It is Rollie's first day of preschool. And since we all know how socially affable and advanced my son is (ie, he only picks his nose when he thinks no one is looking) I figured his first day of school would be Easy-Peasy-Cream-And-Cheesey.
I didn't even really bother prepping him for it. He'd already met his teacher, seen his classroom, and even christened the little bathroom in the back (see Schoolhouse Jerk for more on those exciting developments). How much more preparation would he possibly need? Sure he was going to be in a completely unfamiliar room with a bunch of other little nose-miners for three-plus hours, totally away from everyone he knows and loves, with no chocolate milk or elephant lovey or fuzzy blanket for miles and miles...I figured he would be so excited about school he wouldn't be able to contain himself, he would bounce in his car seat the whole way there, and when I walked him into his over-stimulating classroom he wouldn't even remember to toss a 'bye, Momma' over his shoulder as he dove headfirst into the fun-filled fray.
Which is why I win the award for World's Most Smug Ignoramus A-Hole To Ever Swagger Across The Earth.
I should have picked up on the warning signs last night. His whole mantra of "I'm not going to school," should have been a big clue to me that this morning wasn't going to be the lemon drop of a morning I was anticipating. When Jeff told him about all the fun things he was going to learn and all the neat friends he was going to meet, Rollie simply said, "Sorry, Dadda. I'm not going." I just smiled and shook my head (I know, I know...seriously? What do I think this is, a detergent commercial? So I did get that grass stain out after all! Thanks, Tide!)
This morning we had some more in-depth conversations.
Me: Hey Rol! Are you excited about school?
Rollie: ...Are you going to be with me?
Me: Well, Baby Els and I are going to walk into your classroom with you....
Rollie: ...Are you going to stay?
Me: No, hon. No one's mommy is going to stay. You're going to be with your teacher and all your new friends.
Rollie: What friends will be there?
Me: Well, you don't know them yet, but you'll get to know them.
Rollie: ...Is Ryan going to be there?
Me: No, Rollie. None of your friends will be there. Nice one, Bekah. Make sure you mention that a hungry crocodile will be tapping on the window all morning, too.
Rollie (now starting to look slightly panicked): But are you staying?
Me: Baby, I told you, Elsa and I will walk you in, and then you'll stay with your teacher and learn a lot of cool stuff.
Rollie: ...But I don't want you to leave.
Me: Oh Rollie, you'll be having so much fun learning new stuff you won't even notice I'm gone.
Rollie: No, I won't. I don't want to learn anything new. I want to stay just like I am.
|Before The Storm|
Still, he dressed, brushed his teeth, even posed for some pictures with little-to-no resistance. As he clamored into the car, he seemed at ease, and dare I say eager, to begin his new routine.
We were caught in school zone traffic, rocking out to U2 as we waited for the flouresent-clad policeman to wave us by.
Rollie: Turn the music off, Momma.
Me: Why? You don't like this one?
Rollie: I don't want to listen to music right now.
Me: ...Okay. What do you want to listen to?
Rollie: Just the outside.
I glanced in the mirror and saw him looking out the window at the rain-soaked world. He reminded me of a boxer psyching himself before a fight. Maybe I should pull out some Survivor. I could almost hear "Eye Of The Tiger" playing in Rollie's little mind as we sped toward school.
We parked and piled out. And that's when I started to get a bit worried about Rollie.
Rollie: I don't want you to leave, Momma.
Me: Well, let's all go in together and see who else is there.
He looked up at me, his eyes as gray and rainy as the overcast sky.
"Please stay, Momma."
At while every ounce of me wanted to say, Okay, Rollie, I will stay with you all day today, tomorrow, every day after that, I will never ever let you out of my sight for as long as I live, I knew the minute we got home and he started smacking Elsa across the back with the gel-encased Wii remote, I'd be ready to send him to reform school.
Before me walking him into school could turn into me dragging him into school, we hurried into the building along with other, seemingly more enthusiastic children, and found his class.
I tried my best to distract him from the fact that I was about to walk out the door. I showed him his cubby, an obscenely large toy fire engine, a bin full of battered Thomas accessories. None of these things disguised me edging toward the door with Elsa balanced on my hip.
"No, Momma!" Rollie cried. He clung to Elsa's leg, pulling so hard that if she'd been a GI Joe, her rubber band would've snapped.
"Rollie, you'll be fine," I felt like I was telling this to William Wallace as he was carted away post-trial. "You're gonna have so much fun."
Rollie responded with a full-body flail.
His teacher, who had been handling a few other minor crisis when we walked in, now hovered over us on the wings of experience.
"Rollie," she said, "do you like Thomas the Train?"
Bless her for trying. She hadn't seen Rollie already dismiss Thomas and everything he stands for as an evil plot to strand Rollie alone in the room.
"I think I might take him outside to calm him down," I said. As if this was actually going to make things better instead of escalate the situation to near-pandemic proportions.
"Okay," she said. In that word I heard her thinking, Lady, every second you stay here and try to tell your son he's going to have fun you are sending him into a panic only reserved for kids who are about to either miss their bus or puke their guts out. But be my guest!
I brought him into a bustling hallway and sat him down in a little chair. He can be reasoned with, I foolishly told myself. He can write some letters. He can beat me in Wii Sword-Fighting. Surely he can understand the logic of a 32-year-old English major. Assuming there is such a thing.
But he knew the look on my face. He knew I was about to try to talk some sense into him. Which meant he wasn't getting his way. Which made him freak out even more.
"I want to go with you," he pleaded, kicking his feet and sobbing.
"Rollie, you're going to stay here with your teacher," I said firmly. "I will be back soon to get you, okay?"
"I don't want to stay!"
Finally I did it. I had to. I decided it was time to bring out the Big Dogs.
"Rollie, listen," I said. "Elsa and I are going to go out and get you something super duper special for being such a good boy and staying here at school."
He actually stopped crying for a minute. "What are you going to get me?"
"...I don't know yet. What would you like?"
"Uh...A bubblegum whale."
"A bubblegum whale. Okay, got it. I will go out and so help me I will find you a bubblegum whale. Okay? Now please stop crying." Never mind the fact that I'm not really sure what he means by bubblegum whale. Is it a giant piece of whale-shaped chewing gum? Or does he mean a gummy whale? Or an actual life-size whale chomping on a giant piece of chewing gum? Which I was prepared to deliver, provided he stop bawling his eyes out and go back into his classroom.
But the tears had momentarily stopped. Time to show the world that I am not a total waste of a parent. We went back inside and I presented my red-faced, breath-shuddering son to his teacher, then got the hell out. I could hear him yelling again as I hurried down the hall, but I didn't turn around.
I had a gum-chewing whale to catch.