He went a total of four days for this session, separated over two weeks. He was in "school" for 4 hours and ate lunch there. I picked him up, brought him home and put him down for a nap. He desperately needed this. He needs to be in a program with structure and a schedule along with the social interaction that early preschool really does encourage. He also needed to be with other adults that were not Mom and Dad.
It wasn't time for a pedicure and coffee dates, however. I still had little sister to work with, but if I played my cards right, I did manage to get some errands run and a few things crossed off the ol' to-do list.
- The first was about me. This was the first time I signed my son in with strangers (aside from 1-hr at church where we are just feet away) and left for a number of hours. It was not as uncomfortable as I thought, but I did think it was strange that I knew nothing about these teachers he would spend his day with! Being a teacher, I was always the one who cared for the kids and released them at the end of the school day to their parents. Yes, my students were considerably older and literate, but it was an odd feeling.
- I picked him up on the first day and he was sitting at the head of the table of 8 kids (all girls but him!), holding the teacher's hand and touching her shiny jewelry. The kid loves attention. The teacher told me, "He loves talking, telephones, and shiny things." Nailed it.
- I loved that he had lunch there, but felt odd about packing him a lunch. It was so foreign to me that he would take a lunch somewhere and eat it with other people! I also felt uncomfortable because my son is a terrible eater. He just never wants food-- only snack foods. The 1st day he ate everything I provided (sandwich, milk, yogurt). The 2nd day, I gave a bit more (sandwich, squeeze pack applesauce, Snapeas crispy things, milk). They sent the sandwich back home with him. Since he didn't eat it, I decided to send less snacks and just the main foods I wanted him to eat on day 3 because clearly the teachers were not pushing the sandwich as much as the snack foods. The 3rd day, he ate the whole sandwich and yogurt and all of his milk. When I picked him up, the teachers said, "He was starving!" He ate it all and tried to steal other kids' food and recommended I send more snacks. Ahhh! He also begged for more crackers at snacktime (um, my kid loves crackers, even if he is full). So on Day 4, I sent a sandwich, yogurt, crackers, Snapea crispy things, strawberries and milk. He ate 95% of it all. Seriously, the kid ate SIX bites of dinner last night. Total. School is a magical place.
- When we came home and were talking just before naptime on Day 3, I asked if he played outside (the only non-rainy day of the four days!). He responded, "Oh, sorry. No no bite." I would assume that the teachers would have told me he was a biter rather than placing a huge emphasis on him "starving" instead? It's totally funny how although he doesn't have language mastery, he can communicate a bit of something that occurred. Maybe it was just him overhearing a conversation or repeating what the teacher was telling the bulk of students? It's not really much different than what my 4th & 5th graders probably went home and told their parents on many occasions. A big, ol', misunderstanding.
- When I picked him up on the 4th day, he had a huge smile on his face and the first thing out of his mouth when I walked in was "FUN!" Oh man. The kid is going to be so sad to know there is no more school until late August.
The transition from teacher to parent is definitely humbling and mildly uncomfortable. Benjamin is my son, but he makes his own choices in life. What he does in 4 hours with other people has some reflection on who I am as a parent to him, but ultimately he is his own being making his own decisions. It's hard not to feel the pressure though, especially coming from my teacher shoes. It should be interesting when the years press on and the teacher-parent relationships really start to warm up. I already feel tense.