Today was a big milestone for us. My “baby” went to preschool. Cole is a preschooler. When did that happen??? He’s there 2 days a week, 2 1/2 hours each visit, but those are 5 hours I have never had to myself before. As I drove him to his first day, Cole chattered on and on about going to preschool. He was excited to see “his” kids. He was bubbly and chatty and said he wanted to learn more “stuffs”. I took his picture in front of the school. He kind of smiled for me. He was impatient–behind the door was his long-awaited preschool class. He could not contain his excitement any longer.
We walked into the building and Cole helped me put his items where they belonged. He did it without me even having to tell him–he just followed what everyone else did. He zipped up his backpack. We walked into the classroom. He took a big look around, got a huge smile on his face, and waved to me, “Bye, mom! See you later!” Huh. That was it. Ok. I left, smiling as I did. Another mom mentioned that she was going to likely break down in her car, once she was out of eyesight. She was sending her baby to school, too. I didn’t feel any tears coming on…just a sigh of relief.
The moment, for me, was bittersweet…emphasis on the sweet. I had a little tightness in my throat and tug at my heartstrings as I thought of my youngest child in a classroom–beyond my control. It made me think about how much he is READY for preschool. How excited I am for him to learn about letters, numbers, colors, shapes, writing, math, reading, and playing with friends. I smiled as I thought of him trying to rule the roost as he does at home…and how he’s going to have to learn to share and take turns with his peers. It will be an adjustment, but he can handle it. He’s ready.
I flashed back to April 2009. We sent Tate to school, on a bus. For 2 1/2 hours of preschool 5 days a week. At age 3 and 3 days. Tate didn’t talk. Tate had an incredibly difficult time receptively understanding speech. He had sensory needs that were off of the charts. He couldn’t use the bathroom by himself…in fact, he was still in diapers. He shied away from peers, preferring to sit near teachers and adults. He was incredibly dependent. He couldn’t follow directions. He had no idea how to navigate the world. And yet, we sent him to preschool. Because it was what was needed. It was for his benefit. I cried the entire day at work in my cube..until his teacher called me to let me know he had a fantastic day.
If we could do that, I could definitely send my 3 year-2-months-but-acts-like-he’s-nine-year-old to a preschool where I can drop him off, pick him up and ask him how his day went–and know that I’m getting a fairly accurate representation of his day from HIM. We got his “Cole had a great first day” certificate and he proudly put it on the refrigerator next to Jake’s spelling test and Tate’s latest assignment from school. He was beaming as he did it.
If you’re wondering what I did with my 2 and a half hours…well, it wasn’t very thrilling, but it was wonderful. I ran errands that are impossible to do with a 3-year-old. I sat at my kitchen table with a glass of water and read the morning paper. I searched the basement and the family room for a lost library DVD (to no avail), but didn’t have anyone “helping” me do it…It was glorious. And I’m looking forward to the next 8 months of this new freedom.