Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Daycare: Day 1

6:30 AM sure came early, especially when I simply could not sleep the night before (as evidenced by the late time stamp on my newspaper blog entry). I finally managed to get up and get dressed. He usually turns over some time between 6:30 and 7, so I was hoping to catch him when he was semi-awake. Considering he routinely sleeps until 8 AM or later, I knew 6:45 would also come as quite a shock to him, so I was trying to let him sleep as late as possible. I finally hear him moving around, so I go into his room. And he is out cold! I really hated to wake him up because he looked so cute and sweet and peaceful all asleep. Since you never know when he is actually asleep at night, we almost never go in and check on him, and even if I did, his room is so dark I'd never be able to see him anyway. Yeah, great way to start the morning, with a worse guilt trip than I already had! I try taking away puppy, Eeyore, and his blanket that was underneath him. Nothing. I turn off his noise maker and turn on the overhead light (using my head to block the direct glare of the bulbs from his face), and still nothing. It took several minutes of rubbing, shaking, and calling his name to get him to open his eyes. He was not very happy. I felt so bad! (Hmm... takes him a while to go to sleep, but can sleep through anything once he's out, late sleeper, slow to awaken... guess he really does take after me.)

We go downstairs, and he is obviously confused, especially as to why it is dark outside. He was fascinated with the dark windows. He usually wakes up well after sunrise and goes to bed at dusk, so that was a rather new experience for him. I turned on the porch light so he could see out, and he just seemed even more baffled. We watched WeatherScan for a few minutes (standard morning procedure), then I offered him breakfast. He refused waffles (which made me afraid he wasn't going to want to eat before we left), but finally agreed to grits after I supplied him with his morning orange juice fix. By the time he was done eating, the sky was getting light, and he was in a much better mood. We emptied the dishwasher (another morning ritual, though it usually preceeds breakfast), then got him changed. Again, he was rather confused, since I rarely took him out of his pajamas until after his first nap, but he didn't seem distressed. When I asked if he was ready to go, he nodded yes, ran over and grabbed his shoes, and then hopped in the recliner and stuck his foot out. So helpful, so eager, and with no clue I was about to drop him off with total strangers for the entire day.

We arrived at the daycare center and walked down to the morning class room (where all of the kids who can walk gather until the classes split up around 8:30). We went in, and he immediately jumped in and started playing with the other kids, but he kept an eye on me as reassurance that it was okay for him to be playing. I chatted with the teacher for a minute, and she seemed very impressed that he wasn't shy or scared and just jumped right in. Another mother encouraged me to just slip out when he wasn't looking, but I refused. I didn't want him looking for me. As much as I knew it would hurt both of us, I wanted him to know that I was leaving. My father was scolded the first time he dropped my brother off at daycare 20-mumble-mumble years ago. "You do not sneak out on a child. You look at him, you tell him bye and that you'll come back to get him later, and then you come back just like you said." So that's what I did.

I slipped out behind the half door (top part open so adults can see in but kids can't get out), but I actually had to call his name to get his attention, he was so busy playing. He did get distressed when he realized I was on the other side of the door and ran up to me. I bent down, kissed the top of his head (obviously a very short half-door), said "I love you, Luke. I'll see you this afternoon. Bye!" And I bolted down the hallway. I heard the teacher immediately try to distract him with a game some of the other kids were playing (Going on a Bear Hunt, for those of you who know that; I remember it from when I was a kid), and he wasn't crying that I could hear.

I, on the other hand, was not doing so well. I managed to keep it together and answer a couple of questions from the person in charge that day (the manager was out) about his contact info and such, and then I finally made it out to my car. And promptly fell apart. Thank goodness I had remembered to bring a few tissue at the last minute. I spent several minutes sitting in my car, trying to get it together, and finally felt comfortable enough to attempt to drive home. It was really hard, though, since every time I looked in the rear view mirror, I could see the top of the (empty) car seat. I am never out, alone, in my car, without Luke. DH's car does not have a car seat, so if I need to go out by myself, it is *always* in his car so he has the car seat if needed. It was just so strange to be in MY car, with the car seat, and without Luke.

Then I got home, and it really sunk in. The house felt so huge and so quiet and so empty. It's not like I haven't been home without him before, but usually in those cases, I've had about all of him I can take and DH is taking him out to give me some peace and quiet, and they're gone an hour at most. This was different, and I had never realized how full and alive Luke made the house until he was no longer there. I pretty much sat down and cried for 30 minutes. Spoke with my brother briefly (who didn't mind that I was crying the majority of the time), which helped me start to get with it, but it was still about 10:30 before I could speak with my boss without feeling like I was going to burst into tears. We had been communicating most of the morning via instant messaging (I can cry all I want and still type), and I made him *promise* not to ask me anything about Luke or how daycare went, or even about my weekend, otherwise I would start crying again (and neither of us wanted that). He was gracious enough to abide by my wishes, and just very understanding of the whole thing, having three children of his own. Have I mentioned what a great guy my boss is? (And no, I'm not sucking up. I don't think he even knows I have a blog.)

I was very grateful for the work, as it made the day pass pretty quickly. Once I started working, the only time I had a problem was at lunch. When I sat down to eat, I felt tears coming on because I was so lonely. Practically every day for the last 2 years, I have eaten lunch with him. There are precious few exceptions (get-togethers, brief out of town trips for 1-2 days); maybe 10-15 days of his entire life. But he wasn't there, and will not be here 5 out of 7 days for a long time to come, so I'll have to get used to eating by myself.

DH came home around 4, and I didn't think to ask him what it was like for him to walk in the door and not be tackled by Luke running full steam into his legs to greet him. DH actually got to come in, ask me about my day, and sit down, instead of immediately going upstairs to "prep Luke's room" for bedtime as he has done every work day for about a year now. He (DH) seemed to handle it okay, but he also seemed a bit lost. I was intending to leave at 4 to pick Luke up, so DH accompanied me.

When we got there, he was in the toddler room (sometimes, if there aren't many toddlers or two year olds, they combine classes into the 2 year old room after nap time). He seemed very excited to see me. Yay! He doesn't hate me after all. I wasn't real thrilled with the situation in the room, though. There were three other toddlers in there (all boys), but the oldest one was about 16 months old. The others were 13-14 months and just starting to get an handle on walking. There was no one remotely near Luke's age and/or abilities in there with him. Now this won't be the case every day. They have a lot of part time kids, especially aged 3 or less. Some only come half-day (usually in the mornings), while others only come 2 or 3 days a week. So it won't be that way every day, and he does get lots of interaction with the 2 year old class (mornings, lunch, and recess, plus if they combine classes), so I guess it's okay. They are quite strict on the "you can't move up to the next class until you actually turn the right age" thing, but it's only three weeks away. Maybe it will be good for him to be in a smaller, calmer class where he isn't the absolute youngest for a few weeks until he gets the hang of it, but I will make sure he is moved up as soon as possible after his birthday (should be immediate, since they have openings at all levels).

We talked with his teacher, and she said he did very well, especially for it being both his first day and his first time in daycare. He didn't cry at all, but he didn't eat much. I told her that didn't surprise me at all. We're still having trouble moving on to "real food" and away from baby food, and he's a picky eater as well. "He ate all of his animal crackers and juice at snack, though." Yeah, that sounds about right! LOL We asked if he was ready to go, and he emphatically nodded, turned to the teacher, said "bye" (which she said was the only word besides uh-oh he had said the whole time, but I told her that was also normal for him), and started walking towards the door. Well, apparently one of the other little boys was rather attached to Luke, and just started wailing that we were leaving. He toddled after us as we walked to the door, and I felt so bad closing the door while he was screaming, but it was starting to upset Luke. I guess he made a new friend!

So, that was Daycare Day 1. I'd say things went extremely well. I was terrified that he would start crying when we drove up to the daycare center today and he realized where we were (and that he would be left there again), but he actually seemed excited to be back. He got out of the car, walked eagerly to the door, and went right into the classroom without a fuss. He hung back for just a second, then jumped right into the fray. I did not go in this time, I just opened the half door and let him go in. I called his name, said bye, he waved (looking a little uncertain, but not about to cry), and I left (and managed not to cry). When I picked him up, the teacher said he didn't cry and had another great day. So, I guess we're all adjusted now. I hope it lasts and he doesn't change his mind on me later this week or next week. In the mean time, he seems to be having a ball!

Currently feeling: relieved


  1. It sounds like all three of you did great.

    I understand you missing him. I was okay when Marcus went for short days, but now it's long days and Dave picks him up, I find I'm waiting for both my boys to come home.

    Sounds like your boss is really great.

  2. Yay, Luke! Yay, Erin! You both survived!

    About Luke being older than some of the other kids.... I think you're right about it being a good way for him to adjust. Andy has been in a similar situation a few times, and it has always been good for him. Also, bear in mind that Montessori programs purposefully mix kids of varying ages (within limits) because the older kids are natural teachers to the younger ones, and the exchange is good for both of them.

    I know Steve misses having Luke run into his legs (hopefully he got it when you got home with Luke). I know it's the best part of my day when Owen sees me (at daycare or home) and comes running at me with a huge grin on his face.

  3. Glad to hear it. Seems like things are going very well. You have a great handle on things. You are absolutely right about sneaking out, even though I'm guilty of doing it sometimes.
    I too think that the mix of ages is good for him. He certainly doesn't seem intimidated by anything. You have raised a strong boy!

  4. That's my big boy Luke and my big girl Erin!! I'm glad things went smoothly! That's a great picture of him. He looks like he has grown up so much in just three weeks!


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