The First Day of School: Who is it Harder On?
As a parent, I learned early on that changes in routine and transitions to a new routine can create upheaval in a child’s world. And depending on the type of transition, changes can be equally as unnerving for Mom – regardless of how anticipated they are.
Last week my two-year-old daughter went from full-time care with a sitter, to spending half-day in a pre-school like class, and the remainder of the day with the sitter. At first glance, this may seem like an inconsequential change in, but it turned out to be anything but that.
I thought I had worked through every detail of this arrangement, down to whether or not her lunch box would fit into her tiny little backpack. In the days leading up to starting school, I told Ellie,“Pretty soon, you will go to school every day when Mommy goes to work, and then Jilly (her babysitter) will come pick you up from school!”
I obsessed about what I should pack in a lunch for a 2-year-old, who is only in the 7th percentile for her weight, and can be finicky eater on occasion.
Turkey roll-ups with American cheese…good, good…pretzels and hummus…apple sticks? Check. Ummmm…peanut butter and jelly on crackers? Sounds good enough. Juice boxes? Check. Fruit squeezey packs? Check.
I even made sure that I placed a Post-it pad and Sharpie marker in the cabinet where I keep her juice boxes so I could send little love notes in her lunch (even though she can’t read yet).
So on the eve of the first day of school, I packed our lunches to ease the morning rush. That morning, I woke up before the sun rose, got Ellie up, got her breakfast ready, got into the shower, and when I got out Ellie was crying.
Okay, okay, I expected some transitional anxiety.
She had tears running down her face, “No mommy, please don’t go to work. I don’t want to go to school. I want to stay in Ellie’s house with mommy.”
My heart broke into a thousand pieces, and I had one of those mom moments where you become totally irrational and think, “Yep…that’s it. I will quit my job and stay with you for every waking moment of every day, forever. So what if we have to live in a box on the street? It’s better than leaving you when you look this sad…”