"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

preschool diaries: welcome to the oaks

Last night was a sad night in our house. And this morning was a Very Sad morning. There were lots of tears, lots of times when a skinny four-year old body crumpled to the floor awaiting the Mommy to come and scoop him up and reassure him, lots of "But, [sniff] I wanna stay home with you and Max!"'s, two nervous tummies, and lots of holding back grown-up sized tears.

And then, after a seemingly endless sad morning, it was time to go to school.

So two little boys put on their Brand New Big Boy Shoes, one little boy put on his Brand New Big Boy Backpack, and the three of us braced ourselves against the torrential downpour as we hurried into our car...I mean, VAN.

(Our pre-preschool photo shoot. The first shot was natural, then I tried to make him laugh.)

(and succeeded.)

When we arrived in the Outstanding Oaks classroom, I showed Evan over to his cubby, where he would keep his things. As I was balancing his backpack, raincoat, and lunchbox on his tiny, crowded-by-other-backpacks/raincoats/and lunchboxes-hook, he stood close to me, one hand on my shoulder, eyes peeking around the room.

And then he saw the Construction Center. This classroom has an area of the room that I'm pretty sure the teachers designed with Evan in mind. There are blocks, a fully-stocked tool bench, construction trucks of every job imaginable, a castle building set, a Lincoln Log building set, a marble maze, and various other tool/construction/building materials and toys, including doll houses and "family" transportation vehicles, like an airplane ("for vacations") and a van with a roof that pops up ("for camping"). Doesn't get much cooler than that. (Although, with a mother like me, I'm not sure how he knows what "camping" is.)

"Um, while you're doing this.....can I go play?" he said.

"Are you sure you're ready?" I asked....

"Yup!" And he was off.

He wandered around for a bit considering the blocks, and then the tool bench, and then the building set, but not choosing anything in particular. His teacher approached him and said, "Oh, Evan! I love your shoes!" (Brand new black and white Converse Low-Tops that he picked out all by himself. Love that kid.) "I have some just like that at home," she continued, "Can we wear them on the same day and be twins?" And he looked at her with his eyes twinkling and a smile peeking out of the corner of his mouth.

I chatted with his teacher for a minute while I watched him navigate the blocks and trucks area. When he saw that another little boy had already set up all the trucks, he watched for a beat or two before saying, "Can I have the orange backhoe?" Luckily, the kid was the kind of kid who responded with a "Sure!" instead of a "No. I had if first." That could have caused a Major Setback. Instead, I watched as my Big Boy and the new friend played, independently yet side-by-side, with their trucks.

And then it was time. And so I gave a quick and quiet, "Goodbye, my love, I'll see you after school," received a teensy smile and a wave in response, and left the room with my Maxwell, off to spend a Mommy and Me morning together at a gym and art class (followed by a lunch date at Tropical Smoothie, which very well may be our new Wednesday routine).


And then there was Pick-Up. Max and I tip-toed into the room during Story Time. Evan was sitting on the carpet with the rest of the class (holding the "I love you, Evan!" lunchbox note I had written this morning). He spotted me and gave me a little grin, but didn't move, so I gave a little smile and wave and continued on through the classroom to wait in line to chat with his other teacher. After a minute or so, I heard a very familiar, Very Grumpy voice say, "I'm going home now." And then the meltdown began.

As I tried to discreetly motion him over to me with a, "Yes, we're going home now," look, his teacher began to tell me that he had fallen asleep during Rest Time (uh oh) and they had to wake him up (yikes) and that he had a "pretty grumpy" afternoon (well, they did, after all, disturb a sleeping grizzly). Evan does not arouse gently. More often than not, we're left wondering if there even IS a right side of his bed. And that's when he wakes on his own. Don't EVEN get me started on the wrath you face when you interrupt his slumber.

Evan is a highly sensitive child. (It's a technical term. I've read the book.) When he's uncomfortable (physically, emotionally, socially, medically, whatever) life isn't just "uncomfortable," it's unbearable. Transitions are really hard on him. He needs transition countdowns and verbal cues leading up to the end or start of an activity and needs some support and time to adjust in the new situation. Being awoken in a strange room, by a strange person, in a stimulating environment, with 11 other kids running around, is a big transition that is sure to make most people feel "uncomfortable." We've spent the last year starting to figure him out and finding ways to keep him comfortable in every way we can while maintaining a healthy family dynamic (i.e. he doesn't always get his way, even if that IS the only way to avoid a tantrum of epic proportions). And it'll take time for his teachers to figure him out (on their own and with our input) and it'll take time for Evan to find his place in his new classroom.

And so I know this. I know that every school year is going to bring with it a necessary Adjustment Period. But knowing that didn't make it any easier to hear Evan wail on the way home, "I don't EVER want to go back to school. EVER!" between sobs.

[heart. breaking.]

And so we arrived home, softened the afternoon with First Day of School Cupcakes and quiet time with the Wild Kratts on pbskids.org, and salvaged the rest of the day. More or less. He was able to tell us some Good Parts about his day...and didn't freak out when I mentioned going back to school on Friday.

He was asleep before 7:30 and that's AFTER his nap.

My poor baby.

Lesson Learned:
Fingers crossed for a wide-awake rest time on Friday...

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