5 Things We Learned on our Journey to Pre-K

Happy Monday! Ashley here to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming. We’re postponing our Week In Review Posts until tomorrow since today is a pretty momentous day in my household. Today is Cooper’s first official day of Pre-K. If you follow our snapchat (RAtheMOMachine) or have watched our Wine Wednesday Live Videos on our Facebook page (Rage Against The Momachine), then you have a little preview of what the journey to Pre-K has looked like for Coop – but I thought he deserved a little post of me droning on about how the time as flown … and of course a little insight into the things we had to learn along the way.

As I said today is Cooper’s first day of PreK. He’s been going to daycare/school since mid June. Half days. Today starts the real deal though. He’ll be there until I get off work at five to come pick him up. He’ll be there for naps. He’ll be there everyday learning all the necessary intellectual and practical skills that he will need to enter kindergarten. And he’s definitely not happy about it. Me? I’m pretty emotional myself.

I know moms say this all. the. time. BUT I swear when I look at him and see the little boy that he’s becoming…I cannot believe how quickly it’s all gone by. He’s the little boy I always wanted. He frustrates and tests me on a daily basis. He also makes my heart melt with those piercing eyes and the unexpected ways he can be incredibly sweet and considerate. A day does not go by that he doesn’t say to me, “Hey Mommy…know what? I love you.” So no matter how hard I try to be tough – when I’ve had to leave him (for countless mornings now) screaming for me to come back as I walk out the door of his daycare – my heart breaks. Our journey has not really been pretty. We were not prepared…I did not prepare my son like I should have. Poor guy. We can just add this to the many notches of first child problems. So what did we learn? What did we have to learn?

Prior to starting daycare/school this past June – Cooper was always watched by family. He’s spoiled. But hell. So was I and I went to daycare. The bottom line is that I was not prepared for the amount of independence he’d have to have at daycare. He sure as hell wasn’t prepared. So, I thought I’d share for all you parents out there who may have older children entering school who were previously cared for by relatives on a one on one basis the things that we had to learn. Cooper was potty trained…I thought that was enough…not so. Not so at all.

  1. We had to give up the sippy cup. Ok. Truth be told we haven’t completely gotten rid of it… BUT we did go hard core for several weeks until he mastered the regular cup. They use regular cups at school. Who knew? I should have…I just honestly didn’t think about it. To say he was devastated that he couldn’t use his sippy cup is an understatement. We survived though, and he’s pretty dang proud that he can drink out of a regular cup. 😉
  2. He had to learn how to completely undress and dress himself. People, we were NOWHERE near this skill. He could pull up his own underwear and pants…but I still did everything else for him. Why? I don’t know. I just didn’t think about it. I got him and Sophie dressed every single day. This was a major struggle and source of stress for Coop. He absolutely dreaded Wednesday water days at school which is so incredibly sad because that little boy loves being outside and he loves the water. But he had to undress himself and dress himself after the water festivities were finished. He didn’t know how to. No one told me when I registered him that he’d have to do this. I sent my baby in there with no clue. Most days he wouldn’t even get in the water because he said he wanted to stay perfect so he would be ready for pick up. Perfect as in his clothes wouldn’t be wet and wouldn’t need to be changed. Are you tearing up over there? Because I am. I can just picture him standing there watching everyone else playing..knowing that he wants to join in but won’t for fear of having to change his clothes. When water day officially ended….BOTH of us were so happy. The thing is he still dreads playing outside at school. I think it’s because he doesn’t quite trust that they won’t make him change clothes for some reason.
  3. This one is all me. I didn’t get pick up and drop off times in writing. This was such a source of annoyance and frustration for me. They let me drop him off at 7:30 for an entire month before the director called me to tell me that I was dropping him off too early. I was hot. I didn’t like the way she spoke to me and insinuated that I was knowingly bringing him early. I wasn’t. I was told that 7:30 was half day drop off. It wasn’t. 7:45 was. Maybe 15 minutes doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I have to be at work at eight. And when I registered him, one of the appeals was the 7:30 drop off time. I was also told the incorrect time for pick up. A later time. So. Lesson learned? Just get everything in writing.
  4. Nothing could prepare me for that first day of leaving him in the care of total strangers for the first time ever. He was totally fine that first week. He was excited and basically didn’t give me a second glance as he walked away to join the other kids. Me? Well that first day I got back to my car and couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t breathe and it took every bit of self control to not turn around to retrieve him. I thought to myself..”Are you literally crazy? You don’t know those people. Not really.” I’d said I would wait to call and check in on him until 10. I made it to nine. He was fine. I lived. But I can still vividly feel that feeling when I think of that day.
  5. Absolutely NOTHING could prepare me for the horrific feeling of having to leave my screaming child in the care of people who are not family as I walked out the door. The first time it happened I stayed with him for 20 minutes. I couldn’t calm him down, and I had to get to work. So one of the teachers distracted him while I slipped out of the room. Then I broke down. While still in the daycare. In front of another teacher and parent. They called me about ten minutes after I left to let me know he was fine. It’s heart wrenching…but we make it through. I say make – because that hasn’t ended. He screamed every single morning last week.

Watching your babies grow up is a beautiful thing. It makes me so happy and is one of my most favorite parts of being  a parent. Being there first hand to watch their little minds grow. To witness the development of their personalities, character, and traits. I treasure this front row seat. I am so lucky to have my babies. I am so privileged to have a role in their lives. To be their mom. But god. Putting my four year old in daycare has been one of the hardest things we’ve done. I’d have asked a shit ton more questions. I’d have waited a couple weeks and prepared Cooper for some of the things he needed to know how to do. I’d have tried to prepare myself. But we can’t go back. All I can do is share my experience…and well. Hope that the crying at drop off stops soon.