Yesterday morning in preparation for the first day of school I woke up early and made CARS shaped pancakes. I had a vision of him happily munching his breakfast as he excitedly chatted about the day ahead. Instead he slept in, waking about an hour before we had to leave for school. He was too nervous to eat.
Although I had everything laid out, I was frantic getting him dressed. I changed his shirt three times trying to find the perfect look for the first day of Kindergarten. Worried that he was going to feel abandoned, I made a heart out of construction paper and handed it to him. I explained that he had all of my love and that I was very proud of him. If he felt alone or scared during the day, all he had to do was reach into his pocket and feel the heart to remember that Mommy will be there soon to pick him up. He quietly slipped the heart into his pocket and told me that I shouldn't worry because "I will always come back."
Robby happily skipped into his classroom, only appearing nervous when the teacher showed him his cubby. He seemed perplexed as he stared at his little storage area clearly marked with both his photograph and name. Finally in a hushed tone he asked, "How am I going to get my bum to sit into that small square?" I had to explain that the cubby was a space to store his backpack; his bum was going to sit in the chairs and rugs around the room.
After I alleviated his fears that he would be stowed in a cubby during the school day, he gave me a hug. I left him in his classroom feeling both proud of my little student and sad that my baby is gone. I cried on the drive home.
I spent the next three hours trying to keep busy as I worried about Robby. Was he having fun, or was he crying? Not knowing how he was adjusting was hard!
As it turns out, Robby did not have a good first day of school. With his arms clung tightly around my legs, his teacher told me that he was emotional. Although he never cried, he fought tears throughout the day. As soon as he saw me the flood gates opened and he began to sob. He reached into his pocket and handled me the paper heart, crumpled from being held during the day.
I carried my inconsolable little guy to the car, hugging him tight and reminding him how proud we are of him. He begged me to "never ever make me do that again" and simply began to cry harder when I tried to assure him that he would have a better day tomorrow. I felt like a maternal failure!
As promised, we stopped by Mr. Bill's house (our neighbor) on the way home. Gnawing on bricks of cheese and eating crackers, Robby began to talk about school. Despite the flood of emotions and difficulties separating, Mr. Bill managed to convince Robby to give Kindergarten another try.
Throughout the evening Robby began to talk about some of the positive aspects of school. He apparently enjoyed recess, and his teacher "reads a pretty good story" in the morning. We tried to direct all school conversation towards the positive experiences instead of lamenting that he missed me.
This morning, I'll reheat the CARS pancakes. I will send him to school with a new, laminated heart in his pocket. Mr. Bill has promised another cheese and cracker picnic so that Robby can tell him all about school. I'm hoping that today is a better day!