A lot of you have probably seen my photo about Kaitlin's first day at "school" on Facebook today, but I had to write a full post or else I will forget all the gritty details in the far future (like, next week). Today she started Day School, a program at our church for kids from birth to Pre-K. At her age it is pretty much a glorified Mother's Day Out program, but they do have a curriculum that they follow for each age group and they work on key developments and milestones, so I call it school. She is going twice a week for 5.5 hours a day. We decided to put her into "school" at this young age because a) mama needs a break and b) we wanted her to be around more kids her own age on a regular and consistent basis. We usually have a play date or two each week but often times its only for an hour or two and they are random, at best. And now that I am working more she is at home more with a sitter, and this will get her interacting with children her age. She is in the "Bears" class which is 12-17 month olds and pretty much the cutest thing ever.
The day started off...rough. She didn't get a full twelve hours of sleep like she normally does and woke up with her cranky pants on. By the time she had breakfast I knew that today was not going to be a huge success. Maybe she could feel my stress - babies are sneaky like that. She was already tired by the time we left for school and she still had another 3-4 super stimulating hours ahead of her. Before we left the house I was able to snap a *few* "First Day" photos in front of the house. I was lucky to get her to sit still let alone look at the camera, and most times that she did she did not look pleased.
We visited her classroom last week and met the teachers. She clung to me the whole time but was ok about being there, she played with the toys and didn't cry too much. Today was a different story. I'm pretty sure she was the first one to start crying and probably the only one who was SCREAMING when I had to finally leave the class and let them get on with their day. She and I both had tears running down our face - no one wants to leave their child when they are screaming and crying, even when you know that they are in great hands. It was all I could do not to run back into the room and scoop her up in my arms. Instead I walked straight to my car and drove away. It was the best thing for the both of us.
If your child is inconsolable and cannot be calmed down then the office will call you to discuss how you want to proceed - a special soothing tactic, pick them up early, etc. I held my phone tightly in my hands for the next thirty minutes, checking the screen every ten seconds to make sure I hadn't missed their call. Miraculously they never called. I had an appointment that took up the rest of the school day and I was grateful for the distraction. I knew that she would have fun playing with the toys, the other kids and on the playground but it's hard to get a good feeling about the day when when you left them it was so bad.
I raced to pick her up and when they let all the parents in the room to greet their children I looked around and Kaitlin was nowhere to be found! She wasn't by the books or the balls or at the kiddie table. I'm not going to lie, I got a little panicked. Where was she?! Well, wouldn't you know - the girl that doesn't sleep ANYWHERE except in her crib/PNP was laying on the floor sucking her thumb, trying to go to sleep. The classes are shortened this week to help with adjustment so a nap wasn't on the original schedule. Apparently all of the kids were tuckered out and they had to take a short nap. She slept for 30 minutes (On a mat! In a room with 7 other kids! With her SHOES ON!!!) and clearly that was not enough.
She cried when she saw me (she does the same thing sometimes when I come home from work and she's been with a babysitter, it's almost like she forgot that she missed me and all of a sudden remembers when she sees me again) and I scooped her up and gave her the BIGGEST hug and a million kisses. We said goodbye to her classmates, thanked her teachers and headed out to the car. It wasn't picture perfect but it could have gone A LOT worse.
Everyone tells me that this will get easier (for both of us) with time, and I do believe them. So, here's hoping that tomorrow goes a little smoother than today!