Moms Talk: First Day of School Freak Outs

How I learned (the hard way) that it's better to say a "quick goodbye."

My heart raced as I peered through a window on the school gym door. Moments earlier, I had dropped my son off for his first day of preschool. It was a painful goodbye.

He had cried and reached for me as I bravely handed him off to the teacher.  In retrospect, I should have just left, but I wanted to make sure that he was okay. I took shelter in the gymnasium.

I waited for someone, anyone, to walk by so I could beg them to peek in at my son. An unsuspecting stranger passed and I jumped in front of her. She was kind enough to check on my poor child but her report wasn't comforting. "Umm, he's crying, but it gets easier, I promise."

I was the lone mom who remained at the school. When the children went out to the playground, the director invited me sit at her desk to watch my son play out of a tiny window in her office.

Big mistake. My little stinker tried to escape under the fence. He kicked until he busted open the gate and ran across the parking lot. His teacher chased him in circles and finally snatched him up. The director handed me a tissue and told me to go home.

To say that the first day of school was traumatizing for us would be an understatement. I knew that it would go smoother when he started at a new school the next year. After all, he was a year older and we'd survived plenty of separation during his first year of preschool.

Imagine my surprise when I found myself hiding in the bushes next to his classroom. His teacher had pried him from my arms  and saved me from a pretty impressive tantrum that involved yet another escape and a heated chase. All around us, peaceful children walked to class and their parents looked on in terror as I chased my rampant child. Luckily, his teacher heard the commotion and came to the rescue.

So there I was once again, crouched and hidden, waiting for a stranger to walk by so I could beg them to check on my son. Yet, as the leaves poked into my back, I realized that the best thing for me to do was to just go home.

My little one needed to make this transition on his own, without his crazed mom hanging around. The only person I hurt by sticking around was me. I built up all my nerve and left. When I picked him up hours later, he was all smiles.

I learned so much about myself in those moments of hiding on those first days of school. Now, so many years later, my three-year-old is starting preschool for the first time. I've made a promise to myself  to make our goodbye as quick as possible. It'll be better for both of us if I show him that I'm confident in him and trust his teachers. My plan is to kiss him on the cheek, walk away, and not look back.

Of course, on the off chance that someone reading this happens to find me hiding in the bushes in front of the school, I give you permission to snatch me up, pull the leaves from my hair, and tell me to go home.

The first day of school for DeKalb County Schools is August 13. Is the first day of school hard for your children? How do you handle the dreaded drop off? The separation? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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Camille August 05, 2012 at 04:56 PM
My son will be starting Kindergarten at a new school this year. Yes, I get just a little more nervous as the first day of school draws near; however, my son's pure excitement for new school year to begin helps to ease much of my anxiety.
Leslie Johnson August 06, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Thanks for the comment, Camille...I, too have a child starting kindergarten this year. I've got mixed feelings about it!
Pat Deas August 16, 2012 at 02:38 AM
I laughed the whole time while reading "Mom's Talk" and the antics she did, though it can be pretty traumatic.Having been a pediatric nurse in a clinic before, one of the biggest challenges is to encourage parents to allow their child to socialize with other children prior to pre-k. I've seen this problem esp. in parents of non-American cultures and/or overly-protective parents.Unless the child is being home-schooled, it's socialization skills outside the home should be started early.


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