Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Day 1

We came home from our trip last Wednesday night around 11 p.m., and the next morning we were up bright and early to send Liam off to his first day of school. Isn't that awful? It wasn't supposed to be that way. Our school board changed the school year calendar AFTER we made vacation plans. There was nothing we could do about it.

In fact, we missed Liam's official first day of school, which was supposed to be a 45-minute 1-on-1 (plus parents in tow) with his teacher. So when we showed up, it was for the 2-hour long session with half of his class. What was Day 1 to us was really Day 2 for everyone else.

Nonetheless, I treated it like Day 1. I ironed his shirt carefully before we left on our trip, and we packed him a snack to carry in his backpack, and I took a bunch of pictures of him looking exasperated with me before we left the house. Right before we set off, I checked the literature the school had given us in the spring, and saw a blurb that asked us to send him to school for the first week with a nametag including both his name and his teacher's name. I dashed up to the office and crafted a quick tag from some cardstock, a marker and a quilting pin. I stuck it on his shirt and set off as a family to walk him to school.

We get to the playground, where the kids are all running amok and the parents are milling around, waiting to see them off, and it occurs to me that not one other child is wearing a nametag. In fact, the teacher is out, handing out nametags of her own, stickers done in her own lovely primary-school-teacher printing. I ripped Liam's tag off and shoved it in a pocket and we waited for her to come around to give Liam a tag of her own. I hope nobody saw him with my homemade attempt.

I was the only parent there with a camera, but I was too embarrassed to use it. Clearly, this was Day 2 for the rest of them, and on Day 2 you are not allowed to embarrass your child the same way that is actually acceptable on Day 1. So there were no more photos. We stayed long enough to see Liam line up outside his classroom door and then file into the school along with his classmates. Then we beat a quick path out of there, so that none of the other parents, who had moved onto Day 2 cool, calm and collectedness, could see me bawling the whole way home.

If I thought that Liam's Day 1/everyone else's Day 2 was bad, that in no way prepared me for today, Liam's Day 2/everyone else's Day 3. Today is his first full day. I did as much as I could in advance of today to calm my own fears. I took a Sharpie marker and a P-Touch labeller and put his name all over everything. I dragged him out shopping with me, and we spent the GDP of a small country's equivalent on new midget-sized Tupperware containers with snap-lock lids that he can easily open and close. Then we went home and I spent close to an hour packing his lunch, divvying all the food groups up between Snack, Lunch 1 and Lunch 2 (darn this Balanced Day business - so much more difficult than plain old Lunch!!) I filled up his lunch bag, or rather, attempted to. This is when I realized the lunch bag that came with his back pack is in fact too small to contain all the necessary foodstuffs to sustain him through a day. I enlisted Chad's help to wrestle the containers in, then made Liam sit in front of me and demonstrate what he would eat when. I wanted to be sure he could figure it all out before there were 40 other prying little eyes watching him for a moment of weakness.

This morning, I dropped him off at the Before program. I talked to the caregiver and asked a bunch of questions, and got him started on an activity before I left. And then I walked out, even more upset now on Day 2 (3?) than I was on Day 1 (2?). How have four and a half years gone by so quickly? Did we do enough to get him ready for this? Did I tell him enough about the world, did I love on and cuddle him enough, did I spend as much time playing with him as I could have or should have? Have I been the best parent I can be? Does he feel like I have?

I went to get my teeth cleaned today, because there is no better time to make an appointment to be out of the office than when you are just coming back from vacation and your inbox is several hundred emails long and the light on your phone is blinking angrily. My hygienist (who never lets me get a word in edgewise - how could I, with a mouthful of implements?) was prattling on about her son who just left for university. And how she hopes he has good memories of growing up, she hopes they supported him and took him on enough fun trips and helped him develop good lifelong habits while she had the chance. And I totally understood where she was coming from.

How I hope that he ate his lunch and enjoyed it, that he got to the bathroom when he needed to use it, that he exchanged some words with a fellow classmate, and that he had some fun today. How I hope.

The end of the day cannot come soon enough.


megan said...

Hey Carrie,

I hate to bring this up but... is Liem allowed to wear Croc's to school? Usually they are not allowed due to falling down while running and such other school nonsense. Just thought I'd let you know since I'm old hat at this and put my babies on the bus on the first day.

Kathy said...

Enjoy the next 14 years of school with Liam. They will fly by before you know it and you'll be sending him off to university which is a whole other dimension! Gillian has arrived safely (and excitedly) in TB. Talked to her on Skype last night...so cool!

Carrie said...

Someone else mentioned that to me too, but he's worn them both days and nobody has said anything to us. I will feel stupid if that's the case and we are breaking school rules already, but hey, they can't expect us to follow dress code if they don't provide us with a copy of it, right??

He does have Velcro runners that he changes into for his 'indoor' shoes. Maybe he should have the Crocs for indoors and the runners for outdoors. :)

Kathy - I still can't believe she is old enough to be on her own already! Skype is one of the greatest inventions ever. It will make it so much easier for you to keep tabs on her!

Carrie said...

Asked a teacher this morning. Crocs are allowed. Crisis averted!