Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A first day of school and a happy heart

Whenever Alena has done something brave, wonderful or, if we're having a really bad day, something not so bad that's a little ray of sunshine, I tell her she's made my heart happy. It's our thing.

Today, Alena, you made your mom's heart as happy as a mom's heart can be.

Faced with her first day of preschool, the first time she's spent any time away from home alone and her first experience being supervised by someone not related to her, she went "like a champ," to quote her daddy. I, on the other hand, was the chicken, leaving the dreaded "drop-off" up to dad.

For what it's worth, I knew I couldn't do it. I knew I couldn't leave my baby for her first day of school and not cry. I also knew my crying (even if by some miracle I maintained enough self-control to only reach the eyes-tearing-up stage before getting out of her sight) would lead to her crying. This is where dads excel. They somehow have the dad stamina to rein in the tears and attend to business.

Once at school, they put her backpack in its place, let her choose where she wanted to start playing, said their goodbyes and not a tear was shed. God bless her little heart, she made mine happy.

At 11:45 a.m. we were all there to pick her up. A smile on her face, happy to see us, she began answering all our questions. What did you do? Did you go potty on your own? Did you have a snack? We kept firing, and she kept answering.

She colored a picture, talked about today's weather, used markers, ate pretzels and played outside on the playground. Yes, she went to the potty, and no, she didn't have to ask the teachers for help. She has a yellow folder with her name on it to hold projects she's worked on and papers from the teachers.

"I cried because I missed my hopper," she reported (note to anyone not familiar with hopper: he's a pink stuffed bunny she has within shouting distance most any time; he's most useful when she's scared, hurt, tired or upset in any way).

When this crying occurred, how long it lasted and what brought it on we were unable to pin down exactly. "That's okay," I told her. "We'll hide hopper in your backpack on Thursday and you'll know he's in there if you need him."

This idea seemed to be enough to satisfy her, as she didn't seem particularly troubled by the crying episode in hindsight. More importantly, though, when we talked about going back to school on Thursday, there was nary a moment of hesitation.

As I tucked her into bed tonight, I gave her the biggest hug ever and told her she had made my heart happy today by being such a big girl. Until she's got a little girl and a happy mom heart of her own, she won't know how much that means.


Katie @ CiN said...

What a sweet and touching post!

Aunt Mandy said...

Please give all of my babies kisses for me and make sure you let Alena know how very proud her Aunt Mandy is of her!!!!