Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back to School

I have friends who have cried on their kid’s first day of pre-school. I’ve heard of teachers that hand out individual tissue packs for the parents to catch the tears on the big day. I didn’t cry on the first day of school. I cried on the last day.

Before Bob started his first full year at a sweet co-op, we enrolled him in a fancy pants pre-school for a short summer session to work out a few tiny separation anxiety issues. The school is beautiful; a small compound that resembles a Craftsman neighborhood. The orientation video had me welling up during the montage of photos of happy multi-cultural children basking in the amazing student/teacher ratio, all set to Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World. The bill for six weeks at that shining school had me crying even more. We never harbored any fantasies that we would send him there for any longer than a month and a half only because in order to afford a full term we would have to move into a van.

The teacher in charge of Bob’s class was a tall African-American man named Mr. Eric. I referred to Mr. Eric as the tantrum-tamer. He was a quiet guy with an amazing ability to calm a crying child simply by scooping them up into his arms.  He guided the children seamlessly through art and water-play. He taught them table manners and sang A Ram Sam Sam at circle time. Mr. Eric had two lovely assistant teachers who helped with the home-made clay and free-play with the endless supply of age-appropriate wooden toys.

Bob loved it. I loved it more. I had the suspicion that if we could just drop our son off at three-years of age and pick him up fifteen years later, these wise and gentle folk would do a much better job of raising him than we ever could. On the last day of school, I surprised myself and cried. I cried a big hiccupy, snot-string cry. It was our introduction to Bob's school years and it had ended. We moved on to other swell schools and other wonderful teachers and I've held it together. So far.

Next week, Bob starts kindergarten. After a long-ish summer of all Bob, all the time, I am looking forward to a little three hour and twenty-five minute break everyday. Of course, I will miss him. This year school feels like it’s starting too soon and at the same time not soon enough. I don’t anticipate crying though, but I never do.


30 comments:

  1. Mr. Eric sounds like he'd be a nice person for adults to have around, too.

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    1. I think you're very right. We could all use a Mr. Eric.

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  2. "Bittersweet" was a word probably invented by a mother taking her child to his first day of school.

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  3. I think everyone should have a Mr. Eric. But then let's contemplate this 3.5 hour kindergarten thing - it's going to feel like a gorgeous stretch of time in which you will Get So Much Done. And then you'll realize that three hours is about enough time to go home, pee by yourself, stare at the mess, contemplate your laptop, and then ... time to pick him up. It's enough to make a gal cry.

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  4. I cried when Ella headed off to kinder, but not with Lily. Campbell starts in a week, and I have a feeling I'll be an ugly mess.

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    1. I feel you. I'll be prepared too, just in case.

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  5. Better you than me.

    Do they have classes for adult separation anxiety?

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  6. It's such a complex emotion, isn't it? I love Mr. Eric.

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  7. A three hour break in your day is kinda perfect. It's a good way to start. Because it's still a lot of Bob time and yet...some you time too. :)

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    1. Yes, last year was only 2-1/2 hours so this is a good transition for me. Bob wouldn't mind one way or another!

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  8. I adore "A Ram Sam Sam" -- it's definitely the sign of a good teacher.

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    1. I think they created the word "earworm" specifically for A Ram Sam Sam and the Beach Boys' Kokomo.

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  9. Sounds like a wonderful experience.

    I'm totally ready for school and eager to send them off. My kids are 14-21 so there won't be any crying going on. They're a different kind of precious now.

    Good luck to you! Stopping by from SITS.

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    1. Is it wrong that I'm scared of that kind of precious?

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  10. My little guy starts kindy on Tuesday. I have mixed emotions. He too went to a great preschool and I am just hoping his teacher is just as kind and caring.

    I am looking forward to 3 hours of no legos though :) Time to drink my tea/coffee in silence and read blogs.

    Oh yeah guess I better clean the house and all that jazz too.

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    1. Haley, it sounds like you and I are of one mind. Cheers.

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  11. Just wait until first grade when he'll be gone all day. Mahvelous ;)

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  12. That sounds wonderful and scary all at the same time.

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  13. This school... my son goes to a version of this school. We are contemplating moving into a van to keep him there another year. I hardly ever shower anyway... won't be much of an adjustment.

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    1. Perhaps we can find a nice parking lot to share...

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  14. Today is my daughter's first day of college classes, and it is her first first day of school that I have not been there to witness and i did shed a tear or two.

    Congrats on kindergarten!

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