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The first goodbye: drop off at "big-boy" school

I've done it twice before now (with his two older sisters), dropping off for the very first time in a larger big-kid school-type setting.  And, even since their respective "firsts" at school, I have we have had first drop-offs at other new schools, camps, classes.  I seemed to get easier with each progressive "goodbye".

But, the very first time?  It's hard.

My boy started at his new preschool today.  Until this point, he's been in small scale settings, mostly in-home care, with close family friends.  Today, he went to a place - a big (pre-)"school" - where not only he knew no one: I also knew no one.  We entered and did not know where to sign in.  We didn't know where to go: whether to go somewhere to wait for circle time or outside to play.  We didn't know where to put blankets, dipes, lunches, jackets.  And what about the papers, permission slips, authorization forms?  I realize now that they all came back with me.  We stumbled around, asked, found our way.  All the while, the boy gripped my finger so, so hard, observing everything with big quiet eyes.

I was getting impatient with this whole drop-off exercise that I hurriedly put things away, swerved through other children, many of whom seemed to be coming back to the school they left a summer, and gave a hasty goodbye instead of a firm handoff to a new caretaker.  In the back of my head, I knew it would all be fine, though I wished, wished, wished for a more fairytale send-off where there were no tears, no confusion, no sinking feelings.  On the other side of the school gate, I crouched and listened to my boy cry.  I strained to hear what his teacher was saying.  She was singing to my boy, while also guiding other children with their activity.  Indeed, this was what we signed up for.  There were no promises of one-on-one attention.  My boy became silent, and, when I peered through the gate slats, I saw him standing, watching the other children play.

I feel sad.  I felt so sad when I got home that I cried.  I did not expect this, he being my third child and all.  It was so hard.

Did you have a first "goodbye" and drop-off today?  Or, maybe it felt like one?


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I think it's very understandable you would feel this way with RJ -- not only is he out of his element and the environment where you know and trust the other parents and love their children, but YOU are out of your element too, and used to feeling part of a community. now, you're the newbie, even though it is your third child. I'm sorry and hope it gets better :(

my drop-off today, of Truman to the neighborhood school first grade, was bittersweet. I'm half-hopeful and mostly thrilled that I'm finally in the "normal" track I thought I would have taken for the past four years, but got sent off abruptly when Everett began having so much trouble in kindergarten. I know a few of the parents, even went to high school with the mom of another little boy in Truman's class. but a group of other mothers gathered in the hall -- they all knew each other from last year and were already friends. I felt a little like the new girl in my own neighborhood; I dearly wanted to break into their conversation and introduce myself, but it was too awkward and they were clearly focused only on their own relationships. Will I make this normal thing work? Will Truman get along with his classmates? Will I like the teacher? Will I find friends? This social anxiety never seems to change.

(As Truman and I rode to school today, he said, "I hope no one in my class hates me this year." Anxiety -- and the black/white social impressions of autism spectrum kids -- are really rough! I have higher hopes than that!)

I had a very similiar experience this morning with my daughter. First day, first time in a new school, in second grade. The only person she knew in the whole school was her teacher. She kept telling me that she had butterflies in her tummy and I didn't lie and told her that I did too... it's true--I did! I was overwhelmed with so many emotions and at one moment, I literally wanted to swipe her in my arms and just go home for the day! I honestly can not believe how hard this morning was for me. I kept reassuring her that she will make friends, and she will be just fine and my hope is that, by now, she has. But she hasn't been off my mind for a minute today and I can't wait until 2:15 rolls around so I can go and pick her up. Wow...and to think my little guy starts kindergarten on Friday...I am seriously gonna be a wreck!

I hope you are settling in well in your new place. This post hit so close to home for me today...thanks!

I wish I could tell you it gets easier as they get older! I dropped my girl off for her first day of high school today. She went out-of-neighborhood for middle school, and none of the kids she spent the past 3 years with are attending her high school. She is both nervous and excited, but I'm a weepy mess (so not my style, either!) I wish I could sneak in a call or a text to see how things are going for her, or peek through the windows at lunch to make sure she's not sitting alone.

I dropped off a kindergartner and 2nd grader today at a new-to-us school. My kindergartner was so eager and excited, that it was much easier than I could have imagined. My elder, well, he is still pretty upset at the change in schools and was dreadful the entire morning. Up late crying, grumbling too much to eat anything substantial for breakfast, and pushing every possible button. But...when we got to school and he saw friends, he began to smile and I think he'll be all right. Thankfully their teachers have been lovely and I knew a few of the moms already, so it wasn't so bad.

It's been so hard listening to my guy complain about the change when I knew exactly how he was feeling. Obviously he didn't realize that I too would be in a new place, and have to make new friends, and learn new routines. I tried telling him that and, of course, that justified why the decision was bad, so I had to just manage that on my own. It's really hard to be the newbie sometimes. I'll be really glad when I feel more settled. I hope it gets better for you as well!

This drop off felt like it was just another school day from last year. He wanted to go in by himself, give things to his teacher on his own, no hug, no goodbye even! Coffee and conversation afterwards helped, but, I wonder what this second grade year will hold for both of us. Same teacher, same kids- could be more settling for him and ready to really learn much more? I hope so! Tomorrow I'm going to grab him and give him a hug for today and tomorrow. And remember to take the camera for a beginning of school year picture by the school sign near the front door, just like I did for first grade. This week will be better, hugs to you and RJ!!

Oh Olivia! I sent Persephone off to her first day of school today too (though it is not a big school, it is uncharted territory for us nonetheless) and I have not yet shed a tear until reading about your experience with RJ. You have such a successful history of finding excellent places for your children, I can only imagine that this new school is wonderful as well. I love that the teacher was singing to him when he was distraught. He will do great, and you will be fine. I miss you guys, especially RJ :)

OMG that was a heart-wrenching story to read. I hope that you and your son are doing much better now. It usually is just the first day that is like that.

Thank you all! I appreciated letting myself share my story and hear the words we all know to be true "It will all be great". When he got home last night, although he doesn't really speak in full sentences, anytime anyone mentioned "school", his ears perked and he said, "School? Fun!"

There were still tears at drop off today, but they were short-lived and exacerbated by another tearful child. There probably would have been fewer/no tears without the outside pressure. Each day will get easier.

Wishing us all luck on transitioning from tearful to tear-free!

I sent my daughter to her first day of kindergarten, her brother to pre-preschool, today. I was planning for a calm send off, but alas, things went awry - starting with their grown sister missing her flight that morning, her father not being home to co-sign paperwork, breakfast refusals and last minute wardrobe changes -- She swearing that she wouldn't ever make any new friends.

So, I made them hand made cards (shaped like a heart) with a little love notes on them, and tucked it into their backpacks. I told my daughter that if she felt lonely or scared, she had my heart with her. And it worked! She calmed down.

When I came to pick them up, my son was clutching his, and said, "Mama Heart. Wuss Nurse Now."

Honestly, first day was awesome for us! But we've been excited and anticipating everything since May! Why? Because through a hardship application, my daughter had her first day at Da Vinci.

We had spent the day before having a mommy daughter day and picking out outfits, planning her lunch, etc.

Although the bus was delayed (I was teaching her the route, now she's got it down), we still made it on time---and arrived to a dazzling welcome display of stilt walkers, jugglers, music and mardi gras beads.

She was still thrilled when I picked her up and relieved to discover a good, 7th grade friend takes the same route.

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