Today I turned my alarm off. It was set for 6:21 am, but Hayley was already awake at about 6:05 so I got up while George finished getting ready to leave for work. I intended to let Breanna sleep for another half hour or so but Hayley’s excitement must have been contagious, because she came running out with a big smile at 6:15. By 6:25 I was making myself a coffee and getting Hayley started on what will be her new school morning routine.
Despite her excitement, she managed to eat almost a full bowl of cereal. And even though she is usually the slowest person on the face of the Earth, she zipped through the rest of the routine and was ready in half an hour flat. Yesterday when Breanna napped, Hayley and I found pictures in flyers and magazines that matched the things she needs to do every morning, and then we cut them out and pasted them to a piece of cardboard. I hung it on her door and today she would complete each task and then race over to see what was next. (For the curious – 1. Breakfast. 2. Brush teeth. 3. Wash up. 4. Get dressed. 5. Brush hair. 6. Get lunch bag from fridge and backpack. 7. Get downstairs for the bus.)
Just after 7, she told me she had a stomach ache. I asked her if she was nervous and she said no. I knew she actually was and just didn’t recognize it under the excitement. I took her to the bathroom but she didn’t need to go; she felt better anyway and was fine when we got our shoes on. The bus was supposed to pick her up at 7:40 but we were told to be at our stop early just in case. We ended up heading down at 7:25 just to be extra sure.
I was happy to see a mother and two girls waiting on our corner. I asked if they were waiting for the same bus and they were, so I felt better knowing I had someone to wait with, especially since we knew the intersection but not whether it would be on the North, East, South, or West side. The bus eventually got there about five minutes late and it was game on.
My biggest fear was that Hayley, who had been dying to ride a big yellow school bus since age two, would freeze up and start to cry when it was time to actually go. I didn’t want to have to force her onto the bus. When it was her turn to get on, she was hesitant because it was just so big, but then she climbed up with some friendly encouragement from the cheerful bus driver, and she found a seat right up front. She was all giant smiles when she waved good-bye.
Breanna started asking “Where Aylay?” before we even got in the front door. She really missed her big sister. And so.did.I. It was the longest seven hours of my life. I was actually okay, I didn’t even cry until Breanna took her nap and I was all alone in the living room – nap time is when Hayley and I would play games or do things that required a toddler-free zone, and it was strangely empty in my living room today.
The bus was due at 3 but by 2:15 I was understanding Hayley’s excitement that morning because I was suddenly incredibly excited that she was almost ready to come back home. By 2:30 I couldn’t stand it anymore and I put shoes on my feet and Breanna’s feet, and we went downstairs 25 minutes early and we walked up and down the sidewalk (Breanna picked flowers for Hayley, how cute!). I giggled a bit when George’s dad pulled up at 2:55 – he had brought over a stuffed animal Hayley had forgotten at their house but it was so cute how he had casually timed it for her arrival at home.
My second biggest fear was that she would get off the bus with red eyes, that she had been crying all day. She ended up bursting out of the bus doors like she’d been catapulted out, shrieking with excitement.
The best half hour of my day was sitting on the couch while she ate a popsicle, listening to her tell me all about her day. She told me about how nice the teacher is. How they sang songs and listened to stories. How she played with the wooden kitchen set, dollhouse, blocks, a rock collection, and some dinosaurs. How she already had a good friend*, how much she enjoyed the cafeteria, and how she loved running around playing ball and hopscotch at recess and lunch in the kindergarten yard.
The only other time that I cried was just a little bit while she was telling me all about the things she did, just because I was so proud of this big girl who had gone to school for seven hours for the first time and really enjoyed herself. She already can’t wait until Tuesday to go back.
I think Tuesday will be easier, but I’m really glad I get four whole days with her before that happens.
You may notice that she looks just a little excited.
It wasn’t raining like the forecast had predicted but I was glad I had stuffed her rain coat in her bag because it was surprisingly chilly outside.
(That tag that she’s wearing around her neck is her bus pass which helps the bus drivers and teachers make sure everyone is getting on the right bus until everyone is used to where they’re supposed to be.)
I have a school set on Flickr right here. I even have a few pictures up there of the classroom when I went the other night – it’s pretty cool!
*Can I just mention that I am ecstatic that her new friend is one of the two girls who got on and off at her stop? As in she lives in the next building? Hallelujah!