Monday, June 21, 2010

SCHOOL!!! DAY ONE!!!

"How do you thank a child who makes things much easier for you than expected?" I thought to myself while driving to work after dropping Talinn off at school for the very first time this morning. Overwhelmed by cathartic relief after many sleepless nights and stressful days leading up to the moment where we parted ways with Talinn at school.

On the eve of the first day of school, Talinn was overheard telling Annu maasi on the phone that "I'm a big boy and I'm going to go to school by myself tomorrow. No more mommy and nanu." We were impressed. All our coaching seemed to be working great thus far.

Monday morning dawned bright and happy. Talinn was beyond excited to go to school. We switched on Caillou to speed up the milk drinking and as luck would have it, Caillou was also heading off to school. As soon as he heard that, Talinn promptly switched off the TV, peeled off his night clothes, and asked to be hurried into his school clothes. After all, he had to keep up with Caillou's agenda. Who says TV is bad for kids?

We were at school a half hour before schedule at 8:30 am, just in case we needed extra time to settle in. In the car, Talinn listened to his favorite French Playground CD and belted out french songs that he cannot pronounce or understand really. The school should be able to fix that soon :-)
We signed in and entered room 112. Teachers Marie and Leila were cheerful and welcoming. Talinn introduced himself without trepidation and, upon invitation from his teachers, headed straight to the kitchen area to play. They were surprised to hear that this was his first time ever at school. He certainly wasn't behaving that way! Nana and I waved our goodbyes, promised to pick him up later, and instructed him to tell the teachers when he needed to use the bathroom. And that was that! Just like that he had waved us goodbye. No drama, no big bawls, nothing! We were proud and shocked but still nervous.
Those three hours were agonizing as we waited, praying not to get called from school, wondering what Talinn was up to. I was promptly there at noon and the receptionist told me that Talinn had cried a few times. She had offered to take him to the school office to cheer him up but when he went there he said he wanted to go to his "daddy's office".

When I entered the classroom around noon, the kids were sitting around the teacher reading a story. Talinn turned around and saw me. I will never forget the look on his face. His face broke into the most radiant smile that instantaneously liquified into the loudest torrent of tears. He came running to me and cried louder than I've ever heard him. Relief! I could feel his relief! An outpouring of all he had done came out of his mouth - he had played, made drawings, sung songs - but he had also cried... because he thought "mommy will not come back to pick me up". If it wasn't for the fact that we were still in the classroom, I would have bawled as loudly as him. But I calmed him down. Then he went around saying loud goodbyes to his teachers, promising them that he'd be back the next day and would not cry any more. Amen to that!

My heart lurches at the thought of a three year old who has no concept of time living three long hours with total strangers in a completely strange place not knowing where his parents have gone or when or if they will be back. It cannot be easy. No matter how much you prepare them, how can you prepare them for the actual experience, for the separation anxiety, for the ability to feel confident that their parents will return at some point. On our way back, just before he collapsed into a nap, Talinn said to me in an uncharacteristically small voice, "mommy I'm so happy you came to pick me up."On a more interesting note, our banjara baby (gypsy) is attending a french immersion summer camp called "Globetrotter" at school (hence the airplane cap craft seen above). I love the way themes come together in life. Call it perfect coincidence but I think some things are just meant to be. Tomorrow is another day and I wish my darling all the very best in his lifelong journey of education and discovery and globetrotting.

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