Monday, January 7, 2013

1st Day of Preschool *Gulp*

Somebody tell me how this is possible.

My little boy just turned three years old two days ago and now he is going to school. That just seems wrong. You wouldn’t send a two-year-old to school, so why on Earth would you send a little boy who was two years old just two days ago to school?

Still shaking my head in disbelief over this one. But off to school he goes.IMG_9965

Sam was eligible to early intervention through the county until age three. Miss Bev dutifully showed up at our doorstep every other week and we played.  And learned, but it was learning through play.

Then Sam celebrated his birthday and Miss Bev stopped coming. I still get teary about it. *sigh*

Now Sam’s intervention services are turned over to the school district, and he is off to preschool. Without me. Outside of the safe, nurturing walls of his home and his family. And truthfully, I had more than a few hesitations about it.

Of course we have other options for speech intervention. We could have a speech therapist over to the house, we could bring him to the school just for speech time, we could use intervention funding to hire a private speech therapist.

But in all honesty, we feel that this is the best option.

Sam is a social boy. He loves being around kids. Kids are great motivators and role models for speech. He will also get much more time with the speech therapist being enrolled in preschool. Time that we couldn’t duplicate in a home setting.

Really, it is a big win for everyone. Except for my mommy heart which still sees him as a baby.

We’ve only had Sam for a year. It feels like he is being stolen from me. And I am not taking it very well.IMG_9966

When I took Sam for a tour of his new school, he was very excited. He sees sister going to school each day, and the fact that he was now standing inside a school seemed pretty cool to him. When I signed to him that this was “Sam’s school,” he looked at me in disbelief.

He questioned me by repeatedly signing back, “Sam’s school?”  I answered him in the affirmative each time. Then he signed, “Molly’s school?” wondering if I somehow made a mistake in my communication skills. I assured him that this was not Molly’s school, but his school.

He raised both arms above his head and shouted, “HURRAY!”

For the past two weeks he has been asking about Sam’s school and we have been counting down until the first day. Today was it.

This morning both Sam and Molly donned coats and backpacks and we headed out the door. Upon arriving at Molly’s bus stop, Sam was greeted by the bus stop moms with excitement and good luck wishes.

It was a t this point that I lost it.


It really caught me off guard. I though I had come to terms with the whole baby-going-to-school thing. Apparently not.

But Sam had to go to school and having a blubbering idiot for a mom was not going make the process easier for him. Therefore, I dried my tears, pulled on my big girl pants and loaded my school boy into the van. He was thrilled.

Sam was all about going to school….well, except for the whole mom-is-going-to-leave-me-here-by-myself thing. When it came time for saying goodbye, Sam put the Vulcan death grip on me and I knew we were in for a challenge.

When a child typically has this reaction on the first day of school, you might just say, “Leave, let him cry it out. He’ll be fine.” And that’s exactly what Sam’s teacher told me.

Except I just couldn’t do it with Sam. It was only a year ago that someone arrived at Sam’s foster home where they took him from the loving arms of his foster parents and thrust him into a tall American stranger’s arms. His whole life was turned upside down and he has never seen that life in China again. How could he trust that this wasn’t going to happen to him again.IMG_9968

So now we have started what I am sure is going to be a process--attending preschool without Mom. I know I need to be out of the classroom. I know he needs to be there alone. I can’t go to preschool with him. But I am not going to leave him there when he is terrified and feeling abandoned.

My plan is to stay as long as he needs, but spend every minute pushing him towards independence.

When Sam finally let up on his grip around my neck, I had him sit in my lap. When he would sit in my lap, I had him move to the floor. When he’d sit on the floor, I scooted back. A constant dance of being there for him yet encouraging his independence.IMG_9969

Day one wasn’t bad. Sam actively engaged in some activities, left my side on many occasions, and I was eventually able to sit in the hall for the last 20 minutes of class!

How long will it take until I can drop him off, kiss him goodbye and go? Don’t know. But I was oh, so proud of my schoolboy today! He took some very big steps.

And so did I.

Update 1/21/13: Well, it’s been two weeks since Sam started preschool. I think that I can say that we are over the hump. Every day I spent less and less time in the classroom with Sam, until I could drop him off at the door and leave.

He still signs “No school!” to me as we drive to school, but once there  he joins in and has a good time. Today was the first day where I said goodbye and he waved to me and turned to join the class with a smile on his face.

Update 2/21/13: Sam is now excited about school. He asks if it is time to go to school and shouts, “Hurray!” if I tell him yes. He has no problems when I drop him off and participates in all the activities throughout the day.

He is always really excited when I come pick him up. He runs out in the hall and gives me a big hug and says/signs “mama!” over and over. Then hugs me some more.

It’s the best part of my day!

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