Spoiler Alert: Mama cried.
Our toddler has added a new title among his many titles in our family: student. Mason completed his first week of school, and we couldn't be prouder parents. This was a huge milestone for our family, and someday, Mason will see how big of a step it was for him, too.
Why did we decide to start Mason in school? We'd been contemplating to start him in school a couple of months after moving to Florida. The more we saw Mason playing with kids around his age, the more B and I would think of how amazing he would be in a school environment. As I've shared in my Instagram posts, he loves being around other kids. There's also his speech delay, and we thought it would be a great way to have him learn from a classroom setting and kids in his age group to communicate with regularly. [Side note: Mason's speech therapy is going wonderfully, and he continues to make incredible progress!] We spoke with his pediatrician and his speech therapist, who were both on board with us putting Mason in school. We were so excited to enroll him, and yes, I cried after clicking "submit" on his application. The bittersweet tears had already started well before he officially began attending school.
About Mason's School
Mason's "school" is a daycare with a structured learning curriculum. He goes part-time, so I still have a couple of full days with him, which I love. Every part of his day has a theme or a lesson, done through a variety of activities. I mean, these are toddlers; they learn through play! Some of the activities include outdoor playtime, music expression, arts and crafts, sensory play, and of course, the classroom staple: circle time. All meals and snacks are provided at school, which I know are Mason's favorite part of the day. The meals are all healthy and wholesome. His teachers have told me that Mason does not move from his chair during each meal and snack time. I told them that I wasn't kidding when I said he took his meals and snacks very seriously.
Day 1: Drop-Off
I've been emotional leading up to Mason's first day of school. The night before, I couldn't sleep. The morning of, I felt anxious but kept a happy face for Mason, who was totally fine. Luckily, B and I were both present for his first day of school. I was so happy for Mason that his dad could be there, and I was relieved for myself to have B on for emotional support. As soon as we walked into the school, Mason acted as if he'd been attending for a long time. He was all smiles and said hello to anyone we passed by. When we reached his classroom, I felt my heart pounding, thinking, Oh my god, this is it. I have to say my see you soon's to my baby. I leaned down to give him a hug, told him that I loved him and that I was so proud of him. And what did Mason do? He just walked away with his teacher and other kids in the class, leaving me and B in the doorway.
I managed to hold back my tears when Mason walked away from my arms. I also didn't want to potentially upset any other kids with my tears. Our exit was quick, and I continued to hold my tears in as B and I walked down the hall and left the school. We'd taken separate cars, so before we parted ways for the day, B asked me how I was doing, to which I responded all tearful-eyed, "I'm fine. I'm going to grab a coffee and cry in another parking lot." He offered to come with me, but I said that I was alright, and there was no need to sit and watch me cry it all out. By the time I pulled up to the drive-thru for my coffee, I was sobbing. So sit in a parking lot and continue this cry fest, I did.
Day 1: Pick-Up
The first day with Mason in school was strange. I couldn't stop looking at the time. While we have the freedom to pick him up at any time, we want Mason to have a full day of school and maintain that consistency; we can't mess with our schedule already. I had these mini on and off cries all day. So when the time came for pick-up, I was so excited to return to his school. And what happened at pick-up? Mason ran past me four times as he was playing outside. Even when I called him, nope, he kept going back and forth, passing me with zero regards. But then his teacher walked over and said, "Mason, your mommy is here.", to which Mason immediately stopped moving, scanned each face outside, and finally noticed mine. He ran over, happily yelling, "MAMA-MOMMY-MA-MA!" and gave me the biggest hug. Mason's hugs are always big, but this one was different. This was an "I missed you so much" hug, and I felt it straight to my heart. His teachers reported a great first day and that he while didn't nap during nap/quiet time, he did play quietly. I asked Mason all about his day and knew he was trying to tell me all about school through his lively mix of words and babble.
The Rest Of The Week
At drop-off on the other days of school, Mason did cry a little, as expected. Nothing hysterical, but just that "I'll miss you though" cry. I kept our see you soon's short and sweet, and by the time I walked down the hall, he had already stopped crying and was onto a fun-filled day. I didn't cry, but I really missed having him around. Until this first week, I have spent nearly every entire day with Mason since he was born. Knowing that he has so much fun at school continues to fill my heart. Friday pick-up was a real surprise for Mason because B picked him up from school that day. I'm so glad that B experienced Mason's happy scream with the big hug, and that they had that moment together. His teachers also said that Mason caught onto nap time and napped for about an hour - an accomplishment as he hasn't been napping since we switched him to a toddler bed. We are thrilled that Mason is enjoying school and that he is going to learn so much there!