Our first day of school…
My daughter, who I have coined Ms. Prissy, is attending a new school for first grade. Throughout the summer, she was anxious about leaving her former school and making new friends. So, as the pre-emptive woman that I am, I went into overdrive to get her prepared for what I knew would be an emotional experience for her. I made play dates with her future classmates, she chose a new book bag and lunchbox for the occasion, and we visited the school together a few times and even met her new teacher before the first day.
And then it arrived.
We ate breakfast together, got dressed, and sat down to do my daughter’s hair. In her timid voice, she whispered, “Mom, I am scared.”
“I know, baby,” I said calmly. “ It’s natural to be scared before starting a new adventure. Or doing anything new. But you will be fine and make a lot of new friends. I am sure in a few weeks, you will love the school.” She gave me a hug and we headed out.
My aunt came along for the ride to drop Ms. Prissy off for her “big day.” As we drove, all seemed fine. But when we arrived and parked the car, Ms. Prissy emphatically declared, “I am not getting out!”
I calmly went to the passenger side and opened her door. Kneeling at her seat, I gave her another reassuring hug. “Honey, it will be okay. “ I am here and Auntie is here. We are going to walk in there together.” She got out of the car apprehensively.
As one of the first families to arrive, my daughter’s teacher personally showed her where to place her book bag. I thought this would be a good time to make my exit. I gave her another hug and announced, “It is time for me to go, baby.”
And as my body shifted to leave, she dug her razor-sharp nails into my arm and commanded, “No, you aren’t going.” I looked up for her teacher for help, but she was welcoming another family that had just arrived.
“I have to go.” I said. “ You will be fine”
“No, Mom, no” she pleaded. Then the tears began to pour. She pulled both my aunt and I to a corner, positioning us like a shield between her and the class. I tried a desperate tactic. I started pointing out books on the shelf that we had at home.
“You know all these books.” You will love it here,” I said. But my daughter was focused. Focused on me leaving and new children flooding the room. As her tears continued to stream down her face and I kept up my measly attempts to reassure her, it happened. My eyes began to swell up and my strong front was broken. I began to cry.
Some other parents saw the emotional scene and came over to welcome us. One mother began patting me on the back and reassured us both.
“It is going to be okay. Your daughter will be fine here.”
I wanted to scream out, “ I am not that mother!” But I could not get it together to save my life.
When did I become the crying parent at the school drop-off? This whole time I thought I needed to be preparing my daughter for her first day jitters. It turned out, I failed to prepare myself for feeling inept at helping my baby when I am unable to make it all better with Mommy’s words, kiss or hug.
I wiped away my tears as the teacher came over to help diffuse the situation. She told me I could sit outside and get a coffee.
Ugh! I couldn’t hide my embarrassment no matter how hard I tried. But I managed a weak goodbye and left.
My daughter made it through the day and she now loves her new school.
And I got schooled, too. I will no longer judge all those “hysterical” mothers because I know now that I am one.
What am I going to do when it’s my youngest daughter’s turn to go to a new school? Somebody send me a box of tissues and an Ativan.