Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A very big day, for a very big girl

Monday was a big day for our little girl...Piper had her first day of pre-school! It was a bit of a strange milestone- it was a big transition to a new school, but since she's been in daycare since she was 4 months old, in a lot of ways it was also the same old thing. 

But even though it could have been seen as just another day in a new place, you know I wasn't letting that happen. Oh no. This was the first day of school...and I was raised that that is a big deal, no matter how big or little you are. (My step-dad just started teaching college again for his...7th (?) year, and my mom still got him a new lunchbox. I believe in all the fanfare, all the traditions, and all the pictures...and I come by it honestly). 

So we've been talking up the new school to Piper...well, since we signed her up last Spring. She knew she wouldn't be in school with her siblings, she knew she was getting a new teacher, she knew it would be a new schedule, but in all of it, she latched on to one detail: she would get to pack a lunch.  Now, this girl's life pretty much revolves around snacks, so I shouldn't have been surprised by her enthusiasm, but she was really excited. She pretty much talked about her lunch all Summer. So, 1: to support her enthusiasm, and 2: to support my crazy, I got really into it too. I started following a few bento box/creative lunch accounts on Instagram (yes, that's a thing. Pretty much everything is a thing on IG) and it's basically taken over my Pinterest. Piper helped me pick out her lunchboxes (Bentgo lunchbox, and Mermaid Lunchbag) and went grocery shopping with me to pick out all the special treats she wanted. (And I surprised her with a new water bottle, and some lunchbox notes).

I wasn't sure she'd appreciate all the effort, but after I gave her a sneak peek that morning, on the car-ride to school she explained to Dustin:
"Daddy, I asked Mama to make me sandwiches for my lunch, and I just meant squares, but she loves me so much that she cut it into hearts."

All the mom points!!!

I tried so hard to make this day special for her...from the lunch, to a surprise "first day" dress and shoes (that I knew were much more her style than mine), to books to read the night before (First Day Jitters and Wemberly Worried) to help ease the transition, I even got her some "school supplies" as a congrats present because I knew she'd be excited to work on her "homework" (aka write her name one million times in purple pen in a donut-themed notebook). I grew up in a house where first days (of school...and anything, really) were a very big deal, so being able to recreate some of that milestone magic for my own kids is super special to me. 

And ended up just as meaningful for her. I didn't fully expect her to notice (or appreciate) all of my effort. It would have been fine if she didn't. I would have understood if she was overwhelmed and the transition was tough. I wouldn't have been surprised if she suddenly hated all the details I chose (even when she helped pick are fickle). I figured she might think a couple things were cool, but that she'd also likely be annoyed at all the pictures, and new rules, and shifts in the schedule. Basically I've learned a thing or two about motherhood over the long-long days and very-short years, and I set my expectations low, trying not to be too hurt if all of my good intentions weren't met with wildly enthusiastic praise. 

But I cannot exaggerate when I say it was the most perfect day. 

She loved the designs on her water bottle. She requested to read her books again and again. She cheerfully held her sign for pictures. She eagerly "read" the checklist I drew her to make sure she had all of her Very Important Things (lunch, backpack, towel for quiet time...) She patiently waited while we dropped off Fin, and relished the chance to pick the music because she was the only one in the car (besides, you and her Dad and Miller...who don't really count). She was a dream. 

"Mom, what does my sign say?" 
"First day of preschool"
"What does it say?!"
"It says first day of preschool, kiddo"
"But I'm going to Kindergarten!"
She had expressed some nervousness leading up to this day, even complaining that she didn't want to go (lunch notwithstanding), but somehow this morning it was gone. She was so excited, and agreeable, and proud. I could tell she felt like it was a big deal, but also that she was the biggest deal, and that made my heart so happy.

We took all the obligatory snapshots out front...and of course Fin had to get into the action, regardless of whether any of the fanfare actually applied to her. (In an effort to keep things a little bit fair, she did get a new dress for the occasion too).
I couldn't really break it to her that it wasn't actually her she got to hold the sign too.

(ham AND cheese, this one.)

(Miller wasn't feeling good that day, so he stayed home from daycare...Maybe he just didn't want to miss the action.) 

Piper was all smiles all through dropoff. We got there a little early, so had time for a few more pics, and of course, a chance for her to "check to make sure" she had everything she needed. So responsible already.

We walked her back to her room, and she immediately found her backpack hook, and her nametag. She gave us big hugs, and quickly and confidently announced "bye mom! bye daddy!", and set to work on the morning's activity: writing on dry erase boards (one of her big-time favs).

And that was it. I didn't cry, or worry, or lament my little baby being all kinds of big. I did have a little bit of a tough time leaving, but just because I knew she was going to do so well, and love it so much, I wanted to watch it all unfold. But Dustin and I walked out together, and headed to work, excited to hear all about her adventures later that afternoon. 

And at 3:14 on the dot I returned to her class to find her cheery as can be, backpack on, ready to pounce on me for a hug. She beamed as we collected all of her Very Important Papers (field trip form, art project, class list- with photos! of her friends!) and she told me all about her day as we walked to the car. 
She had a friend...what's her name? You know, the one with the pretty hair...And another one, she has a fancy dress with pictures on it. Actually, they were pictures of schools!
She ate every bite of her lunch, and yes, she liked the yogurt raisins very much. And she even saved part of her snack for Finny (but not the Oreos).  
She went to art class, but didn't know the teacher's name, but she drew a butterfly, and a caterpillar, and would I like to see it? Here, she'll explain it to me...
She went on the playground two times, and she had naptime, well, towel time, but she calls it naptime, but she didn't sleep, but you don't have to sleep, you just have to be very still, like THIS.....and if you are, then you'll get books, but one friend couldn't be still, so she doesn't think he got books, well maybe he did, actually, but just not as soon as she did. And they don't have story time, really, but they have Bible time, and that's pretty much the same thing anyway.

The after.

After she breathlessly recounted her day for Dustin, I convinced her it might be a good idea to take just a little rest, after such a big day. She insisted she was not tired. At all. But humored us anyway. Five minutes later I found a couple very not-tired people, fast asleep in my bed. 

My heart. x2. 

She must have had a very full day indeed, because she zonked so hard, that she fell asleep again on my lap after we tried to wake her up to go with me to pick up her sister. But she eventually rallied, and was thrilled to go get Fin (making sure I didn't forget the baggie of cinnamon graham crackers she saved her...("Fin! I will try to save you some food tomorrow too, maybe not my lunch, but if there is snack, I will save that for you so you can have some." "Thanks, Piper! If I have snack that you give me, I will share some with you too.")

We ate dinner, and played, and did "soothing bathtime" to try to combat any over-stimulation from the day, and when it was all over, she announced she wanted to go to school EVERY DAY. "But can you please pack something different in my lunch? Because I liked it...but not that much."

Sure, sweet girl. Anything you want. 
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  1. Love the story and you her and ya'll. Love how special you msde it for her! It sounds exactly like Jag's first day of 10th grade. Minus the oreos, yougurt raisins, and heart sanwiches. Although now im sure hell insist on the hearts. 💙 Heck we were out of milk and bagels. I made pancakes and used the half & half Lizzie left behind when she took the Keurig to College. You know you're old when your child owns the nicer coffee machine. 😋

    1. haha- never too old for heart shaped sandwiches! So crazy to think about how long we'll be doing this back to school thing. And crazier that Lizzie is in COLLEGE! xoxo

  2. The cutest!! And I'm DYING over her little Herschel backpack.

  3. I love everything about this story, and everyone in it. Brings tears of happiness to my eyes!