I had it all planned out in my head how Collin’s first day of preschool should go. I would pick out a really cute shirt, maybe one that he got for his birthday, we would walk hand in hand up to school and I would tell him how big he is and what to expect. I figured he probably wouldn’t want me to leave and would cling to my leg, but I would tell him that mommy would be back and give his pale cheek a kiss and hold back my tears as I looked at his light blue eyes and protruding lip as he tried to be a big boy and not cry. It went nothing like I planned, except maybe the shirt part. I should have figured, Collin is my crazy kid. We never know what to expcet when it comes to him.
He started preschool a month or so ago. As soon as I found out when his first day was going to be I started drilling him on important questions that every 3-year-old should know, like name and age. Plus, this was going to be his first time away from his mama or any other adult who knows him well, so I felt these were pretty important questions to be able to answer.
“What is your name?” I asked him.
“Tree,” he said, really meaning three but holding up four fingers.
“No. That is how OLD you are. Three. When I ask you how OLD you are you say three,” I said, adjusting his fingers to holding up three, even though they kept springing back to four and five.
“Four, hive (five)!” he said, grinning.
“NO. Listen. When I ask you your name, you say COLLIN,” I explained for what seemed like the millionth time in the last couple of days. “What’s your NAME?”
“Tree,” he repeats with the finger thing again.
“NO. You say COLLIN. SAY COLLIN.”
“Tree,” he says.
We have done this many time with the same results. Over and over and over again. Really?! I could feel the frustration creeping up my back. C’mon kid, get with the program! I thought to myself.
He finally says his name, but it sounds like “On.”
I do the drill over and over again throughout the evening for the next couple of days. I have asked him so many times and keep getting the same response, I might just start calling him Tree. Oh, well. He’s only in preschool, he’s only “tree,” so I guess he will get it eventually.
The night before school I searched through the toy boxes for Bradley’s old Elmo book bag that Collin loves to wear, feeling the first day of school excitement all over again, but I started to get discouraged. I couldn’t find the darn book bag anywhere! I tossed dolls and legos and action figures and plastic kitchen food over my shoulder, digging deep into the trenches of all the toy boxes. When I was knee deep in toys and looked around at the disaster of a mess I made, I finally found it, but not in the toy box. It was laying against the wall by all of the shoes…in plain sight. Figures.
In the morning I talked him out of wearing his fireman gear for his first day of school and wrestled him into a really cute shirt.
When I first pulled into the parking lot Collin says, “Bye, Mum! Bye, Mum!” like I was just going to drop him off. Heck, I didn’t even get parked and he was already saying goodbye? At least let me pull into a parking space!
“Collin, Mommy is going to take you INTO the school. You can’t go by yourself!” I told him.
“No, Ma! I BIG!,” he pleads.
This is not how I pictured this moment at all! And all I can think of is seriously kid?! Let mommy do her job and take you to school. Usually kids cling to their mother’s legs and don’t want their moms to leave. They at least let them get in the building! He probably wanted to be dropped off like Bradley, who just jumps out of the car and says goodbye, but he is in first grade.
When I got him out of his car seat and his book bag on his back, I held out my hand. “C’mon. This is gonna be fun! Your first day of school!”
He smiled real big but wouldn’t take my hand. He can be so stubborn. When I insisted he tucked his hands under his armpits. “No, mum. I big. I do,” and he tried to walk like a big kid with a purpose, like he knows where he is going. Silly boy.
I was tempted to swoop him up and prop him on my hip, kissing his cheek and stealing hugs. But I didn’t. I let him walk like a big boy.
Every door we came to he tried to open. “This one, mum?”
“No, all the way around in the front,” I told him at least three times, after he tried each and every door.
I had him pose for a picture in front of the school. He was excited and I got a lot of cute pics, which is probably the only other thing that went how I planned for this day.
When the bell rang we walked to his classroom. I looked at the little kid art on the wall, trying to imagine what Collin may create, trying to image what kind of student he might be.
We walked into his classroom and he sat right down at a table and started coloring and was as busy as could be. He barely looked up when I said bye. I was so worried this would be a hard day for him. Obviously it was much harder for me. I walked down the hall, expecting tears. But really, I felt a sense of relief. Everything is going to be fine. He already loves it, so I love it. It just wasn’t how I expected the morning to go.
What first day of school memories do you have with your kids? Who was it harder for, you or them? Or was it relief? Because I think by the time I get kids number three and four into school, it will be sad but also a big sigh of relief. I guess in a couple years we will see.