Feeling all the feels this week!
Two more sleeps until Older goes to school. Like every parent, I can’t believe that this day is upon us so quickly.
I have mixed emotions. For a long time I’ve wanted to be the parent. I stood at my classroom door watching parents bring their kids to school and fantasied about what my husband would look like bringing our children to school. I imagined him hand in hand with a little girl…apparently I was right! I’ve longed to know how my kids would fare in school and wondered if they would be well behaved (they’d better be!) or not. I’ve wanted to see how my daughter would respond to being in such an exciting place with new toys, fun playground equipment and a place where she could learn and play at the same time. I’m so interested to see how she will thrive with the extra stimulation away from me. Yet, I’m sad that my time with her at home is coming to an end. All my regrets and mom guilt surfaced this week, knowing I could have spent these precious years better. I know I could have been more invested. I feel like I’ve wasted so much time. And now I know that once I put her in the “system” that’s it.
My excitement has faded somewhat and I’m feeling a little low today. Not so much about her going to school but rather how much Covid has robbed us of so much. I won’t be able to hold her hand to her classroom. I won’t be able to step inside and show her the toys she could play with. I won’t get to see the look on her face as she takes it all in. I feel depressed about having to sanitise her bag and lunch box to and from school (required by the school) and put things that come home into quarantine. I feel sad that I might not know her friends until this pandemic is over and all I’ll ever hear is their names. I am sad that I won’t be able to have an interview with her teacher. We then got sent some videos of the classroom and I found myself becoming quite tearful that I would never see her in this environment. I wouldn’t know what she chose to play with or how she managed. If ever any parent wanted to be a fly on the wall, it’s me. Not just from the parent aspect but also because preschool teaching is what I studied.
Whenever anyone has the slightest sniffle, we all panic. That happened to me. I was in tears because I woke up with postnasal drip (something I’ve never suffered from!) and was devastated that I might miss her first day! We also have to ask them a list of questions before they leave home – what if she flippantly says “yes” to one of the symptoms and then I have to keep her at home? The rigmarole of it all is exhausting and depressing. The fact that kids can’t just be kids. That they can’t hold hands in the playground but have to do “helicopter arms” when others are near. The fact that they can’t take birthday cake to school. The fact that they can’t move around from classroom to classroom to play in the fantasy room or the art room. I have to comfort myself with the knowledge that she has known no different and happy memories will still be made. I also have to come to accept that I have to let her go. She won’t be in my home forever.
No sniffles, praise Jesus! I woke up fine! That meant I could take my little girl to school! Excuse me while I etch my memories here. She sometimes gets dressed when she wakes up but today, she was dressed complete with shoes and carrying her mask into my room before 5:45. After she made tea with my hubby, he walked into the bedroom to say she was waiting downstairs for me, ready to make her snack. With a big smile on my face, I went downstairs and hoisted her (and her sister who could not be left out) onto the counter. She helped put marg and cheese on her bread and insisted on cutting cucumber sticks by herself (and taste testing one.) She told me she couldn’t play with her sister this morning because she was “running late”- clearly we say that a lot! We took some photos (she was upset that I “snatched” her mask away so we could take pics) and then went past the grandparents to sanitise her bag. She was so amped to walk in and carried her bag in her arms over the puddles. She wanted to stand on the stepping stones while we waited to have temps taken and hands sanitised. As soon as that was done, we walked into the school at stopped at the designated place on the cycle track. Her teacher came to collect her and Older handed her the card she made yesterday and the hydrangea I picked this morning (#overachieverparent) And with a hug and a kiss through masks, she followed her teacher. She didn’t look back. We stepped back to hide behind the jungle gym and watched her struggle for about 5 minutes to put her bag away. Her teacher was back and forth collecting new kids so I completely understand but I definitely got a little teary knowing we couldn’t just go and help her. I wondered whether she’d start to cry but thankfully the intern noticed and helped her out. And off she went inside! She didn’t turn around once to check where we were!
I fiddled about most of the morning, all jittery and anxious to pick her up.
We arrived early (after fetching my husband from work to join us) and we were the first to arrive!! (We are never early!!) We waited anxiously to see our little girl. She sat at the back and soon came to us. It’s awful with a mask because I couldn’t tell how she was feeling because her expression was hidden! I swept her up into my arms when she came to us. She didn’t want to let go of her bag even though her daddy offered to carry it. We walked out and she jumped from stepping stone to stepping stone. I rattled off a multitude of questions and the poor child was quite overwhelmed in the car. She seemed a bit wobbly and said someone had hurt her as my husband put her in. We didn’t get much out of her. My mom stopped by while they had lunch and she happily told her some more. We discovered that she had played on the jungle gym and they read a story about bears. She played with books, animals and fruit. She told us that she played with one of her friends from church who was in her class. She seemed tired so I put her down for a nap and got a little more out of her then.
I got nothing constructive done today because I was way too distracted. Flip, I need to sleep after the excitement of the day!
This morning I felt a whole lot more organised which lifted my spirits. Older helped me make sandwiches. I bought spray sanitiser yesterday because there’s no way I’m rubbing gel on that suitcase twice a day! I wondered if drop off might be different because the curiosity surrounding yesterday was gone. But she was absolutely fine! And what made my mommy heart even happier was that, as she trotted off next to her teacher without so much as a second glance back at me, she told her about what was in her lunch box. It was so good to hear her offering information and starting a conversation with her teacher whom she has only been with one day!
My mom joined us for pick up today. She was most likely last there when I was in preschool. As she looked around at the queue of parents waiting to pick up their kids, she smiled and told me these were some of the best years of her life and where she had made new friends. Yesterday, I was a little tearful that my daughter would come home speaking about children in her class who wouldn’t come on a play date any time soon. And how I wouldn’t have the same interactions with fellow parents except for standing in a line because we’ve been told not to congregate. But nonetheless, when the day comes that we can meet and make friends, how much we will appreciate it!
Older was a lot more chatty today and the first thing she said to me as I buckled her in was that she made new friends today! My heart! She told me the names of her friends – Reuben, Isaac, Magdalena, Sarah and one she called Cinderella. When we checked her class list, there was none of the above, just a Lina and an Isabella. Weird because these names are foreign to her. Until I realised they were all biblical names. Still a mystery as I don’t think she’d make all that up… I realised that she’d had a little cry at school because she’d heard a car and thought it was us. Poor little girl! She also apparently washed her hands a lot – oh dear, you can tell who she belongs to! She was filthy dirty – not my favourite – but that to me had ‘fun’ and ‘happy day’ written all over it! She laughed at me when I suggested that her teacher read today because she told me “Mr Ncgoba” read a story about crocodiles. I wonder what tomorrow will hold…
Older has asked me repeatedly each day if she is “going to school tomorrow” and, much to her delight, my answer has always been yes. From time to time, I joke with her and tell her she needs to stay at home with me and she grins and says, “Noooo.” Today when I said goodbye, she held onto me a little longer and I wondered if we were going to have our first set of tears. But she kissed me through our masks and went to her teacher without any protestations. I went for a walk with a friend and what a breath of fresh air to have a long conversation to another adult in the same phase of life. I then needed to go to the shop so braved it with the toddler strapped firmly facing my chest in the Ergo. Poor thing, a mass of people in one week at school and in the shop – the most sign of life she’s had since November. I figured it was better to wrangle one than two in the shopping centre. We picked up Older who insists on carrying her bag that can wheel behind her. She proudly showed me a smiley face and star on her right arm and told me she had listened today. #happymommyheart
Just like that, our first week of school is over. I wonder how she’ll feel about not going to school tomorrow.
Tags: child, children, corona, coronavirus, covid, covid_19, daughter, diary, first day of school, friends, hand sanitiser, kids, kindergarten, musings, pre-k, preschool, sanitiser, school, snack, teacher, tears, thoughts