A child’s first day at school is a big deal, and for good reason. It’s a major milestone after all. This is the day they leave the familiar cocoon of their own homes and venture out into the big wide world. After this day, as they say, there’s no looking back. First it is preschool, then primary, then middle school and before you know it they’re packing their bags and leaving for a college and you’ll get to see them once a year if you’re lucky.
But until we get there, there’s this tiny little thing called the second day of school. And while it is the first day of school that gets all the attention, truth be told it is the second day that takes the cake. And I’ll tell you why.
On the first day of school, the little one doesn’t know what to expect. They are excited at the prospect of a new place, more so because the parent builds it up, talking about new friends, and all the games they are going to play and all the fun (oh so much FUN!) they’re going to have. Then they reach school and realise that Mamma isn’t going to stay with them while they have all this fun they are supposed to be having. And hell breaks loose. Cue tear-works and screaming and holding on to Mamma and refusing to let go because why on earth does Mamma have to leave? When school gets over and they rush into Mamma’s arms, still sobbing, still accusing Mamma of leaving them in lurch, little do they know that they have to do it all over again the next day, and the day after and so on. So you see, on the second day, they know exactly what is going to happen. And they know it is not going to be pleasant after all. Which is why the tear-works start from the moment they start getting dressed.
I would know. I’m writing this from the waiting area of Miss Munchkin’s kindergarten, and it’s been exactly thirty minutes since I left her in her classroom. This is our second day, and if I thought that my being a working Mom by now would make it easier on me, I was wrong. I’ll admit I had high hopes. Little Miss is a friendly kid who loves to talk and meet new people, which is why I hoped that getting adjusted in school would be easy for her. That, and the fact that she was already used to spending time away from me. I anticipated the separation anxiety, but I didn’t anticipate that look on her face when she saw me at the end of school. She was still sobbing, wiping her own tears, and while she was happy to see me it was as if the sight of me reminded her that I had left her, and she started crying more. It was heartbreaking, specially since she would start sobbing every now and then, even at night, saying she didn’t want to come to school.
Her teachers are amazing, and I trust them absolutely. I know all about getting used to a new place, I have read up on how to prepare your child for school, and how this is normal. I also know that in a few weeks’ time she would be the one jumping in joy to come to school. I love her classroom, and I know that the moment she stops missing her Mamma she would feel right at home. There’s a play kitchen and a washing machine for pretend play and loads of blocks and legos and puzzles and oh I know I know this is natural but god do I just want to hug her and hold her and not let her go ever. You silly goof, I tell my heart, for once will you just let the mind take over?
Sigh. That look on her face though.
But that’s okay, I tell myself. The second day is about to get over soon. This too, shall pass. She might need more time than others, but that’s okay too. She might scream even louder tomorrow, and vehemently refuse to come, but we’ll deal with that. One day at a time, right? I keep thinking about the day my happy daughter rushes to my arms after a fun day at school and tells me all about it, and I’ll think to myself “Remember how she used to hate that place once?” That’s all I can do right now anyway.
Look at me, turning a rite of passage into a sob story of my own. Moms, right? Maybe I’ll wallow in it just a little bit and then snap out of it. Just a tiny little bit, and then I’m done.
There. Done. Now off to drown myself in The Handmaid’s Tale. Thank heaven for books.