How it was going to go (for him and for me) was definitely uncertain.
In the months leading up to this big day, the mood looked grim.
Many "preschool preparation conversations" ended something like, "No mom, I not goin' to pre-sool... I stayin' wif you."
However, there were glimpses of hope from time to time. (Say, when I mentioned being able to play with new toys or have yummy snacks... yes, you could say I was doing all I could to "sell preschool" at our house!)
So, we did what we often do.
We posted our countdown...
and read books about going to preschool.
When the day came, Carter really acted quite indifferent about going. He asked a lot of questions, especially about me coming back to get him. But, he really seemed okay with going.
We posed for our typical first-day-of-school pictures...
and I took him to school.
His teacher helped him hang his things in his cubby,
and he excitedly put his very first "Letter Show-and-Tell" in the special preschool mailbox -- a big plastic apple container I had for letter "A." (I realize not everyone has a big plastic apple container laying around... just a reminder that I used to be a Kindergarten teacher. I'm not that weird. Well, now that I think about it, it might be a little odd even for a Kindergarten teacher to have a big plastic apple container. So maybe I am weird. Moving on.)
The time came. He was there, backpack was hung, big plastic apple container in mailbox...
time for Mom to leave.
Then you get that little twinge of "This is a first... and a last. It's exciting and emotional and a moment that I'll never get back."
Balance. It is always about balance.
What did I want to do? Well, I wanted ask him to pose with every one of his classmates, both of his teachers, and stand in front of each play area in the classroom so I could get pictures. I wanted to tear up and give him a big hug and tell him how grown up he was and how much I would miss him
But I didn't.
I took a few pictures, told him to have a fun time,
There was a moment... just when I thought he had decided preschool may not be the place for him, that he found something in the classroom. Something that I will never forget.
A little plastic green army guy.
From Toy Story.
Just like the little plastic green army guys that he'd been eying in the stores.
It was all good after that.
(Notice the army guy in his hand...)
So, he was fine with me leaving. In fact, if I remember correctly, I had to ask for a hug.
And every Mom wants that. Every Mom is thrilled when her son or daughter is okay without her... it tells her that she has done a good job at fostering independence and confidence.
(But then again every Mom has a teeny tiny little bit of her that wishes her son or daughter would show a little hesitation when she left... wouldn't that make her feel important, loved, and needed?)
A mixture of feelings.
As most milestones are.
I don't remember what I did that first morning he was at preschool. I probably did, in fact, go to the grocery store. I probably kept looking at the time to see when I needed to go get him. I probably arrived back at school 30 minutes before I really needed to be there.
After he came out, he was (and still is) very excited to see me, which is such a fun feeling. (I don't get that very often because the kids are with me so much... that whole "absence makes the heart grow fonder" thing really is true.)
He couldn't even wait to get to the car to show me what he had.
Move that big 'ole plastic apple out of the way...
"Mom! Look what I found!"
The next few weeks of preschool were a bit tougher than that first day. It was one of those, "Oh that was fun... now I can stay home with you, Mom. What? Oh. You mean I'm going back 2 times a week? For how long?"
Carter has gone to Preschool for 4 months now, and he really likes it. His teachers are great, his classmates (8 other kids) are fun, and he's learning lots of new things. I think he's decided that Preschool is pretty cool. (The little green army guys helped.)
So, "The Big First Day" came and went.
Seems like we anticipate milestones like that for awhile, prepare as much as we can, (for our kids and for us) and before we know it, the milestone has come and gone.
Now, it's just a matter of time when another "Big First Day" rolls around.