The picture above is a big deal. Why, you ask? Because today was Dakota’s first day going to preschool solo and that’s her outside of my car with her teacher. Without me.
I know you can’t tell that she wasn’t crying, but she wasn’t. Neither can you tell that just before I took this picture she hopped out of the van and turned around to wave goodbye to me. If I hadn’t been there to see it I certainly wouldn’t believe it, but it’s true.
As she walked into the building I sat dumbfounded for a few seconds before remembering there were a bunch of other cars with anxious mom’s and kiddo’s waiting to have their first day at preschool too. But, I wanted to drink in this little success because it sure hadn’t been easy getting here.
Dakota has always been my shadow. She’s always clung to my side and felt safest holding onto my leg or neck or whatever was closest and available. It’s just always been that way and it’s become a tough habit to break. It’s not that I don’t want to hold her and let her know that she’s loved and important but I need her to know that she’s loved and important even when I’m not there to tell her. She needs the confidence to go out into the world without my hand leading the way…and preschool seems like the perfect opportunity to do so.
She’s going to the same co-op that Harper attended and if there is anywhere I feel safe leaving my kids, it’s there. I know the people there are kind and loving and there because they truly want to be. I know they will treat Dakota as they would their own children and help us along every step of the way. Sometimes Dakota is going to need the extra push, sometimes it’ll be me.
When I went to pick her up and entire 2 1/2 hours after dropping her off, it was like heaven seeing her playing on the playground with the other kids. She wants nothing more than to play with other kids her age and this moment of watching her do just that was heartwarming. She’s always had Harper here to play with and now that he’s at school all day this is her opportunity to make new friends and expand her play.
As I sat in the van watching her, the teacher had all the kids line up and sit in a row while she got their bags ready for them to go home. As soon as Dakota spotted my van she started to wave wildly and she had the biggest grin on her face! She began yelling to me about what she’d been doing and although I couldn’t really hear her I could tell she’d enjoyed herself.
When it was her turn to go home, she was all smiles! She was proud of herself and the second she got in the van she started telling me all about her day. (She cried and covered her eyes with her arm but then it was playtime and she was happy and she did art and got paint on her hand and she liked the kids and playing outside. That’s pretty much verbatim what she said and all in one breath just like it’s written!) Her teacher said she did cry a little and didn’t want to cooperate when it came time to sit on her mat. (I had a feeling she wouldn’t like circle time because sitting is not her strong point!) Her teacher said she tried to coax her back to the mat but when she wouldn’t join she ignored it and Dakota settled into a spot by the bookcase and watched what was going on. Eventually Dakota got tired of hiding her face and rejoined the group so all was not lost. :)
Post preschool picture: Girlfriend was TIRED!
I’d say that the whole experience went about 500 times better than I’d thought it would. Sometimes it does me good to be surprised like this because it reminds me of how brave and strong my kids really are. I need that reminder every once in awhile. Fingers and toes crossed that Thursday is just as easy as today was!