First Day of School

No Telling

Tomorrow is the first day of school for everyone in the No Telling household. I’ll meet my nervous freshman comp students for the first time and Em will be all over the same campus taking this and that as she feverishly works at getting that degree under her skinny belt.

Nothing new there.

What’s new is that tomorrow morning The Perfect Grandson will attend his very first day of daycare/preschool. He’s two years old, a charming rascal beloved by all, and has never been taken care of by anyone outside of our close family. Oh my.

You mamas out there know exactly what I’m talking about. Em’s already worked herself up into a pre-first-day state where she envisions the worst – choking hazards, split lips, crying jags – the whole shebang. Why, she’s even thrown herself past the immediate and well into the future. Soon, Mom, he’s going to be in kindergarten, and then high school and then some wench [sic] will take him away from me forever.

And she’s right. That’s exactly what will happen, but not tomorrow. My experienced motherhood tells me that she’ll drop him off in the morning and cry much harder than he will, because kids are funny like that. When class is over she’ll fly to the daycare to hug him more tightly than he’ll want or allow. He’ll show her around, punch his new friends affectionately, come home with a few new words and nasty habits.

That’s how it works. There are women all over the world dropping their womb-babies off with strangers for the first time. All that common umbilical cutting doesn’t make it less excruciating for a first time mama. It doesn’t get any better, I suspect, with the second or the third.

I will not be a part of the dropping off and picking up tomorrow. That’s Em’s moment and she has a right to the love and pain of it. My job will be to comfort a weeping daughter, to give her a solid place to lean when the ground starts slipping underneath. It’ll be all right.

I‘ll make sure to to schedule my own moment behind a locked office door, neatly timed so I come out looking fresh for class. And for my daughter, who will never know I’m not the rock she believes me to be.

36 thoughts on “First Day of School

  1. While I was finishing my degree, I enrolled my youngest son in day-care. He begged me not to leave, and as I struggled towards the bus stop, it was always a struggle not to weep. The care-givers assured me that he would become accustomed to the routine, but he never did. I think that is one of the many tortures that mothers face in the modern world. By the way, my husband would avoid dropping him off at all costs. Bloody coward.

  2. Awww, Monda. Good luck to the both of you. And I hope Emily's Sprog is gonna be ok, actually, no, I'm sure he'll make it through completely emotionally intact and he may learn some nifty swear words while he's at it, so mostly I just hope Emily turns out o.k. It must be gutwrenching to see your baby go off alone for the first time…

    Luck and glitter and everything to everybody in the Monda camp.

  3. woh! goosebumps. i dont have any kids yet, but i can tell how you feel, its like what i felt when my little sister started pre-school. i was so protective of her. hope her first day would be fine. kudos to you for being such a cool mom.

  4. Lovely. Just lovely. We are in the throes of grandchildren also and your words sent chills through me remembering so many years ago of those first separations as those daughters ventured out into the big, wild world. Lovely. πŸ™‚ M

  5. Hi Mondo, that was a lovely piece that brought back those nostalgic moments. I remember clearly when I was a kid I didnt cry on my first day at the pre-school. I was scared, nonetheless, and was desparately hiding my fears. But on the second day the waning mask just couldn't stand the pressure anymore and started to give way.

    Guess its part of growing up for the kids and its totally a different story for the parents. Good luck on your new assignment. Cheers!

  6. Morefutility, it IS a torture for us. And I had a coward, too.

    Hi Kooky, thank you so much for the kind words. I'm feeling less like a rock and more like a wimp this morning, though. That's okay. I've got a little time yet.

    They are memorable, Max.

    Oh, Julia. This is me giving you a big hug.

    Mikethepikey, it will be a little less like dumping and more like extricating, I think. Yes, it IS scary.

    Let's wait and see how cool a mom I am, Pmm012. It's easy to be strong before it begins. Thanks so much.

    Amuseme, those separation memories are closer to the surface than we realize, aren't they? And the world is so much bigger than our arms.

  7. For three days before Max started pre-school, right before I got divorced, I cried for three days. Straight. Last year when I dropped Grace off for her first day of sixth grade, I bawled the whole way to work.

    I feel for Emily!! Tell her to take lots of kleenex and make sure she has her mascara with her so she can reapply after it all pours down her face.

  8. Hi..As everyone here does I loved ur blog.Hence I am following as the 562nd follower!!. I am just a beginner in this blogosphere. Dropby to my blog sometimes.

  9. Hi There! I found your blog today, and I read a bunch of entries. So from now on I am going to be a follower. You can stop by my blog once in a while if you would like!

  10. Update: The Perfect Grandson made it through the drop-off with nary a tear. Em, on the other hand, had to reapply her make up in the university parking lot before going to class.

    Steeled with a little food and armed with fresh mascara, I think she's going to make it. That doesn't mean she won't keep bursting into tears, it just means she won't abandon her classes and run to get him early.

    What a day.

  11. The first day of any schooling is far more traumatic for the parents by the kids. Last year I developed a nasty lump in my throat that seemed to be triggered by watching my middle child march off in a line, wearing her mandated plaid-jumper-and-sweater combo, blending in with the plaid-and-sweaters of 30-plus other jittery looking kindergartners past kisses blown and caught from a line of latte-bearing parents, all of us wearing sunglasses so the bright morning sun wouldn't make us tear up and miss the big moment.

    Then the older kid slouched by with nary a wave in my direction and I remembered: there truly is only one, honest-to-goodness First Day. The youngest has about four years before its her turn to don the hand-me-down plaid — the oldest will be a high-schooler then, old enough to drive, even. I'm sure I've got one last bit of blubbering in reserve for that time.

    This year, though, we're celebrating. It's been a long summer.

    Word verify: swablyse. v. to dab at the corner of one's eyes, carefully shielded by a pair of fogged-up sunglasses.

  12. Lovely. I am a young mother who struggles every day with leaving a weeping boy at daycare. And I do call my mom for scomfort. Never considered she might need some too.

  13. I am also a new mom who is going to drop her daughter off at day care this coming Monday. I'm already dreading it and thinking the worst. I, just like your daughter, am thinking about her leaving me permanently and how she won't need me as much anymore. Knowing how my heart will split open when she begins to cry as I leave is making me think about not dropping her off. I'm trying to convince my husband to do it all. It pains me to much to think that she won't have someone there to translate for her, and protect her.
    If only I could be irresponsible and not think about her future to justify me getting a degree.

  14. I just started following your blog, and I think it's awesome that your daughter has you for support! Will definitely be stopping by regularly πŸ™‚

  15. MP, I was so proud of myself when i dropped Em off for that first kindergarten day. She also went forth into the plaid youngster sea and I was so brave. At 3:30 I watched her march across the street in a line of backpacked, mussed up plaid kids and fell absolutely to pieces. Never saw it coming. Luckily, there were herds of women in the parking lot who'd been through this more often than I had. Tissues came out of minivans like they'd been expecting my crumbling moment all along. Lord.

    Thank you so much, Bri! Come on back anytime.

    Oh, Ivan. I'm not breathing a word about football until the day comes – and it will. You'll be interested to know that The Perfect Grandson has returned today with a new skill – dribbling a basketball. Let the games begin.

    Katy, bless your heart. I mean that. Keep calling your mama for comfort because that helps her, too. I promise.

    Book*addict, as hard as Monday is going to be for you, I swear she'll be okay. When you say your “heart will split open,” that's no exaggeration. It will. But it will knit together again. I always felt like I was giving my daughter away to the world, piece by piece. When she became a mother I realized that wasn't it at all. I was giving her to herself.

    Thank you, Chloe. Our little family has been a loving challenge. Let me tell you, I am awed every single day at the way Em mothers and loves and tackles the hardest parts of single-parenting. She is amazing beyond my ability to articulate it.

  16. I assume you plan on publishing all your essays in a book someday? Because I would buy it. And you might as well get Em on the same train, because apparently a gift with words is genetic.

    Instead of lamenting the fact that I didn't have a mother like you, I will instead focus my energy on being a mom like you. That seems fair, don't you think?

    And I will be wishing Em strength and resilience tomorrow. I've dropped my son (also a 2yr old) at daycare once. And only once. Because I couldn't do it. But luckily, we don't have to. Em needs to get that degree and she will be a better mom and person for it, even if it requires sacrifice now. I'll be thinking about her.

  17. Nanette, thank you. Seriously. I'm working on a novel right now and it's kicking my ass. Does anyone else hate rewrite a much as I do? Soon, though.

    And Em? I keep telling her she's got the gift and she keeps thinking it's just me doing the doting mom thing.

    Two year-old boys. I never had one around until now and let me tell you, there's nothing more mesmerizing. You're a lucky woman – and a good writer yourself. Love the blog.

  18. Oh Monda,
    You are so much more than a rock…you're a writing rock. I gave you props on my blog, and lookie, I learned how to leave my name and my blog site!

    You're my mentor.

  19. Yes, it IS heart-wrenching isn't it whether you are dropping off your baby at the kindergarten for the first time, or seeing your 28-year-old go off to another country for the first time on assignment, like I just did.

  20. I pay Mike to be in my fan club and say nice things. Just so you know.

    Anon, you're breaking my heart. It doesn't matter how old you child is, just that they're going far away and you're not there. I know you're carrying this around with you every minute like a pocket full of stones.

    I got a lot of parenting advice when I was a young mother, but I don't remember anyone telling me about this kind of painful letting go of an adult child.

    Did anyone ever tell us?

  21. Hey this is my first comment being like some others a “Newbie”
    Your blog is full of interest and makes good reading.
    My own Newbie blog is very very personal but I may get round to embroidering it if my advancing years permit me. Kind Regards

  22. Monda, I've read several of your entries, and loved them all. Your perfect grandson is just a year ahead of my Grand One, so you speak to my heart when you speak of him. There's just nothing sweeter this side of heaven than a grandson! There's also something really special about seeing our daughters grow into nurturing, wise, wonderful mothers, isn't there? I've just started this blogging thing myself, so I'm amazed at all your intricate, delicate, precise needlework here. Thanks for sewing things up so neatly!

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