Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Separation Anxiety

Yesterday was the day we've been looking forward to and dreading all summer. Really since Charlie was born, actually, though what started out as "Man, will it be great when he's in all-day school!" when he was a mischievous toddler turned, this summer, into "How on earth is he going to go to ALL DAY SCHOOL?!" I got most of my angst out of the way last week, fortunately. It just occurred to me that all the get-to-know you activities they have the week before school might not be entirely for the children, if you know what I mean.

We were all up early to see Charlie off to school. I am not pleased that he has to be at school at the same time we're usually wandering downstairs for bananas in our pajamas, by the way. Charlie seemed to sense that Ryan and I are unreliable in the waking up on time department and requested an alarm clock, which we bought at Target the other day. He woke up to the alarm, hit snooze, and then got out of bed and put on his chosen first day of school outfit. I was amazed! What have all of you been complaining about? Actually, I now know what you have been complaining about because this morning did not go as smoothly. This morning I dressed a lifeless fifty pound child still in bed then he ate breakfast in the car we were so late. So much for the soothing morning routine they suggested at the "Let Go and Let Grow" seminar we attended yesterday.

It was so exciting when we got to school and saw all the other kids. The other kids are huge, by the way. At Charlie's old school, all the other kids were two feet tall. These kids were big! And fast! And approaching puberty! Are you sure we're in the right place?

We took a picture near the entrance.


And then showed him to his classroom and paparazzied him while he hung up his backpack.


And then all four of us followed him to his table and watched him open his pencil box.


And then it seemed like he was settled in enough and we walked out, not making eye contact with each other, lest the dam break. We joined some of the other kindergarten parents in a reception at the library where James wiggled out of the stroller, helped himself to a mini muffin, then climbed back up into the stroller to eat it, which was WAY TOO GROWN UP for my taste. STOP IT, ALL OF YOU.

I took Wes and James to the Y for a workout and then we went home so James could nap and Wes could vent his every negative emotion about Charlie's absence on me! For example, his Thomas track did not work exactly as he'd envisioned and he sobbed miserably for an hour, refusing any kind of comfort or distraction. I tried holding him, turning on the TV, offering him lunch, offering him Sonic for lunch. Finally I just let him lie on the floor whimpering while I made James some lunch and after about fifteen minutes he came into the kitchen and asked me for a bowl of yogurt between hiccups.

Also, I learned yesterday that Wes cannot operate the TV or open the van door. I told him he could watch a show but when he turned on the TV it was in DVD mode. Usually Charlie fixes that, so Wes just walked away sadly and played with his (still not up to his specifications) train tracks. Poor baby.

We were a little bit early when we went to pick Charlie up as I had allowed enough time to run to the post office on the way but Wes refused to put his clothes on and we ended up leaving too late to go to the post office but too early to get to school at a normal time. We spent about ten minutes sitting in the shade watching the doors and wondering how his day was. Wes told me "Waiting is SO HARD."

Finally Charlie's teacher emerged from the building and she held the door as the kids marched out behind her. I said "Look Wes, there's his class!" and he was off like a rocket. He ran as fast as he could and joined Charlie in line well before the class was dismissed to the pickup area. When he got there he didn't really know what to do so he just stood right next to Charlie and soaked up his presence.


Charlie had a great day, making friends, eating in the cafeteria, going to art class, reading with his teacher, and playing on the playground. His teacher sent home a little bag with a book for him to practice reading at his own pace then turn in for a new book. He gave us the who-got-in-trouble report. When I asked him about the beeping noise I kept hearing over the PA system he told me "That annoying bell tells you what time it is."

And then we walked back to the car together. I turned around to check on them as we approached the road and they were hand in hand.


This is a huge adjustment for our whole family. I was up from two to three last night fixating on the sound the back door makes when the kids run in and out. In and out, in and out. It drives me crazy when they open and close that stupid door over and over, usually because I'm doing something inside, like cooking or laundry, and they're playing outside and I want them to stay outside and stop interrupting me, but I loved our mornings together when they played outside and I got things done inside. And then maybe lunch out and some quiet reading time on the couch while James sleeps. They loved to read on the couch, Charlie on my right and Wes on my left, both squeezed in tight. We'd finish two books and then they'd run and each pick out two more. We had a nice routine. A slow, not very productive routine, but a comfortable and pleasant (most of the time) routine.

I am really going to miss him, but I think Wes is hurting more than any of us.


Alyssa said...

Aww :( So heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time. Hopefully you'll all get used to the new normal quickly and find a new routine that works for everyone.

gina said...

That hand in hand picture kills me. Hope your routine soon finds a new sense of normalcy.

Jessica said...

Oh, man. This is heartbreaking. I know my little guy would be lost without his big sister.

A. said...

Isn't it crazy how much of an adjustment it is, even when a child has been going to preschool or daycare? I did not expect it! Our youngest is feeling a bit lost without her big brother (even with daycare to distract her), and I'm having some separation anxiety, too :-). I'm sure it will get easier for all of us. Glad Charlie had such a good first day at school, and Wes survived his first day without him. Hang in there!

SnarkyMommy said...

Poor Wes! But I can't imagine how freaking excited Charlie is to be there. Kindergarten is SUCH A GREAT YEAR. I love it for Jack, can't wait for Emmie next year. They just learn so much.

Anonymous said...

Wes should learn to be big brother to James, as Charlie is to him.

sarah said...

Oh poor Wes! Being an "only" and having an "only," it never occurred to me what a huge adjustment it would be to have the older sibling start school. I hope it gets easier soon.