The whole family has been very sick the past week, high fevers, strep throat, snotty noses and hacking coughs. Its been horrible. Awful, on so many levels. Ron and I were both ill as well and Wednesday last week was a low point in our family as the girls lay on the trundle bed mattress in front of the tv for pretty much the whole day while Ron and I huddled, shivering under our duvet in bed. Happily we are on the mend, just in time really for another big milestone in the White family. Stella’s first day at preschool.
It feels like yesterday that Stella was a cuddly baby in my arms on Amy’s first day at our lovely preschool down the road. Two and a half years have passed and Stella is now a big, grown-up preschooler herself. Such a cliché I know, but where does the time go? Remember this photograph?
Despite having had a wonderful experience at our local privately run preschool for the two years that Amy attended, for some reason I can’t recall, I had started to doubt whether this would be the right place to send Stella. Due to her birthday being in April we always knew we were going to have to wait to start her, most preschools have a January intake and children have to be three years old and toilet trained to attend. Stella’s name was top of the waiting list but I never investigated sending her anywhere else and when no places came up at our preschool, we were suddenly faced with a decision. Wait until a place opens up or try and enrol her somewhere else?
The only other preschool I would consider as an option also had a waiting list and so I popped into our preschool with Stella one morning for a visit and to find out whether there were any days available. Within ten minutes of being there I had completely changed my mind, there was no doubt anymore that Stella would be attending this preschool, she loved the teachers, she was comfortable with the routines, she loved the play areas and she was so familiar with the whole set up, why would we change what we knew was already working for us? Thankfully a Monday became available and although it meant giving up our lovely Monday playgroup which I have been attending since before I was pregnant with Stella, it was the right decision. Stella would start at preschool, one day a week until such a time as another day opens up.
We talked a little about what to expect but Stella seemed quite blasé about the concept, preschool was so familiar to her that she had nothing to worry about. Using my new found technique of only telling my children what they need to know: You are going to start going to preschool, you are going to love it, you are going to have the best time! We prepared her backpack and sleeping bag (all handmedowns from Amy!) and then suddenly the day arrived and we were on our way. I had no idea what to expect from Stella, she separates happily from me on lots of occasions and then there are the times when she doesn’t. Her speech has improved so much but then there are the times when she loses her train of thought and struggles to communicate her needs. She is completely toilet trained until the times when she isn’t and gets too busy to remember to go!
Well I had nothing to fear, she happily went to preschool today carrying her own backpack and when she arrived she ran over to the big buckets and stood on her tiptoes to see which one she should put her lunch box in and which one held the fruit for morning tea. After putting her backpack into her new cubby hole she wanted to paint a picture and so I left her there at the easel after a quick kiss and a cuddle. In the car I sniffed back some sobs, completely ill prepared for how it would feel to leave my youngest in the hands of her first institutionalised care situation.
I am so happy that her first day was such a success, I was super excited to see her this afternoon and she came running over and gave me a big hug and lots of smiles at pick up. She proudly gave me three “lovely” paintings she had done and she gave the teachers big hugs on the way out. The next step in stretching the elastic bungee that binds her to me, my baby is growing up. Sniff.