Bye Bye, School! We'll See You Next Time!

The other day a friend of mine called me sobbing. At first I thought something terrible had happened to someone in her family. My mind raced with possibilities before she was able to get the words out.

“I need you to tell me it’s going to be OK!” She cried into the phone. “I need to know that dropping them off gets easier!” 

She had just dropped her 2-year-old daughter off at her first day of daycare. 

I knew precisely what she was going through. In January, Emory started going to school for a few hours three days a week. It wasn’t a full time thing, it wasn’t ever meant to be, but I felt it was just enough time for everyone involved.

But it wasn’t easy. I thought about how I felt when Em first started school and how many of you made me feel better. It was time to pay it forward.

I began by letting her know what I have come to realize over the past five months: sending Em to school was one of the more rewarding decisions we’ve made. Emory has thrived because of it. (His mama has as well!) I told my friend that I cried too and I know exactly how difficult it is but that one day in the very immediate future she’s going realize she made a good decision, if not a great one. 

Naturally, I assured her that it gets much, much easier. And then I joked that I’ve been crying all over again—not because he’s going school, but because we only have three weeks left!

By the end of the conversation we were both laughing.

It’s true. Em is finished with school in three weeks. The truth of the matter is, Emory has absolutely flourished at school. He has come such a long way in the time he’s been there. I know this is normal; kids are supposed to learn a great deal as they near age two, but this seems different to me. Emory regularly comes home and does something weird yet adorable and Toby Joe and I look at each other suggesting that the other must be responsible only to realize he learned it at school.

Take Laurie Berkner’s “We are the Dinosaurs” song. (See it on YouTube here.) Without school, my family never would have marched together like dinosaurs, a pastime we’ve come to revere as a family, like sitting down to dinner together or sharing an ice cream cone. 

And I have school to thank for “The Goodbye Song” which we sing at least a dozen times each day. No joke.

(This next part is falls into that “MY KID IS SO SMART!” territory and I promised myself I would not become that parent, but if this were a court case, it would be admitted as evidence in defense of preschool.)

Emory knows the entire alphabet and has for months. Yes, we take a little credit for that, both Toby and I have been going over the alphabet with him since he was 6 months old. We also count with him a great deal, which is why he counts everything from fingers and toes, to the number of blueberries on his plate. (Numbers are his thing, which means he’s definitely his father’s son.) School had a great deal to do with his education as well.

Probably the most important aspect to his development is the social one. Emory is a little on the self-conscious side and can come off a little shy. I’ve written about this before. But school has allowed him to really shine. It helps he’s with the same eight kids every day (same three teachers, too). He has come to know them and love them. There have been several times we’re on the playground and one of his classmates shows up and they go completely crazy the moment they see one another.

I swear to you, I haven’t ever been so heart-warmed in all of my life. 

And I’ve changed too! I met one of my closest friends because of Emory’s school. As a matter of fact, my life is going quite well right now. I have found a wonderful group of friends whom I absolutely adore, one of which I hang out almost every day and our kids play awesome together. 

My life is going really, really well and because of that, I think Em is happier too.

So, yes, I have been crying just a little bit because we will have to say goodbye to a really great experience. He’ll no longer play with the same kids every week. He now runs to his teachers every morning and we’ll be saying goodbye to them as well. And all those strange things he does at home where we’re asking one another, “Where did he pick that up!?” won’t happen as much. At least not for a while.

While on the phone with my friend reassuring her that everything was going to be better than OK, I realized something about my situation: I think that the last day of school is going to be equally as emotional for me as the day I dropped him off.