I carry Adeline into the building, juggling her big bag of supplies and her lunch box. Outside the classroom door, I put her down and set the bags on the floor. I help her take off her coat and shoes and slip on her indoor shoes. Before I can even get myself situated, she’s ready to go into the classroom. She seems to know what’s going on and she’s not the least bit phased by it.
Today is Adeline’s first day of school. As we got ready in the morning I told her about the school: what her day would be like, that she’d play with her teacher and the other kids, that she’d eat lunch there and then I would come back and pick her up and we’d spend the rest of the day together. She’s not quite fourteen months, but she seems to understand everything.
I open the door to the classroom and she peeks around it and looks up at me. I smile at her and that’s all she needs. She walks confidently into the room and looks around. We’re standing in a small room where the kids nap. Two little boys stand about ten feet away, in an open doorway into the main part of the room. She walks right up to them and they look at her, then at me and their teacher. Adeline pushes past them to get into the main room. The boys follow her, one of them not so happy that she’s doing her own thing.
“This is Adeline,” the teacher says.
“But I don’t know her,” the boy complains. He wants to be in control – he wants to understand what’s going on.
“You know her now.” The little boy considers that. He gives Adeline one last look, then goes back to playing with a toy turtle. He seems to have accepted the new kid.
Adeline, meanwhile, hasn’t hesitated at all. She’s exploring the room without even giving me a second thought.
I go over her things with the teacher and attempt to take some pictures. And then, I know, it’s time for me to leave. I want to linger and watch how she does in this new environment, but I know I can’t. This is her chance to be independent, to explore a world that doesn’t revolve around mama.
I go up to her and ask for a kiss, but she’s too busy. She’s found the silverware and she’s in heaven. ”Addie, can mama have a goodbye kiss, please?” I beg her. But she doesn’t even turn around. I lean in and reach my hand around to her forehead and pull her just a little closer. I give her a small kiss on the back of her head and then let go. She leans forward to see the forks better. And with that, I leave.
I had mixed feelings about putting Adeline in daycare, but it finally seemed like the time had come. I know that at this point I just can’t provide all the stimulation and education that she can get at school, especially at a Montessori school. And I think it’s important for her to get the socialization of being around other kids for extended periods of time. Lately she’s been really attached to me – I love being attached, but I also know that it’s important for her to branch out on her own. School will be great for that. And then, of course, there’s the fact that I need to study for the bar (really not fun) and look for a job. Maybe most importantly, though, I really need a break. It will be better for both of us if I’m happier. And if that means having a little Addie-free time each week, then that’s what needs to happen.
Four hours a day is enough for now, though. I was pretty excited to see my little girl when I went back to pick her up. First day of school: complete!