Tuesday, June 17, 2008

First Day of Preschool

Wow... she's off and running! Our girl was very happy to be starting school today. It seems like no one in our house could sleep last night with all of the excitement and anticipation. Right at 7 AM, Harper and Daddy got up and showered together while I made the coffee and changed little Jackie's diaper. I laid out two outfit options (her new school clothes) and two options for underwear. When she came into her room wrapped in a towel, she chose the Dora panties ("Because she's a preschool girl") and the striped seersucker shirt with green shorts and sparkly silver sandals. I slipped one of my homemade clips in her hair (a pink one to match the stripe and because it stays in well). After dressing, she had her milk and part of a cartoon while I showered and dressed and Daddy packed her lunch: a PB & J sandwich, fruit snacks, a ziplock of nectarine slices, and an ice water, made complete with an "I love you Harper! Heart Dada" note.

I called her to my room while dressing and sprayed her little wrist with some of my "Eternity" by Calvin Klein perfume. I told her that some of my perfumes I wear every day and some of them I save for only the most special days. This was one of my special ones, the same scent I had worn on the day I married Daddy, the day she was born, and the day Jack Jack was born. Now I would wear it today and she would too... if she ever missed Mama, she could smell her little wrists and know that I love her very much and will see her soon. She was delighted to be treated to something so special and grown up, and I saw her smelling her wrists from time to time all morning long.

Next, she said goodbye to Daddy and sat down for her breakfast of Golden Grahams cereal (without her shirt so it would stay clean) while I fed Jack in the highchair and tried to slip in a few bites of granola and yogurt for myself. During breakfast, the girl had to go do her poos and I changed Jackie again. I was relieved that she had pooed at home and wouldn't have to ask a teacher for help wiping! I also added a note in her lunchbox, saying, "Mama loves you very much. Jack sends love, too. Hugs and kisses, Mama"

When breakfast was done, we quickly took a picture of the school girl outside in the bright morning sunlight, next to our sunflowers. Here it is.

Then we headed off to school. Here's Harper arriving.

On our way in, we found the list of classroom assignments, along with the schedule for the day. (Click to see larger and read the plan for her first day).

(Photo removed by request of another student's family.)

Harper was happy to see Mrs. Sigmund (Grandma's friend) and Mrs. Souza because she's met them before when we've come to visit, turn in paperwork, etc.

We found her cubby hole and parked her backpack in there.

Harper felt free to explore the room, stopping to check out a puzzle, a toy, going over to make a tea party.

One girl, Vivian, was clearly upset when her Daddy said goodbye and Mrs. Sigmund had comforted her to help her stop crying. Harper introduced herself to this girl, but she was too upset to engage a new friend. After Harper had set up the tea party, she said she'd made a place for me to have tea with her but I told her, "Actually, Mommy's going to be leaving soon, so maybe that should be for a buddy. Why don't we invite a friend to have tea with you?" She looked over at Vivian, who was now standing on a chair and looking out the window, hoping to see her Dad returning to rescue her. I encouraged Harper to ask Vivian to join us and Harper walked over and tapped her leg very gently. She said, "I would like to invite you to my tea party." Vivian just looked at her with a sad face and then turned back to the window. I walked over and introduced myself to her and said, "I'm Harper's Mommy, Ruth. Harper made a tea party over there and would like you to play with her. Do you want to come?" She shook her head yes, so I said, "Cool! Let's go girls!" and Vivian hopped off her chair and made her way over to the table Harper had prepared. Harper showed her which cup was hers and poured pretend tea for them both.

I gave Harper a kiss then and reminded her that Daddy would be back to pick her up after lunch. She was engaged in her party and it was a seamless goodbye. I am now home with Jack Jack napping, and I do miss the girl. I am (of course) wondering what she's doing at every moment, how she is feeling. Can't wait to hear the stories!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Gearing Up for Preschool

Harper is getting excited about starting preschool in mid-June. After some agonizing and hand-wringing, we've finally made a decision and we feel good about it. Harper will be starting preschool at "Stepping Stones" in just a few days. She will attend on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

Last night, while on our way to Porterville to celebrate my mom's birthday, E's birthday, Uncle Steve's birthday and Father's day (talk about combining occasions) Harper got my attention and I turned around in the car to find her eyes full of tears. She said, "Mama... you said that after Uncle Steve's birthday and Grannie's birthday I would start preschool and we're celebrating them tonight. I have tears because I am happy that I am really going to start preschool soon!" Ethan and I couldn't believe it. We've cried with joy before and talked about how sometimes tears mean lots of joy-- they don't always mean sadness. Apparently she's learned or experienced that feeling first hand and school is something she's been longing for and it's finally here.

Yesterday I read a short piece online about the joys and frustrations of parenting. One of the joys listed was seeing yourself in your child. I do indeed see myself in her sometimes (not to the exclusion of Ethan's influence... as Grandma likes to say, "That's so Danielle..." I am aware that being a learner is quite consistent with her other set of genes. She comes by it naturally, as they say.) I just remember how I'd consume the workbooks my mom would splurge on when I was young and between grades. I would long for school in the summertime boredom-- both because of the slow, hot hours and because I so longed for the challenges and the socializing I missed at school. My mom would sometimes buy me little workbooks to bide some time and they'd resemble the handouts we did at school. I would inevitably finish them within a couple hours and be left hungry for more.

I can see myself in her constant longing-to-learn and it is part of being a parent that I hadn't counted on. I really did start this adventure with an open mind and heart, open to the possibility that my kids may be totally different than I am and educated by my marriage and teaching experiences about how to communicate through those differences. I have to admit though, that it is so much easier to have a few things in common. I feel like I know where my girl is coming from, and I feel gratified to know how to meet those needs. She's a learner, and I try to give her more and more to learn each day, always aware of where-she-is and trying to give her just enough challenge to remain interesting along with just enough success to feel like a little smarty boots.

E and I just wanted to share that we're all excited over here. I got Harper's calendar set up at her artist table and she marks off the days and can see how close we're getting. Preschool marks a new chapter in the girl's life and we're all so happy about watching her navigate this one.