Monday, September 10, 2012
Well, we made it through the first week of kindergarten and now we’ve started the second week. To put it lightly, the first week was rough.
We’ve been preparing Ella for this for 2 weeks, ever since K-Prep. The week before school officially started we went to the school and met with the nurse and Ella’s aide. Both are wonderful women who only want Ella to have a successful year. I showed both women how to take Ella to the bathroom, what to do if she needs new covers on her arms or anywhere else, when and when not to freak out, etc. Joe and I knew it was going to be a tough start, but we hoped and prayed for the best.
Since Monday was Labor Day, Ella started school on Tuesday morning. Unfortunately her anxiety got the best of her and she woke up at 2 am crying because she was so scared to go to school. Tuesday morning was full of tears. Ella was beyond nervous and had countless questions about what was going to happen that day and when I was going to come get her. Shockingly I held it together until we were walking away from the school. As we were leaving it suddenly hit me, we have a kindergartener, and then the tears started flowing. At least Ella didn’t see the tears, I think that would have sent her over the edge. She ended up calling me twice from school. While not ideal, I’d much rather her call than me have to go down there. And both times she seemed much better when we got off the phone. I think she just needed to know I was still here.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were still rough, but things got better every day. She still had a tough time in the morning and being dropped off, but she only called me once each day, and on Thursday she wasn’t even crying. Every afternoon when I picked her up she was smiling and said she had a good day.
It’s not easy being a parent to a kindergartener. Every day I question whether or not we’re doing the right thing. The school is wonderful and all of the administrators have been fabulous in making sure everything Ella needs is taken care of, but it’s so hard not to question whether or not she’s really ready for this. Kindergarten is a big deal, and going for 6 ½ hours is an even bigger deal. Every day I question if we should homeschool her, question if we should have held her back in preschool for another year, question whether we should have sent her to a smaller, private school that would let her go a half day.
The only real comfort I have found is that I know Ella’s not alone. We have heard dozens of stories from other friends who are going through the same thing, or have gone through it in the past. Several of Ella’s friends at church (without additional health concerns) had severe anxiety leading up to school and would also wake up with nightmares about what was going to happen. Even some of the most social children I know have had a hard time adjusting to this new adventure. Many of our friends whose kids are now grown share stories of how their children would cling to their leg for weeks or months because they were so afraid to go to kindergarten.
All of the struggles Ella has faced going to kindergarten are completely unrelated to her EB. It’s a big step and she’s nervous about it. Growing up is hard.
On a good note, today was a bit better. She still woke up crying, but she didn’t cry the whole way to school…progress. I gave her a little heart sticker to keep on her shirt to remind her that mommy is with her and loves her forever. She said that made her feel better. And she did cry a little bit when we dropped her off, but she didn’t fight against going into the building…progress. Last week her daily phone calls were between 10 and 10:30, but on Friday she didn’t call until around 12:15. It is now 1:00 and I haven’t heard from her yet today...progress.
In another big step, we took Ella to her own Sunday School class yesterday. For the past 5 years we’ve just taken her to big church with us, which means not only has Ella not gone to her own Sunday School class, but Joe and I haven’t been able to go either. Now that she’s 5 and thinks much deeper about things, she’s really started asking a lot of questions. She’s very interested in heaven and whether or not people can see us when they’re up there. She’s also very interested in how Jesus can live in heaven AND in her heart. Joe and I decided that this is the time for her to go to class with her friends and learn all about the bible, Jesus and all of Jesus’ friends in the bible. We dropped her off yesterday (with many tears) and we were able to go to our own Sunday School class! It was so great to be with all of our friends again and talk with people we haven’t really been able to talk to in awhile. While we were gone Ella did great in her class. When we picked her up she was so glad to know that it wasn’t nearly as long as regular school and that we were still in the church building. She was also really glad to learn that she still gets to go to big church with us (her favorite part of the week…she loves the music).
It’s been a week with a lot of change and trying new things. That’s tough on a little girl who doesn’t like change. On top of all of this, she’s had to start a new bedtime so that she can get enough sleep for school (she has to be there at 7:50 am, which means she has to be in bed no later than 7:30 pm), which means we can no longer have dinner as a family (Ella is completely crushed by this), and also means that daddy doesn’t get to tuck her in (nighttime is their special time together). It has been a lot. I’m just praying that this week goes smoother than last week, and that each week we see improvement. She has to grow up, but it’s hard to let it happen.