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