Thursday, January 3, 2013

1st Day of Preschool!

When Gia went for her 2 year old check up this past summer, our pediatrician asked about our preschool plans. I told him I planned to send her in the fall, right after she turned 3. He suggested we think about sending her at 2.5 to avoid her getting bored (and thus getting into trouble) at home.
My husband and I completely trust our pediatrician. In fact, we love him. He hasn't led us astray yet. Through getting rid of pacifiers and bottles to potty training, he's been full of excellent advice that not only works, but also meshes well with our parenting style.
The moment we got in the car, we looked at each other and said, "School? Already?"  Over the past few months we discussed the idea and really, truly thought about whether or not Gia was ready. And in early December (once I got my spring work schedule) we made the decision to send her.
 Today was her first day!
Gia does well in most new settings as long as we've adequately prepared her. She loves to know whats coming next. Whether it's after her nap, tomorrow, or in a few days, she is happiest when she's prepared. (Aren't we all?)  So for the past few weeks we've been talking about school all the time. About teachers and friends and art projects and new toys and snack time. And she's been so excited.
Of course this morning Gia slept an hour later than usual. I finally saw her stirring on the monitor and I went right in to get her. We had Rice Krispies and then I let her pick out her outfit for the day. We put on her  new shoes (thanks Yadi!) and took a few pictures. 
Blurry, but still priceless!

Then we put on her coat and her backpack. 
And took a few pictures.

On our way to school, Gia was all smiles. She was excited, and she reminded me  I wasn't going to be staying at school with her. Clearly she was fine with it.
When we pulled up, reality set in for both of us. As I walked around the car to her side, I started to get choked up. Was I ready to leave my baby? Was she really ready for this? I put on a happy face and got her out of the car. She clung to me and said "Mommy, don't leave me."  It was an arrow straight to my heart. I nearly turned right around and got back in the car with her. I can homeschool her forever, right?
But, we were brave and we continued on. I carried her into school and put her down in the hallway. Gia saw her classroom and ran right in. Her teacher, Miss Mary, helped her out of her coat and together they hung it up. Then she ran right over to the sinks and washed her hands. I watched her look around the brightly colored room for a minute.  Then Miss Jean led her over the easels and set her up with some purple paint, next to her new friend Brooke. I said goodbye to her -- she barely paid me any attention -- and then I left. I actually walked out of the school and left my baby inside. 
Driving away was surreal. I was overwhelmed with emotions: excitement, amazement, sadness, and pride, to name just a few. I called Jon and we talked about Gia and how well she did and it made the moment bearable for me. No tears for this Mama!
2 1/2 hours is not really a long time but today it felt like an eternity. I meandered through Wal-mart, checking my phone every 5 minutes, just to make sure no one from school called.  They didn't.
When it was time to pick her up, I arrived a few minutes early and I peeked through the window. Gia was happily putting her coat and backpack on. A moment later the teacher opened the door and said, "Let me see who's here. I see Gia's mommy!" And with that, she spotted me and came flying through the door. She hugged me so tight and she smiled so big.
On the way home she excitedly told me she all the day's events: she played instruments (she banged a drum, she said), and she sat on the rug, sang songs, had animal crackers and juice, painted with purple, and got a sticker. She wanted to call daddy and so we did and she told him all about school too--with heavy emphasis on that sticker. To hear the pride and joy in her voice made this all so worth it.
And one more thing: when I was little my mom made me chocolate chip cookies on the first day of school and it quickly became a tradition. Every year, on the first day of school, there's always chocolate chip cookies. So, after Gia's nap today, we made cookies together, just me and my little girl.

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