Wednesday, August 28, 2013

That Time I Cried Over A Scholastic Book Form.

Before becoming a mom, there are certain things you try to imagine with your children. You imagine swaddling their tiny brand new bodies, kissing every inch of their soft sweet skin as you hold them close to you. You imagine rocking them to sleep, taking their first steps, celebrating their first birthdays and suffering their first skinned knee. I don't know why, but I never once gave thought to their first days of school or how emotional I would be about it. 

Earlier this week Carter and I drove to school together for Meet the Teacher Day. I woke up that morning feeling such a wild mix of emotions, it's almost hard to put them all down in words. Part of me felt like this was such a momentous occasion- I would be meeting the woman who would be responsible for cultivating curiosity and creativity in my firstborn. For teaching him and loving on him for two and a half hours, two days a week, while he was away from me. 

She would become an almost stand-in Mother for him and it is because of this that I have such a fond place in my heart for preschool and kindergarten teachers.

I was excited. I was excited for Carter to begin this new adventure. After all, I know how awesome of a kid he is. How inquisitive and smart and funny and passionate. I couldn't wait him to share these attributes and for others to see the awesome in him. 

At the same time, I worried. Of course I did. I worried about how he would handle the time away from me. The new environment. I worried that, for some crazy reason, he wouldn't make any friends. 

Each day for the last several weeks, we would talk a little bit about going to school. About how much fun he'll have and all the things he'll learn and the new friends he will meet. We talk about how he'll have a teacher and some helpers in his class and how he'll get his own cubby to store his brand new tote bag in. 

Each time we talked, he would become more and more excited. 

As we stepped through the doors of his new school, ready to meet the teacher, he placed his little hand in mine and I swear I had to fight back tears. We walked/half-skipped up to the registration desk and before I could even say a word, Carter had already introduced himself and said he's here to meet his teachers. 

My heart almost burst. 

After signing a few papers and picking up our tuition packet, we were off in search of the yellow teddy bear that would signal his new classroom. He spotted it right away and I stood back as he went to open the door. 

I held my breath as we stepped into his classroom, glancing down to see his reaction. 

He walked right into that room, threw his hands out to his sides and announced "Hi! My name's Carter!" I half-smiled. As his teacher stepped forward to introduce herself, he ran right up to her and gave her the biggest hug. 

And that's when I realized I'd still been holding my breath. As I let out the biggest sigh of relief, I couldn't help but laugh. The other moms standing around also let out a giggle. A few said, "Well, someone is ready!" I laughed to myself and sheepishly replied, "At least one of us is!"

That's my boy. 

I glanced around the room, it was everything I had hoped it was going to be and more. Memories came flooding back of my preschool days, the few standout things I remember about them. Particularly the kitchen and doll corner. How everything smells like school. A mix of old books and wax crayons and cleaner.   

Within minutes Carter was across the room emptying a bin of cars and trucks alongside a little boy named Lane. Their little blonde heads pushed together as they dug through the bin, comparing cars and searching for the best ones. 

As the moms gathered together and made their way across the hall for the conference portion of the morning, I couldn't help but glance over my shoulder one last time. I felt my heart leap into my throat as Carter didn't even lift his eyes. 

That's my boy. 

I feel like now would be a good time to mention that I was the youngest mom in the room by a good 5-7 years. Most moms present had (multiple) older children who had already been through many, many First Days. They were pros and I was a little jealous of their calm, indifferent demeanor and steadfast knowledge that everything was going to be OK. 

Internally, I was freaking out. Freaking out about having to make small talk and about my firstborn starting school. Freaking out about schedules and projects and how would I remember picture day? And show and tell day? And? And? And...

Our chairs were arranged in a semi-circle, each chair laden with a packet of papers topped with with a bright yellow teddy bear name tag bearing the names of our children. I picked up my pile of goodies, sat down and as I rubbed that little laminated bear in between my fingers I felt that familiar burn in the back of my throat, the sting in my eyes. 

As the teacher began to introduce herself, I found myself with more reassurance than ever that I had made the right decision. Pre-K 3 was going to be so great. For both of us. I couldn't stop smiling as she detailed her experience, her love of children, a typical day in her classroom. 

That smile only grew wider and wider as we thumbed through the Welcome pamphlet and chatted about Picture Day, Christmas Pageants and field trips. At this point I was practically beaming. I glanced around the circle at the other moms and could tell instantly that I may as well have had First Time At The Rodeo tattooed across my forehead. 

I didn't care though. This was awesome. 

And then, tucked neatly into the back of our welcome packet, was the Scholastic Book form. The thin newspaper pages so familiar between my fingers. I could feel the tears begin to prick my eyes. I wasn't going to cry. Not now. Not over the Scholastic Book form. 

But I couldn't wait to get home and sit down at the table with Carter, like my mom did with me for so many years, and go through that book form, page by page and book by book. Begging and pleading with her "for just one more." When those books were delivered, my pile was always the biggest. 

I couldn't wait to do the same with my son. To hang his art work all throughout my house. Colored pages and projects spilling out from cabinets and cork boards. I couldn't wait for him to fill me in on his days. Telling me story after story about circle time and science time and arts and craft time.

As the conference portion ended and we shuffled back into the classroom, my eyes immediately found Carter, playing an elaborate game of race track with Lane. 

As the classroom began to empty, his little hand found mine and he looked up at me and said, "Let's go home, Mom. I can't wait to go back to school tomorrow." 

That's my boy. 

It looks like we're both ready for school this year. 


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  1. Love this. M's school orientation is next week. I know she's ready, but I'm not. But ordering the scholastic books with her like my parents did with me? And sitting together at dinner and talking about school? Those are things that are comforting my tender mama heart.

  2. Awww, AP he is SO handsome. And this story is just precious. I felt a lump in my throat and a sting in my eyes just reading this, and imagining how this will be me in just a couple of short years! My little man is just 3 months old right now, but I feel like I'll wake up tomorrow and he'll be 3 years old. The time just flies!!!

  3. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I did great with Rory's Pre-K3 year last year until the first time she hopped out of the car and walked in, by herself, with a friend. I just stood there like "wait what!?" and cried a few tears on the way home :)

  4. We started mother's day out last year and I remember feeling so much like you. I was the girl that asked a billion questions that no one else seemed to care about. It's hard to let go, but it is so awesome to see them thrive in their own little world. The first step of many to spreading their wings. He will do awesome!

  5. God bless. This is precious. You've made the right decision. I hate that Easton didn't have this type of 'first day' because he was 12 weeks old, but we'll get a do-over come Kindergarten. Carter is going to do fabulous. He will make SO MANY new friends and learn so many new things! You're going to LOVE it too! It's so wonderful for them to be in school. Sometimes I question this SAHM gig I've got coming my way, hopeing it's the best thing for us right now- and pulling Easton out of school till K, but I WANT SO BAD that time with him. These last 3 years that I've missed...I want those back so bad! So, home we shall go! Proud of you Ashley! You're a fabulous momma!

  6. So excited for you both! It's going to be a great year!

  7. Your post def made me tear up. MY son, Noah, who is not even 2, will be starting Pre-K this September. In 9 days to be exact. I wasn't worried. I wasn't freaking out. But then something came over me and I realized my little baby is going to a big boy school. I am not with him during the day as my MIL watches him, but the fact that he will be around strangers, without the care and love and nurturing he gets at this moment. That scares me. Your line "meeting the woman who would be responsible for cultivating curiosity and creativity in my firstborn. For teaching him and loving on him for two and a half hours, two days a week, while he was away from me" really stood out to me. I never even thought about the role his teacher would have on him. I knew I wouldn't an accredited, tenured teacher, but what her exact role was you described perfectly. Good luck on Carter's first day!

  8. I cried just reading this! We're celebrating our little boy's 1st birthday this weekend, and I can already start to imagine the same feelings and nerves that you are experiencing now. It will be my turn in a blink of an eye and then you'll be the "experienced" Mom. Thanks for sharing!!!

  9. Love love love. I loved the scholastic books forms and didn't even think of this yet! Here's hoping my little girl is just as excited when she gets to preschool as Carter is!

  10. Annddd I'm crying. I can barely watch my son transition from the infant room to the toddler room without bursting into tears with Ms. Debbie (our favorite, who I hugged so tight that last day...) - I can imagine the mess I'll be at preschool!!! AH!

  11. Ok, I'm not even a mom yet and this had me tearing up (not cool, by the way)! This was such a beautiful recount of a monumental day for Carter and for you. I can't wait to hear about his adventures at school over the course of the year. I used to teach preschool and Kindergarten and it truly is a magical time for kids, I feel fortunate that I was able to spend a few years sharing and experiencing that magic again as an adult. This post certainly made me nostalgic for my days as a student as well. I loved school and I hope that your sweet boy does too!
    Thank you for sharing this experience with us!

  12. Great post! I teared up reading it, remembering Tommy's first time in daycare (at 4 months), as well as each time he transitioned to the next has not gotten old for me yet. He's in the 4 year old classroom now, and I've become good friends with many of the moms in the class, as he has become with their children. I feel so fortunate to have found such a great place for Tommy that I am comfortable with. I love going through the Scholastic Book form with him too! And I'm already dreading next year (as are my mommy friends from daycare), when some of the kids will move on to Kindergarten, while Tommy, being one of the younger and smaller ones, will probably stick around for another year before starting Kindergarten, which is the direction I'm leaning. There are days that neither Tommy nor I want to go to school or work, but we count down til the "home days" for Saturday and Sunday. He's extra excited about 4 home days in a row since I'm taking off on Friday and we're closed Monday.

    And just so you know, I tear up over cute the kids are in the Halloween parade (especially my guy!), when they sing at the holiday concert in their classroom, and how sweet it is when I see my Tommy is when he brings the mommies their "tea" on the Mother's Day celebration. It's exhausting, but so worth it!!!

  13. It's thinking about moments like this that make me SO excited to be a mom. (I'm not one yet but hopefully will be soon.) You are such a sweet momma. Don't worry, he's clearly going to be just fine.
    xoxo Camille

  14. I was tearing up at this too! I remember those forms and getting to shop at the book fair. It's the best. Carter is going to be amazing at pre-school and he's going to learn and grow so much.

  15. And now the Scholastic book form has made me cry. In a short while I will be going through the same thing. I remember by MOm would always make me choose one Newbury award winner book and then a book of my choosing. Oh how I hated her rule back then... and oh how I will be implementing it now :)

  16. oh my, i actually teared up reading this. you write so beautifully about your familys experiences, its as if im right there with you. My son is only 15months, but i already know i will be a complete mess he first day of school
    the sweet life of a southern wife

  17. This warms my teacher & mom heart :)

  18. Oh girl! I'm a blubbering mess after reading this! And can remember these very same feelings when B started MDO several years back and then K4 this year. I find myself little by little letting go and realizing it probably hurts me a bit more than it does him. And when I go and pick him up after school and he's so excited he's stumbling over every word trying to tell me about his day I just smile and I know in my heart I did the right thing :)
    Love you friend!!

  19. This almost made me tear up!! Totally heart-wrenching, and now (even though my little guy is only six months old--actually almost seven!!), I never want him to start his first day of school! I'm not going to be ready!!

  20. Annnnnnnnnnnnd I'm crying. Damn you and your amazing story-telling skills.

  21. This is such a sweet post. I happened to switch over to FB right after reading this and there was a picture of my aunt, her daughter's face in her hands, and they were both crying as she drove away for her honeymoon, then off a few states away. I've never experienced a first day of preschool or anything like that. But I felt the same way as I went to McKayla's middle school orientation... excitement and nervousness for her. And I was DEFINITELY the youngest parent in there. A 29 year old middle school mom - the rest were almost 40! Anyway, I love this post. I love the way you tell a story, AP.

  22. This is truly beautiful AP.... I loved the Scholastic book form, and the time and care my parents and grandparents put into reading to me, and praying that I would love to read has impacted every single day of my life. I'm a writer, a journalist, a PR nut some days.... But because of those forms, because of those nap-time readings, my family gave me more than a way to enjoy a few hours. They gave me a talent, and a career.

    Enjoy that precious time ordering books with your son. You never know where it might lead him.

  23. What a wonderfully written post to describe this special day. Babes also got her first Scholastic form and we were so freaking excited. Reading with her is my favorite thing and I also looked forward to those forms as a child. Such a special memory to share.


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