I decided it was time to put E in a school setting so I chose a Parent's Day Out program at a church not far from our house. I refer to it as school to keep things simple.
Wednesday was his first day to go. Here he is getting ready in the morning. He loves to carry around his new nap mat, lunch box and backpack.
My sweet friend Meghan put his name on his nap mat, and it looks wonderful! Chris, E and I played with the nap mat for several days, showing him how to lay on it and pull the built-in blanket over him. He seemed to like it, but I couldn't imagine him sleeping on it at school since he is in a crib at home.
So we packed up the car and headed to school. I was feeling nervous, but I was happy with his very small class size. I had no idea what he was going to think when I dropped him off. We went to his room and stood in the doorway talking with his two teachers. They don't have parents in the room. There is a half door and you just hand the kids back and forth. It's nice to not disrupt the other kids who are already there. I talked with his teachers for a minute, reviewed everything I brought for him, and then one of the teachers said, "well, okay." She took E from me and walked away. There was an office person there with me, and she and I turned to head back to the office. I could hear E starting to complain, but thanks to the chaos of other kids arriving, it was drowned out pretty well.
The nice office person started telling me that I was welcome to call as many times as I needed to during the day to check on him. She said they understand how difficult it is at first, and they have seen it all. One mother cried for two hours in her car in the parking lot because she couldn't leave. The office person also told me they would all be praying for me and E during the day, and she wanted me to know he was loved. The more nice things she said, the more I felt tears welling up in my eyes. It was like she was coaxing it out of me with her sincere niceties. It was at that point I realized I needed to flee and quickly. She asked if I wanted to come into the office for a cup of coffee so I didn't have to be alone, but I quickly said no thank you and ran for the door. About the time the cold air hit my face it was already wet with tears. I really couldn't help it. It felt like they just burst out. I sent Chris a quick text to let him know it was done, and that I didn't back out at the last minute, and I let myself cry all the way home. All 4.5 minutes of the drive home. Then I resolved to be very productive without E, and I was. I got quite a bit of work done, laundry going and the kitchen cleaned from breakfast.
Around 11:30 I got an itch to call to check on him, but I stopped myself. If they told me he was having a rough time what would I have done? Felt horrible until I picked him up? I pushed through my itch and didn't call.
Then came 2pm. I pick him up at 2:30pm, and when 2pm rolled around, I was making up things to do so I wouldn't get in the car to get him. I even caught myself looking at photos from the morning of him on my phone. By 2:14pm I was in the car and closing the garage.
When I arrived at his room, I could hear him protesting something. His main teacher was in the doorway handing off another kid. She bent down and up came E. He was wanting her to hold him, and I spotted him before he saw me.
He caught my eye as the other kid left, and he belly dove out of the teacher's arms toward me. Then he started crying and yelling. I imagine it was a string of curse words that ended in "I can't BELIEVE you would do this to me!" When they handed me his backpack, E calmed a bit and started saying, "go, go." Go, go. Go, go. Go, go. Go, go. Go, go. I think he was ready to go home.
His teacher reported that he did "pretty well" for it being his first day to be anywhere. He didn't eat the food I sent him, but she did get him to drink all his milk. During the afternoon playtime in the gym, he mostly sat in her lap and watched. By this time in the report, there was another family behind me, and E was still saying "go, go" loudly and nonstop. So I thanked her and told her we would see them Friday.
I put E in the car and the yelling started again. Not crying, but true protesting yelling. Again, I imagined it to be a string of curse words with interjections like, "and then they wanted me to sit in a CHAIR BY MYSELF." And, "that kid wanted to hold the ball I was PLAYING with." And, "WHAT DID YOU DO WITHOUT ME?!?" "You better not have gone to TARGET!" "Did you know other kids eat cheese slices for lunch?!" "I LOVE CHEESE!"
So I let him yell at me all 4.5 minutes home. We arrived home and he immediately began saying "chair" for his highchair. I pulled out the food he had not eaten for lunch, and he had a 3pm snack. He continued to tell me about his day, but in a more pleasant tone.
After his lunch/snack, he seemed happy and played the rest of the day like nothing had happened mostly. I found the update note in his backpack, and it showed that he had slept from 12-1:10pm. I couldn't believe it, and I was so happy to know this. He was more than ready for bedtime, but I was happy to know he had some sleep to support his day.
I'm expecting Friday to be worse now that he knows what happens when we go to school, but I'm praying that after a few weeks, he will start to enjoy it and not curse at me...as much. Fingers crossed.