Monday, September 13, 2010

Why "First Days" are so Hard on Moms

He was grinning and wiggling with excitement as I brushed his teeth this morning.  "Mom?", he asked, "Today I go pre-school?".  "Yes! Today is your first day and it will be so much fun!", I told him, trying to convince myself as much as him.  He ran off to locate his "pack-pack" and he wore it for the next two hours.

As I worried about his first day and all the little details that I hadn't thought to explain yet, I kept wondering what exactly I was so worried about.  After all, this isn't the first child I had sent off to the big, brave world of "first day of school".  It was my fourth!  And then it dawned on me - I was worried about him coming across something that he didn't understand yet - and being scared and confused.  His eyes searching for me in the room, and not finding me there. 

Going to the lunch room and not knowing that he had to stop at his locker and get his lunch.  Or not knowing where the bathroom is and waiting too long to ask.  Or getting separated from his class and getting lost.  Or not knowing how to open a milk carton.  Or getting on the wrong bus and .... you know the nightmare. 

It's the worse-case scenario that moms naturally worry about - it's our genetic mom makeup.  Protecting and nurturing, gently guiding and teaching, being able to look at your child and instinctively know what the need is - those are our mommy trademarks.  And suddenly - they are "on their own" navigating these uncharted waters by themselves, and getting occasional bumps and bruises in the process.

The week before school started - I started to think through the little day-to-day details in a whole new way.  I showed him how to open his lunch box, and how to pop the straw through the little hole in the top of his juice box.  "Don't squeeze it," I explained.  "If you squeeze it the juice will come out and you'll get wet." 

I took him to school and showed him where the bathrooms are.  He walked in by himself and I heard his little feet pause.  "Mom,"  he called to me.  "Come in with me."    I called back to him, "I have to wait for you out here, Wesley.  You can do it." 

I could hear that his feet hadn't started moving, and there were no kids nearby so I peeked into the bathroom to see what his concern was.  He was standing facing a wall of pint-sized urinals, a look of confusion on his face.  Oh great - something we don't have at home.  Just then, a little boy rounded the corner, walked up to a urinal, dropped his pants all the way to his ankles and stood there bare-bottomed and using the urinal.  He finished, pulled up his drawers, and exited without a glance at us.  Wesley looked at me and said "He's silly.  He peed on that!" and marched into the stall, closed and locked the door, and did his business.

Upon exiting, he looked around for a sink.  I showed him the big half-circle trough where you step on the bar at the bottom and a sprinkler turns on to wash hands.  He was mesmerized, and I had visions of the entire class sitting at their little desks learning their letters, while Wesley played in the bathroom, repeatedly stepping on the bar to turn on the hand-sprinklers.

Later at home, when he used the bathroom and then yelled, "Moooooooooommm!" and we went through the merry-go-round of "Emme - can you go wipe Wesley?" "Maea?, Jay? Somebody???"  I walked into the bathroom and announced.  "Wesley, you are big boy now.  You have to wipe your own butt.  Your teachers won't do that for you."  He looked at me - appalled that he would be asked to do such a thing.  Again, I was having visions of the entire class diligently working at their desks, while Wesley sat in the bathroom, swinging his feet and calling for someone.  Well - he's a big boy now. :)  So with that out of the way, he should be ready, right?  Nothing to worry about!

He was all smiles when I picked him up.  A good first day!  He chattered all the way home, told me all the details about his day and proudly showed me one of his projects.  Then he opened his lunch box to show me that he had eaten everything - and he pointed to the juice box and said triumphantly, "I didn't squeeze it!"


Jolene said...

Oh that is awesome! He did fantastic!

Karla said...

You made me snort! :)

Angela said...

Oh smiling so big!

Davene said...

These pictures are wonderful - truly heart-warming. I especially like the one of you and him looking at each other. So sweet!

Becky Lee Burk said...

Others thought this was funny but it made me want to cry!! I can't believe that Ezra will be in school in 2 years! geezz.. it's crazy Karen! Our little dudes are growing up too fast! Wesley is adorable as always, I just love his little back pack - sniff sniff

the joneses said...

Your sweet blog is still one of my favorites! I can only imagine the first day that I send Tegegne off to school. Thanks for painting the picture for me!