Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Only One Crying was Mommy

This morning started off a bit on the rough side. Perhaps because he was already feeling nervous about his first day of junior kindergarten at a new school, Elliot crept into our bed at 4:45 this morning. A few hours later, when it was time to get up, he was not at all eager.

The nerves really kicked in at breakfast. Elliot didn't want to eat. He didn't want to leave my lap. He started whining and crying...and then his negative attitude kicked in. As we've done many times before, Tim and I told our son that everything is better when you have a good attitude...and vice-versa. After a while, he calmed down, but Tim had to resort to a baby trick with our almost five-year old and help him get his cereal into the airplane hangar.

Once he got dressed (also a challenge!), Elliot's attitude somehow seemed to change. He let me take a picture of him with his brand-new construction truck backpack. He was in a good mood in the car. Most shockingly, he was fine when we entered his new classroom.

Elliot "checked in" by sticking an apple sticker by his name. He met a few of his classmates, while I struggled to remember both the kids' and the parents' names. And then, as though he was a veteran of the school, he sat down and started to mold snakes and dinosaurs out of green Playdough with another boy.

I was thrilled...and struggling not to cry. Even though this is junior kindergarten (the equivalent of a "young fives" program) and not a full-day, ride the bus kindergarten program, I've been feeling super emotional. My baby is at a new school, not the familiar one we'd gotten used to. He'll be going to school every day: a first.  He'll be in learning in English after two years of Spanish immersion preschool and I'm so worried about how we'll maintain the Spanish. Mostly, my baby is about to turn five (!) and it suddenly seems that he's growing so fast.

Perhaps because Elliot is maturing, he handled his first day of school really well.  When I went to pick him up, he excitedly waved to me from his seat on the floor of a circle in front of the teachers. He told me he'd had a great day. Best of all, when I told him I'd missed him, he told me,"I didn't miss you. Not one little bit."

That made me very happy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The End of an Era en Español

"Adios, Elliot." "Hasta luego."

A chorus of Spanish-language goodbyes enveloped Elliot. At the teacher's prompting, each child gave him a goodbye hug before he walked through the door of his Spanish immersion preschool for the last time.

After two years, Elliot is moving on...and I'm feeling a little bit sad. Picking him up today for the very last time, I thought back to his very first day at school. We were both nervous. Well, he was terrified, never really having been away from me in a new environment. He bawled when he realized I was leaving. I still remember how odd it felt when I got back home to a completely empty house. So silent.

The first three months were rough, with a lot of phone calls to reassure me that Elliot had indeed stopped crying. But, over time, he started to get more comfortable. He started participating in activities, not merely observing them. He made friends. He gained a lot of confidence. And his Spanish got better and better. I got very used to my baby being out of the house for several mornings each week.

For the past few weeks, Elliot and I have been counting down to his last day at preschool. He's been pretty nonchalant about the whole thing: "Then three days, then two days, then one day, then zero days." But this morning, he was a little upset. His stomach was bothering him. He didn't want to leave the house. "Why is it my last day, Mommy?"

I explained to him again that the school is closed next week, and then he'll start his new school after our Labor Day camping weekend. "But, I don't like new schools."

I reminded him that he didn't like his current preschool when he started. I told him that I also find change difficult. I told him that he's grown a lot and that he's ready for more of a "big boy" experience.

He agreed. On some level, I think he gets it and is ready for a new challenge But, knowing my baby, the transition will not be an easy one. However, I know we'll both have to get used to change and new beginnings because we're going to have a lot of them!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Another Fun Weekend at Grandparents' "Camp"

"Next time I want to stay five sleeps," said Elliot to my parents' friend when they ran into her at a restaurant. One night into his "three sleep" visit to "Camp Grandma and Poppy," Elliot was already planning for a more extended stay next time.

Needless to say, he had a great time.

My dad took Elliot fishing, something he'd done with Daddy several times with no results. With Poppy, he caught eight fish (although six of them were due to a friendly fellow fisher who handed his rod to Elliot every time he had a bite). When my dad told me about it, I could tell that he loved hearing Elliot's squeals of delight as they reeled in their catch on "Big Lunker Lake."

My parents took Elliot to two parks, at least one for a picnic. They gave him his favorite foods, including pizza and a "zap-a-doo burger" (which we call a bagel with honey and cream cheese at our house.) My mom indulged Elliot's role-playing games (coffee shop, driving to Costa Rica, etc.) far longer than I would likely have the patience for.

Elliot and my parents' dog Gia became fast friends, to the point where she let Elliot brush her...something that our cat Leo certainly doesn't stand for!

Elliot stayed up late. He slept well. He played and got read to and watched videos on Grandma's computer. He pretended he was driving the golf carts at the local golf course. Coming home from our weekend get-away, I texted my mom to say that we'd be a little late due to traffic. "Don't worry," was her immediate response. "Elliot and Poppy are at Home Depot sitting on tractors." (And I'm sure he was deciding which one he'd buy when he was a grown-up).

"Three sleeps" was the longest Elliot had ever spent at Grandma and Poppy's, and away from us. All in all, it was a smashing success. Tim and I got to enjoy an adults-only anniversary celebration at a Lake Michigan beach town, and Elliot got three days of undivided attention from his beloved grandparents.

And everyone involved was very happy.