My day started out sad today. No, I take that back, it started out with Hannah running into my room with a very serious look on her face, climbing onto my bed and saying, “Mommy. I have a cough. I think I must have bronchitis.” My five year old is a hypochondriac. But AFTER the sickness shenanigans, it was sad. While Luke and Hannah sat in the family room watching their normal morning shows, I packed Luke’s lunchbox for the first time. He has a Cars lunchbox. I packed his lunchbox full of things he normally eats happily at home but I had no idea if he’d eat them at school. Sitting at a little table with other not quite two year old kids, in a chair. I couldn’t picture him removing the turkey slices from the container himself. I tried to picture him eating his yogurt with a spoon without someone there to guide it to his mouth. I heard him laughing in the family room at Wow Wow Wubbzy and I just hoped and hoped that his laugh would remain.
School. It was Luke’s first half day at school. I walked in and greeted the same teachers that Hannah had at that age, and I watched Luke roam around, pulling things off of shelves, looking in all of the bins, checking out his classmates, but always looking back at me to make sure I was still there. Where he expected me to be. His teacher said, “So, tell me, what’s he like?” I hesitated for a minute and then I said, “He thinks he’s Super Man. Watch out.” The teacher started laughing and asked what I meant and at that moment we turned to look at him. He was standing on the center of the lunch table, both arms in the air, and saying, “Ta Da!”.
“There you go.” I said shaking my head. “He’s a climber, a jumper, a runner. Really, just give him a cape and some tights and he’ll think he’s off to save the world.”
We went through the motions to get him to understand what was ok in the classroom and what was not (climbing up the slide and RUNNING down it, for instance). I smiled watching him becoming a little comfortable with the space. And saddened as he ran to the door, wanting to leave. It was time. I had to let go… let him go. The teacher took out an enormous jar of bubbles that took Luke’s breath away and I decided that was my chance. He loves bubbles, hopefully more than me at that moment. I went over to him, put my arms around him and said, “Bye Bye Lukey. Have so much fun.”
The smile that covered his face seconds before, quickly fell away. He started to cry. Big elephant size tears began streaming down his face. He reached for me as one of the teachers scooped him up into her arms. I walked out and stood outside the door looking in as he continued wailing and I could read his little mouth crying, “Ma Ma”. Ouch. I inhaled a huge breath and tried not to cry. And I didn’t. I talked to myself the whole drive home, convincing myself that I’m doing this For Him. He needs this. He needs to make some little friends. School will encourage his speech development. School will help him understand some boundaries that I haven’t had luck setting. He needs this. I wouldn’t even let myself go to, “I need this.”
I wanted to call the school and see if he was still crying. I decided against it. I wasn’t going to go and rescue him if he was. I needed him to come to grips with this new part of his life. On his own.
But I felt mean. And I felt a little bit like a failure. Most moms, I thought to myself, don’t send their kids to school this young unless they are working and have no choice. I have a choice. I could have him home with me and hope that his speech improves on its own, and I can continue reprimanding him for his risky behavior myself and hope he calms down or learns before he hurts himself terribly. I could enroll him in more Mommy and Me classes (that I think we both hate) so he can meet other kids his age and I could help him learn social skills myself. Or I could send him to school. And have some help teaching him these parts of life that I didn’t seem to be doing a very good job with. And let him explore new, exciting things and make some of his own friends. And so I chose school. I chose to send my not even two year old son, who has never spent a day away from family into a new, confusing, unfamiliar place. And so yes, I felt mean.
I got home after dropping him off and tweeted that I was so sad. And arms reached out from my iPhone and hugged me, told me I’m not alone and that we’d be ok. Which I knew, but I needed to hear. And I walked into my quiet kitchen and saw his Cars sippy cup… and I started to cry. I missed my Super Man. It was so CALM in my kitchen. There were still pieces of waffle and splatters of milk scattered around on my floor. Lines of crayon were still drawn on the highchair and kitchen table. But the noise, was silent.
How many times have I begged for silence? For quiet, calm, peace? A moment to breathe? And here it was, and I was crying. How ironic is that?
I passed the next couple of (what seemed like endless) hours visiting Hannah’s future Kindergarten. I only heard a portion of what was discussed as my mind kept drifting to Luke. Wondering if he was sad still or involved in the fun. Wondering how long he cried. Wondering if his little mind was thinking of me. Wondering if he was trying to say something that the teachers couldn’t understand.
11:30. Finally. I raced to the school and peaked into the window to get a glance of what was going on before entering. And I saw him. Sitting at the lunch table. Focused on bringing the spoon of yogurt to his mouth while most of the yogurt spilled from the spoon to his lap. Taking another scoop and having the same thing happen. But he wasn’t crying. No, and he may have even been smiling. I walked in and approached his side and he looked up at me, raised his spoon above his head and said, “Ba BA!” I had no idea what the hell he was trying to say at that moment and I didn’t care because he was smiling. No tears. No red eyes. Just a smile. And I was relieved.
The teacher told me he was sad about as much as he was happy throughout the morning but was a “trooper”. She said he would sit by the door with his blankie and look out the window waiting for me. But he kept coming back to the group as if he wanted to pull himself together and join the fun. She told me he was outgoing, friendly and interested. He loved playing with the trucks and the sand table. He danced during circle time. And not even once, did he try to climb on the tables after I left.
I guess I’ll save buying him a cape for another day.