The start of preschool sets the schedule for the rest of my child’s childhood: field trips, book bags, school photos. Bring it.
Today is my daughter’s first day of preschool.
I have written this ahead of time, but I know at least this has happened: I probably a cried a little, we ran late, and we tried to take a photo of her on the porch holding a sign that said “First Day of Preschool,” but I didn’t remember to do that until the last minute so it was written on a paper plate. And she stuck out her tongue because she is tired of being photographed.
Despite what I said the other week, I’ve been getting emotional about this milestone. In practice, nothing changes in our day-to-day lives. She’s still going to be somewhere else with other kids while we work, and it’s not “real” school, so she won’t have homework and tests. But it sets the schedule for the rest of her childhood. She will have summer vacation and winter breaks until she’s an adult. Plus she gets to carry a book bag (and I get to deal with everything she brings back in a real way).
I’m excited about the year ahead. When we first visited the school, I was overwhelmed by how sweet it was. All the classrooms were so classroom-y. It was everything I remembered about elementary school and more. I can’t wait to do the typical preschool things: pumpkin patch visits, school photos, having lunch with her at a tiny table. I read the roster of names for my kid’s class and wondered what weird things I will hear about them in a few months. I’m looking forward to seeing how she does in a classroom setting. And there is a class hamster that I will refuse to take home, but will be cute to see outside of my house. I think she’ll love her new school.
But with this transition year between all-day play and real-deal school, we’re leaving behind some good pals and routines.
I’m also writing this ahead of time of another milestone: her last day of daycare. She’s been with the same care provider for all of her life. I often have done the working-mom math to decide that yes, our daughter does still spend more time at home with us than she does with her babysitter1 (over the course of a year, anyway), but she’s definitely third in line for hours logged with my child. My daughter is very close to her.2
We’ve watched our daughter’s friends at daycare grow up. We’ve been part of a great community of parents, especially when we needed it the most as new parents. We’ve become friends with them. One of them is my running partner. I bought matching sweaters at Old Navy with another mom. These families are a part of our lives outside of talks in the driveway while we pick up or drop off kids.
Leaving the thing that binds you easily ends the friendship, but I’m going to try to make sure that we still see these families. And when our kids aren’t active friends anymore, I still have the friendships I made. I don’t know that I’ll have a chance to be as connected to the parents at preschool, and maybe it won’t matter since she won’t be there long.
I’m going to miss her daycare family. I’ll miss hearing the (hopefully made up) stories about what they did and said. I’ll miss the crazy expressions she picks up from them. I’ll miss it when my daughter stops pronouncing words the same way her Welsh nanny says them.
Before her first day of school, we’re going on vacation to San Francisco.3 I’m glad how the timing worked out, so that her last few pre-preschool days will be spent with her parents. It seems appropriate that before a big life change happens that we first have to travel across the country and experience time changes and severe weather differences.4
On her last day of daycare, I probably didn’t take a photo to mark the occasion. But I did probably cry. And we were probably be running late.
Photo by: MTSOfan
- Referring to her as a “babysitter” seems to downplay her role in my daughter’s life, but I’m running out of synonyms for “caretaker.” ↩
- My daughter often tells me how much she’s going to miss her babysitter and it’s very sweet. The other day my daughter told her, “I’m going to miss you when I…go to Kroger.” ↩
- Or will have gone–I don’t know how to format writing from the past for the future. I hate time travel. ↩
- And spend time with her new airplane book The Berenstain Bears Go to School. I like for all major events to be explained by bears. ↩