We survived

Short version: Kent's first day was passable. Tomorrow will be better.

Long version:

Jack and I took him just before 9, and we were the first ones there. We talked to his teachers about the food we brought for him in case he didn't eat the turkey sandwiches at lunch, and threw in a couple of other nervous parent comments about his sippy cup with breastmilk in it, etc. Kent was getting nervous and knew something was up, but we stayed for a while as all the kids got to school and their parents kissed and hugged them goodbye without any tears. The kids in Kent's class have been there all year, so they're all close to age 2 and are moving up to the next class at the end of the summer. This means that Kent is surrounded by professionals, which I think will work in our favor, since he'll be around kids who are not only used to the routine, but who are also walking and (mostly) talking. Go, peer pressure.

Kent's main teacher invited Kent over to sit with her, and though I knew he was going to get upset, I thought, alright, we've been here for 15 minutes or so and we've got to leave sometime, so it might as well be now. She picked him up gingerly and was very sweet to him, but he started to cry. I knew we just needed to try to leave. So we both kissed him, and then we just walked out, and of course we heard his cries all the way down the hall.

Jack and I had decided a while ago that he'd just be late to work, and we'd go down the street to get a cup of coffee while we/I pulled ourselves together, then I'd go back to surreptitiously check on Kent. We did just that, trying to be lighthearted and convince ourselves that he probably wasn't still crying, though I felt almost sick to my stomach. We managed to enjoy some coffee and bagels and then decided to head back, and Jack ended up coming with me, since his car was still in the church parking lot. As we were walking up the stairs to the school, we could hear a very strained but persistent cry that we couldn't even identify as our son, but it was him, we learned when we came down the hall.

His teacher came out when she saw us coming so that we wouldn't have to show him we were there, and after she said that he hadn't stopped crying (for the 45 minutes we'd been gone), my heart sank. His cry was so strained and teary and just communicated utter exhaustion. She said it was up to me whether I wanted to leave or stay, but they were going outside in about 15 minutes, and I knew the change of scenery would be good for him, so I decided to stay until then and slip away after we had gotten to the playground. I came in to calm him down, and as I was holding a very sniffly Kent against my shoulder (seriously, those sniffles after he stops crying are SO sad), he saw Jack and started up crying again. Poor kid. Jack held him for a minute, then left to go to work, and some ABCs were all Kent needed to calm down that time. I played with all the kids on the floor with a few toys while the teachers cleaned up from snack time (of which Kent chose not to partake due to the crying), and then we all headed outside. Kent and I had visited once before when they were going outside, so I was aware of the production involved in getting some barely-walking kids down the stairs. It's pretty cute, actually, with them going one by one and all holding the low handrail, then waiting for each other at the bottom. I held Kent's hands and kind of jumped him down the stairs instead of carrying him, so he'd feel more like part of the group, and then we all walked out to the playground.

They have some little kid slides on top of some foamy stuff on the ground, so Kent and I sat on the foamy stuff and I edged away from him a bit while everyone else was playing. He stuck close to me for a few minutes, but then he saw how much fun everyone was having on the slides, so he started to crawl over toward them. A couple of the teachers helped him up the stairs and down the slide, and he had a great time until he saw me again and was like, "Oh, WAIT! I'm too far from my MOM!" He crawled back over and sat next to me for a little while longer, then decided to venture out again, and with that, I asked one of the teachers to help him slide while I snuck out. It actually worked. He didn't see me go, and he was obviously having fun, so I felt much better about leaving that time.

I ran a few errands, then came home and had all this nervous energy. I practically flung myself around the house to keep busy, blasting the stereo, cleaning the toilets, folding his diapers, playing with my flannels that I got in Atlanta, checking my email and blogs, taking a "break" to pump (which I still hate, but they were getting pretty full), eating lunch, and calling my grandmother. I decided just before 2 to head back; they can stay until 3, but I wanted to check on him and be able to take him home if he was still upset by that point.

I felt a huge surge of adrenaline when I was driving back to church and just wanted to get there quickly. I found myself flooring the gas several times, which was kind of strange for me. When I got there, I was pleased not to hear his screaming, and the lights were out for naptime. The day school director, who was in the office next door to his classroom, said he'd been crying off and on throughout the day but that the last time she peeked in, he was playing in his crib. Sigh of relief. When I stepped into the doorway, I saw him sitting on the lap of the teacher in the rocker, with all the other kids sacked out in the dark, and he started crying when he saw me. Not hard, just enough to let me know he had missed me. I talked to the teacher for a few minutes about his day; he had actually eaten some of his lunch, since they had mashed potatoes and peas to go with their turkey sandwiches, but he hadn't napped at all. I wasn't too surprised by that, since it takes a lot for me to get him down at home and he rarely naps for other people, but I do think he'll get into the habit soon once he relaxes a bit and realizes everyone else is doing it.

His teacher reported that my leaving the playground had been a great idea, because he had a lot of fun out there for a while until he started to miss me. I was glad I came back, but I had sort of felt like a clingy mom for coming back and staying for a while instead of just leaving for the whole day. She seemed to agree that it had worked well. I won't go back tomorrow until the end of the day, though, which will be pretty difficult, especially if he's crying when I leave.

He only ate some potatoes and peas and never drank any of his milk in his sippy cup, so he missed at least one feeding, and his diapers were never very wet for the rest of the day. I have a feeling he'll be up a lot tonight, whether from the stress of feeling unsettled or just from needing to catch up on his caloric intake, but we'll see how it goes.

So that's the long story. The brief synopsis is that he survived, I survived, and it'll get easier.

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Oh Erica!! I know how you feel. It was SO hard to leave E at school at the beginning of this year. And that was when he was 2.

is K going to be going everyday? or just a couple of days?
He'll be going Wednesdays and Thursdays, so we still have lots of time the rest of the week for fun Mommy/Kent stuff.

Thanks for the sympathy. It means a lot to know I'm not the only one who has trouble with this! =)
I almost cried too! I can't imagine how hard it is but I am sure it must get better. Hugs for everyone.
Oh, that sounds so hard! It sounds like easing in (e.g., coming back that 1st day) was the right decision. My dad still talks about when he would take me to daycare when I was about 3, and I would cry and the whole class would come over to the window with me to wave goodbye as he drove away - he said he felt so guilty and heartbroken. Hang in there!
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