We all survived! Actually, Clare did incredible on her first day of preschool. As we truly knew in our hearts that she would. As Shawn posted earlier, we all brought her to the door, gave hugs and kisses, then Clare trustingly walked off with Miss Karin, one of her classroom aides. That was almost as hard as handing Clare over to the doctors before one of her caths. We've been talking with Clare daily about going to school, but I am not sure how much she actually gets what it is all about. When Miss Karin held out her hand to Clare, Clare took it without question and walked away with her. She waved good-bye and blew a kiss, but then did not look back. Which is how I want it. I don't want to think of Clare crying, miserable, scared to go to school. But it does make my heart ache a little that she was so trusting and willing to go with someone she only met the day before for 20 minutes. That's the nature of her personality.
Yes, I did start crying as we were walking back to the cars. I knew she would do well, but it was more the fact that she was actually old enough to be going to school that made my eyes tear up. We've been talking about this day since she first started with Early Intervention, but it was always something in the distant future. Now it is really here, and we have entered into a new phase of life with Clare. I quickly wiped my tears away, though, since I had Jamie and Simon with me. It was swim class day, so that was a good distraction while Clare was in school.
Although we do not get to see Clare in her classroom since drop-off and pick-up are outside the school building (thus why there are no photos of Clare in her classroom), we were able to talk about her day after school with Miss Karin. Tuesday is the "low" day in their classroom. Only the kids that need to go four days a week go to school on Tuesdays. In Clare's classroom, it is only her and one other boy. Clare's OT peeked in on her during the day (since Easter Seals shares the building with the developmental preschool) and reported to us that Clare was sitting in her chair working on a puzzle. She was following directions, paying attention, and doing really well. She also said that Clare enjoyed being with the other child in the classroom. I am glad Clare's first day was a quiet one at school (normally there are 13 children total in the classroom). It gave Clare a chance to warm up to the schedule of the day and the rhythm of the classroom and gave the teachers the opportunity to spend a lot of one-on-one time with Clare and get to know her. Miss Karin said they are going to start slow with Clare, but were able to get her to sit at the table for 10 minutes concentrating on a task. She did say that Clare repeatedly questioned "up? up?" to get out of her seat, but did listen when she was told not yet. Clare also had some OT and speech today. They end the school day with a reading of Brown Bear (by Eric Carle). This is one of Clare's favorite series of books, so I was not surprised when Miss Karin said that Clare found storytime very soothing.
When we all trooped back to the school to pick Clare up, she was waiting for us outside with the teacher. Clare was happy to see us ("Mama!" and big hugs), but we could tell she also had had a good time at school. She was exhausted, though, and went right to sleep after lunch (she normally puts up a stink about taking a nap - "No nap! No nap!"). Her next school day is Thursday, so our new weekly routine has begun! Below is a video of Clare walking in with Miss Karin. What a big girl!