Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A Belated First Day

If you had asked me last spring where we'd be this fall, I'd have told you: moved! It never occured to me that law firms wait to hire new attorneys until after they know if the candidate has passed the Bar or not. Like, DUH! Silly me. So here it is, nearly October, and Nicholas was not enrolled in preschool. We didn't know where we'd be so chose not to enroll him in his beloved school for fall term. Stupid mistake - we loved that school! And now it's too late: his spot is long gone, plus we've lost our student discount and the price jumped out of our range anyway. WAAAHHH! We'd kept Nicholas enrolled in preschool all summer, knowing there would likely be a gap when we moved. But here it is, 6 weeks later, and we're not moving anytime soon.

So what to do?? I've debated this around and around in my head: Is it better to just let him stay home with me fulltime until we've moved and gotten settled somewhere - I mean, he is just 4 and it's not like skipping school will prevent him from going to Harvard or anything. Or, do we enroll him somewhere else for the few months we remain? Would it be a rougher adjustment on him to have to start new somewhere, then leave and have to start all over again at a new place? After much thought I've done a complete 180. I've gone from being certain it was better to just wait to enroll him until we've moved, to deciding that he needs to be in school NOW. So that's what I did. I checked into a few places and found a very suitable preschool located on the campus of our district high school. He's going 2 mornings a week (Tues/Thurs). I had planned on him attending 3 mornings/wk when he was 4, but 3 mornings is *just* outside of our budget, and they didn't have room for him Mon/Wed/Fri anyway. So this is a good compromise. It's the same schedule he had at his first school so the routine remains the same. Today was his first day.

He was funny this morning, saying he's "a little bit nervous" about going to his new school. We checked it out together last week and he told me he'd "try it one day and see if he liked it." He was very reluctant as we left the house, but once we got there and the teachers were so warm and welcoming to him he forgot about being nervous and instead got very excited. It was fun to see. It was hard to pull Lauren out of there to leave - she was deep into playing with the blocks....

His hours at 7:30am - 11:45 and for $20/day you get a snack and a hot lunch. Not the cheapest preschool around, but reasonable. I'm just used to student rates, I guess. We paid about $27/wk, including lunch, for 10 hrs time before. So this is nearly double - yikes! But then again, the KinderCare down the street was charging $65/wk for 2 mornings, so that is the other extreme, I guess. When I showed up to pick him up we snuck into the observation booth so I could watch him without him knowing I was there. He was his usual cheerful self, happily eating a quesadilla family style and very proud of himself for pouring his milk into a cup without spilling. It was clear all was well. We went around to the proper entrance and Lauren rushed to play with a basket full of plastic animals while Nicholas finished his lunch. I met a few of the other teachers - surprisingly, half were men, and just soaked it all up. I was told he had a very good first day - no problems. It what I expected to hear - Nicholas is a pro at school having already gone for a year. After he was finished with his lunch he was told that he needed to brush his teeth. What??! We didn't know to bring a toothbrush.... no worries - they provide them and the kids brush their teeth after every meal. Awesome! It's little things like that that make me love preschool!

To celebrate his successful first day ("Mama, can I go back to my new school again? It was fun!"), Nicholas was rewarded with his favorite treat these days: a Slurpee from 7-11. His father introduced these to him and he loves them. Everytime we drive past a 7-11 I have to listen to him plead for one . He was thrilled to get one and it capped a very fun first day. And, while he was at school I was able to take Lauren to toddler storytime at the library, something we had been doing together every week while Nicholas was in school. It was nice to get to start that up with her again.

I'm confident my decision to put him back into a new school, even for a short time, was the right choice. All of his other little friends are in school, so playdates aren't happening. He's bored and making me crazy. He needed more stimulation and creativity than I was able (or willing?) to provide at home. He adapts easily and makes friends quickly, so this will be an easy transition for him. As long as he knows what's coming, he's good. And I LOVE looking forward to seeing my child again after a few hours vs. counting the minutes until it's nap or bedtime and I can get a break from him.

I used to LOVE the first day of school, and I guess I still do!

Good for you guys!! I am sure he is loving school. I am sure you will not regret sending him, even for a short time.
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