Yesterday was N's first day at her new daycare, a Catholic school that also has childcare, infants to preschoolers. Here's how it went down:
N: Happy. Did the usual: reading books, playing with toys, requesting happy days, napping, watching SuperWhy, dancing, pooping in the tub, etc.
Dad: Mostly happy. Occasional worry about Monday. Did the usual: played with N, read books, watched TV, changed a lightbulb, freaked out about poop in the tub, etc.
Mom: Not happy. Stressed. Completely freaked out about Monday. Did not do the usual: hid tears, read N books about sharing and going to school, wallowed, hid happy days, fished poop out of the tub, etc.
N: Woke up, snuggled with Dad, snuggled with Mom, got ready, Dad drove to school. Played with farm toys and cars and books. Total and complete meltdown when Dad left. "Daddy gone. Daddy gone." Went to breakfast with new friend, Rachel (head teacher), and stopped crying. Didn't eat much. Played more afterwards. A few tears on and off.
Dad: Stayed for a little while at school to play. The other toddlers commanded him to read them books and he obliged. Left and kissed Norah goodbye, and felt heartbroken. Then lingered in the hall to see that she had stopped crying on the way to breakfast and was being held by Rachel. Felt a little better and left.
Mom: Tried not to cry all morning and tried to focus on work. Waited desperately for Dad to come home with some information. Envisioned the worst.
N: Playing and having fun with baby dolls.
Dad: Came home and calmed down Mom. Then did whatever. Who cares.
Mom: Felt a little better when Dad came home, but called the daycare around 10:30 to confirm she was doing okay. She was happily playing baby dolls. Started to worry about lunch and nap time.
N: Ate a little lunch. Napped for 2 hours! Played all afternoon with NO TEARS!
Dad: Did errand for his mom.
Mom: Still worried, but less so. Worked. Ate my feelings and blew my Weight Watchers Points.
N: Played in the gym at school because the weather wasn't the best. Made new friends and also voiced her opinion on sharing.
Mom and Dad: Mom did a really quick lunch so she could bail a little early on work and they went to the school around 4:30. There were no kids in the toddler room. Before I could freak out, a dad whom had come in with us said, "They must be in the gym." We followed him down the halls lined with little winter coats and construction-paper turkeys and found the gym entrance. I grabbed Dad's arm and we held back for a few minutes, watching N play. She was holding a big purple ball, like the kind you play kickball with, and grinning. Rachel told her to kick it, and she set it down and took a mighty toddler swing with her short little leg and fell down giggling. Then another little girl ran up to her and yelled, "Your dad's here!" and yanked her up by her arm. Norah looked around and then spotted us. She ran, all smiles, and crashed into me for a hug.
We talked to Rachel for a little while and she said the morning was on and off happy, but that her afternoon was great. She said for a first day, she did amazingly well. I fought back tears of joy and thanked her profusely.
We went back to the toddler room and Norah showed us all the toys and dolls she liked, and the finger puppet Pilgrims they had made that day. It was nice they were allowed to celebrate holidays, unlike Old Daycare. All the kids names were also up on the wall in different places; on little snow boots, on birthday balloons, and on gum balls, and Norah's name was already up with all of them, as if she'd been there all along.
I know it won't be perfect, and that the transition period will be trying, but this seems like it will work. I really, really hope it does. Cross your fingers for us.