngggg walk to classroom #3, with him clinging to my husband’s neck just a little bit more with each step. (And, for some reason, trying to hand over his lunchbox to everyone that he saw.) By the time we got to his cubby, he was in full-out crying mode. Within a few minutes, Kelley (my husband) had sent me out of the building so that I didn’t start crying, too. Because I have to say, for as much as I knew this was the right thing to do — for as much as I knew that this was a temporary state (which brought to mind the words of PVP Porter Director Morgan Antonell who at one point said something about September being the month of crying thanks to all of the transitions taking place) — my instinct was to gather him up in my arms, carry him out to the car, and say that we’d try again tomorrow. (Or maybe the day after that.) 
“Happy as a clam.”
I told myself that I’d give it an hour and a half before I called the school to check in. I mean, I’ve been here before. I know it takes some time. Yet it still took everything I had not to pick up the phone and call. But then, about ten minutes after I got home, an email appeared in my inbox. It was from the Director, sending me a message. “Happy as a clam,” it said. And there was a picture of James doing a puzzle and smiling.

There were several more emails throughout the day — a picture of James napping, a picture of the whole class at circle time, and a picture of James and Denise together, with the following note: “By the time circle time came along, he was all smiles again! I was taking a picture of a another child, and he tapped me and said, ‘How about me?’ So, here we are, smiling for the camera!” Having these little bits and pieces of the day was beyond helpful and amazing. I can’t thank Denise enough for thinking of us and keeping us updated. I’m sure that we weren’t the only ones she was in touch with. It was just another one of the many reasons that we love PVP so much.  
When I went to pick him up, I had hoped that I’d have a little bit of time unobserved to watch him in the playground. Even though I felt so much happier after all of the notes, I wanted to see him for myself. Had he made friends? Was he connecting with his teachers? Was he too shy due to the newness of it all to start to make his own way in his new place? He saw me drive into the parking lot (or, I should say, he saw Lucy in the front seat — “Luce!!!!!!!” he yelled across the patio), so I thought that I’d have to wait another day to see how he was fitting in. (Although I have to admit, having him run at full speed into my arms with a humongous smile on his face was something that I would happily have happen every single day. [Good thing that Lucy stayed in the car; otherwise he would have run straight past me and into her arms. Alas, it’s happened many times before.]) 
Denise and James

But then he took me into the school and said that he had to have his snack, which, apparently, he’d been waiting to have until I got there. Lemonade, too. 

As he ate, I got more details about the day from Denise and Karina, his teacher. Being on the tinier size (his late August birthday pretty much guarantees a lifetime of being the youngest/smallest kid in his class), the other kids in his class thought he should be in with the younger toddlers. He apparently then opened up his (not tiny) mouth and explained in a very detailed way that he was three — not a baby (bringing to mind Will’s many years of yelling, “I am NOT little!”) — and that he was supposed to be in this room. Then, being used to playing with his ten- and thirteen-year-old siblings and their friends, he saw the even bigger kids (i.e., the pre-kindergartners), and took off to play with them. I guess I shouldn’t be worrying too much about his ability to make his way in the world. 
“Did you set the timer yet,
Mommy? Did you?”

It took us a full half hour to leave, during which James insisted that he had to finish his snack, play in the playhouse, and, of course, poop. I was told that I needed to put the timer on, because only then would he be ready to leave. (“Did you do it yet, Mommy? One minute. Put the timer on. PLEASE.” [It was not a request.]) And although I don’t think I’ll be able to spend that extra half hour at pick-up time every night, I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

So when we have our next drop off time, even if he cries, I think I’ll manage just fine. Because this is what I was waiting for. And tomorrow we get to do it all over again. 

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