- Don’t do anything drastic the night before. The night before Avelyn had her first day of preschool I realized her bangs were hanging in her eyes. I had to take action! In the middle of brutally slicing her hair to pieces as she sat on the toilet seat, I realized I would have been better off just using an extra clip or two. So what if all the photos I have of that day show off her bald forehead from the mini spiky bangs I left behind?
- Don’t watch anything emotionally arousing the week beforehand. No little scared fish on their first day of school being lost at sea from their overcautious parent you cannot relate to at all, and especially nothing about Andy going to college and abandoning the things that use to be most important to him. If you’re going to watch TV make sure it’s Super Nanny-a show that reminds you how hard it is not to hit your children sometimes.
- Do not sit in the parking lot. My conversation with Nick the night before: “How long is she there for?” “I drop her off at 9 and pick her up at 11:30.” “What are you going to do for 2 and a half hours without her?” “Probably sit in the parking lot waiting for her to need me again.” “Do not do that. I will not let you be that parent.”
- Do something to heal your internal struggle with the few hours she’s gone. In my case this was retail therapy-to Target I go! Yes, I do need four giant containers of laundry detergent, three cases of diapers, two extra large boxes of fabric sheets, and that family sized bag of M&M’s.
- Resist the urge to e-mail her teacher as soon as you get home about every detail of her day. The first daycare Avelyn ever attended gave me a slip of paper at the end of every day telling me how many dirty diapers she had, exactly what and how much she ate for her snack and lunch, what she played with outside and inside, and if she had any behavioral issues. To a helicopter mom like me, this was a dream. At preschool the incredible Miss Becky is too busy trying to round up 11 three years olds, and I’m sure the last thing on her mind is making note of how many times Avelyn used the bathroom. Yet I am left with lots of trivial questions: Did she pee? Was she interacting with other kids? Did she say anything that left her classmates rolling with laughter? Did she act out? Did all the other kids notice her stylish outfit and hip new shoes?
She survived the first day, and the weeks since, with a smile on her face—something I have been trying to keep through my intermittent breakdowns. However, watching her love school, even if most of her excitement is about snack time, calms all of my nerves a great deal.