Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Kindergarten Clover

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Just before heading off for her first day of Kindergarten. She was excited and brave and had that first-time-doing-something-scary-yet-something-that-she’d-been looking-forward-to determination putting enough wind in her sails to propel her away from mama (it has historically taken very strong winds to do this). She marched off into her classroom all of her own accord, without so much as a backward glance.

A couple of you asked how I was doing with the whole transition and I admit that at this point, as she walked away, there was definitely a bittersweetness to it all. I did tear up. There was a whole scene of mamas just balling outside the classroom, peeking in windows trying to catch a final glimpse of their little ones, lest they should be transformed into teenagers by the time we returned to pick them up.

I know some parents find it really hard to watch their babies grow up, but I’ve never been one to mourn the loss of Clover‘s baby or toddlerhood. The fun of her turning into more of her own little person, has always far outweighed any feelings of wanting to “hold on to my baby” for me.

Of course I treasure each step along the way, but I also admit that with each new transition, I’m usually so relieved to be moving away from the challenges of the previous stage that I’m all about embracing the change. I know there are always new challenges, but at least they’re different and don’t wear on you in quite the same way.

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One of our ongoing challenges though has been Clover’s fierce attachment to me. All through pre-school I would have to hand her off to one of her teachers and they would hold her and divert her attention to allow me to leave. The alternative to this would be her clinging to my body and demanding that I not go.

On occasion, the hand offs would even involve having to pry her off whatever part of my body she was clinging to in tears. Though even on those days she would always calm down just as soon as I was gone and go on to have a wonderful day. This is how we did it even up to her final days of pre-school.

So, you can imagine my surprise when little miss independent marched off to class as if it was no big thing. Yes, those bittersweet tears were definitely mixed with tears of joy. I WAS SO RELIEVED. When I picked her up and she met me with “Kindergarten’s fun mom! I love Kindergarten.” Again, SO RELIEVED. She was excited about going back the next day and everything. SO RELIEVED.

Her enthusiasm lasted throughout the first week and then as the second week rolled around she was wanting me to walk into class with her to hang up her backpack and put away her lunch and as the second week went on, the leaving part got progressively harder. I left her in the teacher’s arms that Friday morning essentially in a panic, screaming for me not to go. SO HARD.

I spent my day fretting and stressing and googling separation anxiety and was relieved to pick her up and hear that she was completely fine within 30 seconds of me leaving and, as always, went on to have a great day. Though all through the long weekend there was an underlying sense of dread about Tuesday morning and all day Monday she assured me: “I am NOT going to school tomorrow.” “I hate school.”

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Sure enough, Monday morning sucked. I got up early though and mentally and emotionally prepared myself as best I could. I managed to stay calm for her (on the exterior anyway), and it took some finessing, but was able to coax her into her clothes and finally out the door and into the car through tears and resistance and proclamations of her hatred of school. I had to carry her from the car to where the kids line up and then into the classroom.

Thankfully, we managed all this without any sort of force or kicking and screaming. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it if it went that route, but I was determined to get her to school and I knew she’d be fine once I did.

Again, I handed her off to the teacher in panic mode, loudly crying as the rest of the kids sat quietly on the rug. I told her I loved her and I’d be outside the door waiting for her when school got out. Then I made my exit as quickly as I could. Nerves frazzled, wondering if this was to be our new morning routine, and if so, how would I survive Kindergarten?

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So I was there when school got out and she walks out the door and right up to me and says… “Well, that was fun.” all matter-of-fact like.

Yup, she had a great day, made some new friends and was excited when I told her I’d talked to the mom of one of the girls in her class about setting up a play date. She didn’t know any of the kids in her class going in, so I’m hoping that having friends who she feels comfortable with will help with some of her anxiety.

Thankfully, yesterday ended up being such a good day that this morning, even though there was still a bit of hesitation right when I left, felt like smooth sailin’. I’m sure there will still be rough days but I’m feeling hopeful right now.

Also, I should mention that Clover’s Kindergarten teacher is amazing (like all you would imagine a perfect Kindergarten teacher to be, actually) and she assures me that Clover is doing great and we’ll get there.

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While my nerves may end up a little worse for wear in the process, I know that she's right. And we will.

21 comments:

bonfire of my vanity said...

oh, missa, i am such a mess today this is making me cry and cry. thanks for sharing. i feel you so much. things are even more "i'm a hot sobbing mess" for me because i do mourn the loss of all the baby and toddler stuff. all day i've been all "and this was the first wonder pets video i ever let jackson watch" and stupid shit like that. sigh. parenting is hard as hell.

Jen said...

Oh, sweet! My baby is going on 15, and while I love him fiercely and really enjoy the young man he's becoming, I have moments of devastating sadness (painful nostalgia?) missing him as a baby, as a toddler barreling through every day demanding WHY?? every five seconds, that sweet, innocent time right around 7 or 8 when little boys are so adorable... yeah. I'm feeling it. Cherish every moment used to sound like a trite cliche to me... now, not so much.

Elizabeth Carrington said...

Oh right there with you. I had a very similar story with little M when she began kindergarten, The day before yesterday she begged me not to walk her in to school and let her run in alone from the water pump. I ached not to o with her, I always had, but stood there watching her go, and felt such relief that wow, she felt so confident and at ease to go it alone. Its amazing how long some phases last, and how some dig deep in your heart. I feel so sure Clover will pass through this, and why wold she not hang on to such a lovely mom as long as she can? She looks so like you: )
wishing you so well. x E

justicepirate.com said...

She is such a big girl now. That is wonderful to hear about how she did on her first day. I am glad she enjoyed it in the end and had fun!!
+Victoria+

terrallectualism said...

aw, thank you for sharing this missa. as i start to write i realize i'm all teared up and tense! like brigit, i do mourn the babyhood, but like you i also celebrate the change. but i must say that i don't think i'd have as much grace as you have shown. it says a lot about you and your confidence in clover, as well as security in the school itself. i can't help but put myself in this scenario with fern, and it truly scares me like nothing else. i wouldn't be able to walk out the door! so watching (and learning) from your experience i think will prove valuable when the time comes. congratulations on this new chapter!! and i also found myself wondering today, "i wonder what missa is doing now that clover is in school?" whatcha doin with your free time, girl?!?

moonshinejunkyard said...

you are brave, friend! you two both are doing wonderfully and i wish clover continued daily successes and joys in kindergarten. and mama some sweet free time with hopefully a light heart once that little one is well established into the new routine. i can't believe i am just embarking on the very beginning of this journey. it gives me a pang to think of this day, although a good one! Like you, i very much look forward to enjoying each new stage. for now it is hard enough to hear her cry for even a moment, i can only imagine being by her side through each new transition. sending you two lots of love.

The Muse or The Poet? said...

I had TERRIBLE separation anxiety at that age, but she'll get over it eventually. I also had the perfect Kindergarten teacher- Mrs. Starr- and that helped a lot. Having a good teacher and making close friends WILL help, I'm sure:) Also: Clover is the cutest little girl ever!

Mrs. Habit said...

I admire the fact that you tend to celebrate the milestones, and babies growing into people. I have always been cursed with a heavy sentiment that leads me to dwell on the past, and what is "gone." With my boys, as proud as I am to see them blossom, my pride is always tinged with sadness. I miss every stage. And I wish it wasn't so.

Clover is such a cute school girl. Love that shot of her and her backpack. I can't imagine how hard it must be to leave amidst tears (my boys are always waving happily as I leave!) Anyway, you're right. She will get there in her own time.

Sara said...

I'm really sorry to hear that she's had kind of a rocky time so far, Missa! It's interesting how different so many children are; my sister cried every day of preschool (as did I), but the first day of kindergarten, she walked away from my mom all cool-like -- just like Clover -- and was totally fine. I have faith that the road will get smoother and smoother for both of you. It always does. :)

xo

Valerie Fern said...

Missa,
How great to read about Clover and her (and your) Kindergarten experience. I taught Kinder for awhile when I left Sonoma County and the "right" teacher is everything! (That and a beautiful shade of Play-dough) :)
Enjoying your blogs...a big "hello" to Lucas, who is almost as good an artist as Clover, in my opinion.
Val

anne said...

i love this. so honest! even though i don't really mourn the baby/toddler age either, i do find new beginnings to be bittersweet. kindergarten is a big transition. as her teacher said, she'll adjust. i love how you said, "how would I survive Kindergarten?" it's so true! we are so emotionally involved with our children that it seems they are an extension of us.

max started at a new junior high for 8th grade on tuesday and i was a nervous wreck all day until i picked him up. having older kids is a whole new slew of worries :O drugs, alcohol, bullies, sex! anyway, be glad you don't have to think about all that yet. really. be very glad :D

Milla said...

Oh Clover! Her dear little self will get there in the end. I'm glad the very first day of school was easy-peasy for her, even if the following ones were progressively harder, because you both got a taste of her independence. Baby steps. Or Big Girl steps rather.

Alexa said...

Missa, thanks for sharing this. Just yesterday I left Lena at preschool for the first time and it was a strange feeling. We will be looking back on these days with nostalgia in a few years!

flaming hag folkwear said...

dag nabbed blogger just erased my *perfectly composed* comment!!

the cliff's notes version, then:

1. you are an awesome mom

2. the most absurdly sucky moments in parenthood (life!) are usually really really funny in retrospect

xo

Teeny said...

heeeeeeeeeee! i know this! Mia is completely going through separation anxiety at the moment. I'm glad you are being a strong mama and persisting girl, upon meeting you I got the impression that you were a lady who has convictions and acts on them. I like that! It definitely eases the discomfort to know that they're alright once we leave huh. Otherwise i'm not sure I'd be able to leave her myself! Playdates! Playdates! Yes! One sure way to boost her confidence is to have lots of playtime on her own with kids - I was worried about my son when he first started school as he knew NOONE, and they'd all gone to kindy together - so we had lots of playdates, just to familiarize. Have to say I'm glad we don't have so many playdates now. phew. You're doing great Missa. So great. xoxo

Nicky said...

Just wanted to pop in and say hi and browse a few shots! I'll come back to read soon, gotta hit the hay! Clover is adorable riding to school! Olivia started 1st grade and is actually about to go on break since we started in July. We go by trimesters, and I LOVE it!!! :D G'night!

Janet said...

missa, i know that this transition must be such rocky terrain right now, but it will even out and both clover and yourself will be on level ground in no time. my mama told me that the first year of kindergarten, every morning, i was in the teacher's lap, bawling and squalling while mama left and then, after a few minutes, i was perfectly fine and would have all the boys and girls in circle time... pretending to be their teacher and having story time. :) LOL :) I used to work in childcare and it was the same way... the little ones would cry for their mama, so tearful- eyed with not knowing what was around the new bend, but then, once they adapted to their new environment and realized just how much fun they were having with the other wee ones, they would really start to thoroughly enjoy their new daycare and the bond with their teachers and other children. i wish for a happy, fun- filled, smooth transition in the coming future, for both yourself and clover. :) i believe that all will be well :) janet

Tera said...

The photos in the post look like they are right out of a movie! Love the one of clover on a bike by the flowers. So great! Wishing her a wonderful and exciting school year xo

Andrea said...

Oh clover is just the cutest. I was a very clingy child and had a lot of trouble with school too. I'm sure it has more to do with feeling things out finding friends and things to comfort her in your absence. Moms are our security blankets. The world seems crazy without them. Thanks for sharing this btw. These pics are so adorable.

Kristen said...

Hi Missa! As a former Kinder teacher, I just wanted to tell you that of all the students that I had through the years, the ones who had the hardest times leaving their Mamas, always ended being some of my favorite students. They were sweeter, kinder and more sensitive somehow. Your sweet girl will do great!

Nicky said...

Oh sweet lil Clover! I feel for you but love how this stuff just gets easier and works itself out!

I think that because my girls, from infancy, went to the gym (Kids Klub) and Sunday School at church, it helped them to go to class with no issues. I remember dropping Elsa off at preschool (she was just about to turn 3) and she didn't even look back. I got in the car, looked over my shoulder to back out and saw her empty car seat. My eyes got a little teary and I felt like maybe I had just failed to put her in the car and she was waiting outside her door! hahah
I know Clover will do great and bring so much to her classmates with that wild imagination and playful spirit of hers! Glad it's becoming easier for you guys already... and that picture is so stinkin cute of you gals riding bikes together!!!