Friday, August 18, 2006

First Week Of Pre-K: A Retrospective

You have never, ever, in your life, seen a child so completely and totally STOKED to begin any pursuit as Bella was to GO TO SCHOOL. She has talked about it non-stop for, literally, WEEKS.

On Monday morning, her first day, Alex and I crept quietly up the stairs to her room to wake her gently, at the unaccustomed early hour of 6:00 A.M. We eased open her door oh, so gently, and peeked in, to be immediately greeted by a bright-eyed, very nearly vibrating, Official Preschooler calling out, "Hi, Mommy and Daddy! Can I go to school now?"

It took us approximately 97 seconds to have her ready to head out the door, skirt at proper length, hair appropriately contained, ridiculously large backpack packed with the pre-directed essentials, and a rose for her new teacher. SHE WAS GIDDY. By the time we arrived at the school building, we could have convinced people she'd had a few double-espressos. She requested I accompany her in, but demanded last-minute Daddy-kisses before going in.Just the slightest hesitation at the door, in which she appeared to consider the ramifications of the weird, scholarly owl. (Who ever said owls were so smart, anyway? I bet they're just as dumb as your typical bird. I think it's that turning-the-head-around thing that intimidates the other birds into believing that owls have some kind of advantage.) And is that backpack BIG enough? "Full-size" backpacks were specifically required.We went in, met teachers, signed in, and were onward to the proper pre-start-of-school "holding area."It was upon arrival here that Isabella first wanted to know what in the world was WRONG with all these people, and mainly, WHY ALL THE CRYING? She sat politely, then began to look more and more worried at the collective weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth all around her.Fortunately, the director finally came to fetch her and take her to her classroom, and it was with a great, huge, ENORMOUS degree of separation anxiety that she bid her dear mother goodbye for the day. Observe:But at least, when I went to gather her again at the end of each day, and crept into her bare-minutes-post-nap group,Once she noticed me, I was always greeted enthusiastically with, "MOMMY! I missed you SO much!" and happy, happy hugs and kisses. More on flickr. So, here's how week one broke down:

Monday: Child reported having a great time, learning numbers, singing songs, eating lunch, etc..."What about nap-time? Didn't you take a nap?" Child reports not actually napping, but "closing my eyes tight--like this--and thinking about clouds." Double-checking with teachers reveals that Child was actually unconscious immediately upon assuming the prone position on her cot. Teachers also report that Child would not assume the part of "leader" in a choo-choo train game in which all the children put their hands on the shoulders of the children in front of them and formed a train that snaked all around the room...Child would ONLY accept "caboose" position in the kiddie-train, due to Child's strong aversion to having the grimy hands of other children touching, and possibly mussing, her outfit. Mother's guess is that the subjects in question were boys.

Tuesday: Child again reports swell time at school, again giving a nap report in direct conflict with that of the teachers. Child brings home note from administration instructing that, in future, Child should not come to school with puffy kitty stickers all over her legs (darned long dresses)--thanks, Erin! Yep, second day, already a note from the teacher.

Wednesday: Child is still happily attending school, talking cheerily about it, looking forward to it. Pick-up of Child today includes a report from the teacher that she had to have a time-out, due to being disruptive (Mother feigns supreme shock at this very notion) at nap-time, but that Child was only momentarily recalcitrant and then promptly apologetic concerning her misbehavior, and did in fact apologize again in Mother's presence on the way out the door. Third day, first time-out.

Thursday: Whole family felt bad, everyone played hookey, and we met Grandmommy Lynette, who drove all the way up from her home to meet us for lunch and bring Bella more clothes and goodies. Altogether a better way to spend a day, in my opinion, but darned if I'm going to poison my school-loving child with my bitterness.

Friday: Disaster strikes. We pick up Child, she clings to us like one of those poor motherless baby monkeys from those Harlow experiments in the 60's, who just had a stuffed doll instead of a live monkey-mommy, and declares upon getting into the car that, for all intents and purposes, she is DONE with school. FOREVER. Reports more naptime time-out trouble, and Daddy reports exchange with teachers involving a story of crying and the disturbing of other children because she "missed Mommy and Daddy" too much to go to sleep. Pretty much all we have heard all day today is how Child shall not be returning to school, because Child "hates school," and has decided to either a.) go to work with Mommy and Daddy every day OR b.) stay at home by herself all day and watch princess movies. I find it difficult to argue with her preferences.

ALSO: Included in today's sent-home material, is a letter of resignation from the preschool director, citing the reason that "...the time has come for me to change directions..." and that "This will be my last day."

Coincidence? We can only hope so.

OH! And additionally, we must report an abrupt, successful and total reformation in Bella's bedtime routine, which has been, at best, a Battle Royale for the last several weeks. Our secret? Well, besides the very regular school routine, we give the lion's share of the credit to Alex's installation of the genius closed-circuit Bella-Cam. BRILLIANT, I tell you. Gone are the nights of being awakened to the sounds of small feet thumping down the stairs, icemakers grinding, 2:00 A.M. sandwich preparation, and even, recently, the SCREAMINGLY entertaining attempted 75-minute microwaving of a Bertolli's Skillet Meal in the wee hours of the morning (this plot was fortunately caught in the early stages of its execution).

With the simple addition of this image, fed directly into our bedroom television (and yes, it has sound), all we need do is to call out a perfectly-timed, "You better GET that leg back into that bed!" Hee. Hear a funny noise? Pick up the remote and click over to the Bella Channel, see what's going on, and put a stop to it! Now, instead of fighting over bedtime for hours, our sweet child is asleep within minutes of going to bed--AT A REASONABLE HOUR. Spying on your toddler/preschooler. I highly recommend it.


  1. OH, what a great idea that "Bella Cam" is. Will have to recommend that to my sister:o)

    My niece survived her first 2 weeks at school and gets a smiley face every day. I think she gets the good part from her aunt:o) She has also missed her first day because of a nasty cough and fever that apparently ran through the whole class. My sister told her to enjoy kindergarten because she probably would be homeschooled for first grade. It took them over a week before they taught her anything in class.

    I hope Bella's second week goes better, but I do have to agree that her suggested options sound better than school.

  2. I hope Bella's week does go better next week.

    Alan would probably love to do the second options, except substitute Thomas videos and Noggin. He returns to his preschool program (2.5 hours not in daycare) September 7th. It's 100x times better than the daycare, we both love it, even if we go nuts working out the transportation!

  3. Am hoping that by Sunday night Bella is stoked about going to school again. This will date me, but schools in Arkansas weren't required to have kindergarten when I was 5. I stayed with my granny while Mom and Dad worked. She taught me so much more than I probably would have learned in kindergarten anyway. BUT, when I started first grade, I found myself bored to tears because I wasn't learning anything new. I spent a lot of time standing in the corner because I talked so much and bothered the other children. I did not like first grade! I fell in love with school during second grade. My teacher always had something above and beyond for me to do if I finished my work early. That teacher really made a difference in my life!

  4. Good heavens, that backpack is as big as she is! I love the photo of her sitting like the perfect little lady, ankles crossed and everything. What a darling.

    I think I need a spycam for my sons' room, as it has recently come to my attention that they wait until we have closed the door, then turn on the reading lamp and read books in bed when they are supposed to be sleeping. No, no, NO reading after lights out!

  5. She is SUCH a DIVA! Who would have ever thunk it that YOUR child would be a super-princess.

  6. I'd just like to say, that I'm pleased to have corrupted your darling daughter all the way from California. Man. I'm good.

    Seriously, better on Bella's legs than in my daughter's mouth! They were sitting next to your article as I packed the envelope. So really, I was just pushing my puffy kiddy problem onto you.

  7. Man, I REALLY enjoyed this post! I can't remember the last time I smiled all the way through a post anywhere.

    I'm still smiling.

  8. My youngest had the biggest smile ever on his first day of school (several years ago). It would be nice if children could be that happy all the time.

  9. I recall precisely the moment my daughter left my side when we arrived at pre-school. As I am staring at her bouncing ponytail as she laughingly called out, "Byeeee mommmeeee....". I sniffle and one of the teachers says, "Mrs. McNeil, are you okay? Do you need help getting to your car?". BAH. She turned into the girl I was raising her to be. How wonderful you are experiencing the same joy. Beautiful pictures


  10. You have the most ADORABLE daughter, and no, I don't think that backpack could be any bigger!:-) She sounds like she loves life so much, is excited about everything, and is just a doll. Your stories about her are hilarious (like microwaving the dinner for 75 minutes in the middle of the night!).

  11. I have to agree with Bella, going to school every day at her young age seems a bit much to me too. (I know you just loved reading that).

    Around here, 3 yrs old go to preschool only two days a week, 4 yr olds go three times.

    How long is her day? Are you kinda using it as daycare too?

    Only some schools here (Indiana) have day-long kindergarten and regular kindergarten is only 3 hrs.

  12. Was Bella carrying the backpack or was the backpack carrying her?

  13. Funniest. post. EVER. I read part of it out loud to Bret, and he said between chuckles, "Oh, man! Do they realize what they're in for when she's 14?" Spoken like a true father of two girls.

    We just love your Bella stories!