My Preschool Jitters And Fall Feelings

The smell of fall invokes motivating emotions in me. On the east coast it is the smell of football season, leaves changing, school starting. It always makes me want to recharge my batteries, clean my house, get a new haircut, find new recipes, exercise more. In other words, that smell inspires me to reset all my buttons and start anew. Except, now I live in LA where leaves don’t change and fall doesn’t kick in until November. Emmett doesn’t go to school and Fia’s didn’t start until this week.

From afar, I’ve been watching all the fanfare of the first day of school. Friends posting on Facebook, their kids posing with lunchboxes and backpacks. I craved that fall feeling, but it just wasn’t happening. Instead, I’ve been battling 100-degree heat in a non air-conditioned house. I’ve been exhausting the options on entertaining my kids while trying to retain my sanity. I’ve been full of anticipation for days, weeks–even months–about Fia starting a new school and our family getting a new schedule down.

Hers is a 5-day a week Montessori program. The hours are 9-2:30 with no nap. You can pick your kid up at 1 if you want to nap them, but for me, that falls right when Emmett is napping. So I opted for the 2:30-3 pm pick up and plan to put her to bed early. I am crossing my fingers that she will still nap on the weekends. That’s our time when she, Phil and I all climb in bed together. It is heaven. (Em naps in his crib still. Soon, he’ll join us.)  Trying to figure out the schedule has created a running puzzle in my mind.  I just wanted to get it underway already. 

So finally, finally today was our turn.

Last night I set my alarm for the first time since having kids. Just in case for some strange reason we overslept. Last night Fia and I picked out her clothes. We made her lunch. Phil put some stickers in her lunchbox as a surprise. I booked a sitter to watch Emmett so we could take her together. We woke to fog and a slight chill. It will burn off and heat up, but it was an auspicious beginning.

I’ve written before about how she sometimes resists change and transitions.  But we’ve been talking about how great this school is for weeks. She kept saying how excited she was on the drive. Then we parked and she said, “Mama, hold me.” My heart dropped. Here it comes. The sobs, the wails, the heartache that penetrates to my core. Phil and I held our breath.

To my relief, as we walked into the courtyard, she jumped out of my arms and went running to her classroom. She shook hands with her new teachers. They showed her where to hang up her jacket, where to put her lunch box, where to keep her snacks. She followed them around with all the glee and giddiness of a preschooler.

I now know I’ve been more anxious than anyone. No surprise. Aren’t we always?

After about 30 minutes watching, Phil and I decided to leave. We hugged her goodbye, she hugged us back, and that was it. Except, I couldn’t just leave. I went back and peeked inside. She was happily playing at a table with her teacher.

Back in the car Phil said, “It’s crazy–growing up. And that it’s our job to make them independent of us.” I nodded. It is bittersweet, but more sweet.

Now I sit, alone, at one of my favorite cafes. I was ravenous and ordered a huge breakfast. My body exhaled. Fall has officially begun, and I feel it, even if the temperature and the air tell a different story. Even if summer shorts are worn in place of fall flannels. It feels good. Really good.

 

 

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