Outside of the Park District
Ben started school last week, and as much as we tried preparing him, by reading books, watching movies and talking about it, he still wasn’t enthusiastic. Dave would even play a little game, something along the lines of:
Dave: Who’s 3 years old?
Dave: Who loves Wipeout?
Dave: Who’s a big boy?
Dave: Who’s going to school?
Ben: You are!
Whenever I would mention school, he would always ask if I was coming with him and when I would tell him that I would just be dropping him off but that I would come back and pick him up. He wasn’t too happy about that.
We’d enrolled him in a 2 hour a day, 2 day a week preschool at the local park district, just to get him used to being around other kids and being away from home. Previously, Dave’s parents and my dad would switch off days during the week to take care of Ben, so he’s not around kids much. During the summer we got him into a t-ball league and a sports class, but I’ve come to realize that he’s just naturally shy around other kids. That, and his favorite hobby seems to be clinging to me.
I was dreading the first day of school, because he cries when I drop him off at his grandparents’. How would he act if I dropped him off in an unfamiliar place? We were on vacation on the days they had the open house for his class, where he would be able to see the classrooms and meet the teachers. So his first day of school would be trial by fire - I was NOT going to stay there and hold his hand throughout the day. He had to do it on his own.
So the first day of school came, and as I drove him there he mentioned in the car that he didn’t want to go. I ignored it and since I was so paranoid, we actually got there several minutes early. So Ben got to hang out outside the classroom and see the other kids, and hang up his backpack on the hook. Once the teacher opened up the room, I led Ben inside, readying myself for the leg hugging that was sure to come.
Lo and behold, Ben saw a toolbench in the corner and immediately left me to go and play with it. I was surprised, but happy. His teacher told him he had to go and wait in line to wash his hands before he played with the toys, and he stepped in line and waited his turn. I talked to the teacher for a second about some paperwork I had to fill out, and stood in a corner to work on it. I watched Ben go back to the workbench and work on a project. He then moved on to the play dough table.
I hovered a bit, and so did many other parents. I wasn’t the only one taking pictures and holding my breath, waiting for some sort of meltdown to happen. There were a couple kids who were already hanging on to their parents, bawling their eyes out. There was a signup sheet outside the classroom to bring in snacks, so I stood there, strategizing the best dates for me to bring in something tasty. Ben walked out of the classroom and pulled me back in, asking “Where are you going?” I was caught! I explained to him that I would looking at stuff out there. I hovered a bit more, this time with Ben checking on my whereabouts every now and then.
Finally, the teacher was calling for class to begin. I didn’t want to make a scene, but I did want to give my little boy a kiss goodbye. I knew it was risky, but I wasn’t going to just sneak out. So I bent down and asked him for a kiss goodbye, and he gave me a kiss and went back to his playing, but he didn’t seem too happy about it.
A couple hours later, I came back to pick him up. The teacher opened the door and told the kids to stay in their seats until their name was called. I saw Ben sitting quietly at a table, waiting. Some kids didn’t listen and ran out of the door as soon as they saw their parents (I wasn’t the only one craning my next to see inside the doorway). When Ben’s name was called, he walked out of the room and grabbed his backpack, and was looking for me in the crowd of expected parents. I did this idiotic wave to him, and he had a smile as he ran into my waiting arms.
I asked him what he did in class, and his answer was “I don’t know” and stuck to that answer for most of the day. Even now, after 3 classes, he still doesn’t talk about class much. I told him that were going back a couple days later, and he replied, “No, I don’t want to go. I already went.” He doesn’t cry when I drop him off, but it’s obvious he’s not feelin’ the school thing. He’s made some art and things, and seems pretty proud of the stuff that he’s done. I guess it’ll take a bit of time to adjust from being the center of attention to having to spend time with a classroom of other small people.
Well, at least he didn’t cry!