"You can't fool me/I saw you when you came out/
You got your mama's taste but you got my mouth/
You will always have a part of me/
No one else is ever gonna see."
When I was in the middle of it, I wanted nothing but to get out. An expensive daycare, to which we wrote a huge check every month. The mashed up food and the biting incidents and diapers. A baby person I was not. A toddler person I was not. I counted down the days until we'd be through with it, talking about that seemingly far-off day when our years of planning and living in a good school system would come true.
So now it's here, but why am I crying?
Tomorrow I take my one and only child to daycare for the last time. It didn't hit me until today when we went to meet his new teacher in the elementary school. I thought I would be prepared for it. After all, he counts to 20 in Spanish and says words like "bibliophile." But then I walked into that new school. There was a long hallway and a lunchroom and a detailed sheet of supplies I had to label. The teacher greeted him warmly enough, but there was no doting. I'm a doter.
It was hot in the kindergarten classroom, and I had a hard time catching my breath as I sat in the teeny chair. Trying to make heads or tails about what to label, what to leave on his chair and what to put in his cubby ... well it seemed as tough as any assignment I've ever had. All the while, he chatted with familiar faces from our neighborhood and soccer.
"You're not a baby/Gracie you're my friend."
I asked the teacher my questions, especially about visiting him in the classroom. After Labor Day, she said. So kids who have attachment issues don't get upset (a policy I get, but don't love).
And it hit me: come Monday, I am going to leave my only child in the care of strangers for eight hours. I thought I'd be used to it because we've done a similar thing with daycare for four years.
But this feels different. There wasn't someone to cuddle him, and ask about his blanket, and let me walk him to the playground. There wasn't a set of teachers that knew my family for all its quirks. I guess these relationships take time to build and grow. I just sure hope that the people on the other end -- the ones who I'm entrusting him to -- care.
I found myself writing on the form, under "anything we should know about your child" how we share a love of reading, and how he's super inquisitive, mechanically gifted, and knows all of the essential Beatles. (OK, I left that last part off.)
"You nodded off in my arms watching TV/
I won't move you an inch even though my arm's asleeo.
One day you're gonna wanna go/
I hope we taught you everything you need to know."
After we'd put up his new nap mat and visited the lunchroom, I dropped him back off at preschool and drove back to work, wondering what I'd done. Have I made the right decision in sending him to this school? Did I do the right things the first five years of his life? Why did I ever wish for this day?
Why did no one tell me that even when you have a kick ass kid who has been in school since being a baby that kindergarten transition might evoke all of these feelings? I thought I was tougher, and I thought this would be easier.
I keep listening to this song from Ben Folds, which captures exactly how I feel now. Sigh. I know he's going to do great. Me, on the other hand, I'm not sure about.