A New School…Times Two!—by Jamie Levine

Jayda’s been going to “school” for years now: Ever since she was three-and-a-half months old and I was commuting to the city for a full-time job, my daughter has been spending 8-10-hour stints at a daycare or preschool/pre-K establishment. Jayda’s a bright, social kid—and I never worry too much about her adjusting to new teachers/classrooms/etc. However, my kid is also quite dramatic, and lately, loves testing me, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect on her first day of kindergarten. In my gut, I knew she’d be fine…but I was also prepared for a sudden display of waterworks and clinginess if something didn’t go my daughter’s way.

Jayda woke up extra early on Day One of kindergarten and begged me to let her put on her sparkly new school outfit right away; I relented. Then she bounced around the house for the next two hours asking repeatedly, “Is it time to go to school yet?” When we opened our front door and saw a sign on our front lawn from the PTA welcoming Jayda to kindergarten, I knew there would be no problem getting my kid to school that morning: She was ecstatic. So, finally, I drove Jayda to school, helped her line up with her class, showered her with hugs and kisses, and watched her march behind her new teacher straight into the building without ever looking back. No tears were shed by either of us, and it was a perfect day.

Unfortunately, the same can not be said for Day Two. Because I have to be at my externship before Jayda’s kindergarten class starts, Jayda needs to attend extended hours at her school: Three days a week I must drop her off for breakfast there, and twice a week she needs to stay in after care. Day Two was the first day of her breakfast experience at elementary school, and she was not pleased about it: She wanted to stay home and watch TV as she usually does, while munching on her usual combination of cereals. But instead, I left Jayda in the school’s cafeteria, chewing on a bagel with cream cheese (which is a special treat for her), while sobbing hysterically as I walked out the door. With a phony smile plastered on my face, I left, knowing she was in good hands, but I was not happy about the experience.

However, two mornings later when I informed Jayda that she would not be having breakfast at school because it was Friday—a non-work day for me, when I have time to spend a leisurely morning with my daughter—she sobbed yet again. This time, she begged me, “PLEASE, Mommy! I want to go to the breakfast program! I don’t want to eat breakfast at home!” Go figure. Similarly, she threw a tantrum when I introduced her to the after care program on Thursday—but wanted to stay and keep playing when I arrived to pick her up at five-o’-clock. She then complained on Friday when I told her I’d be picking her up early and she didn’t need to stay in the after care program that day. At the end of the week, Jayda also asked me if, “after she graduates from kindergarten,” could she “please come back to the same school?” When I told her she certainly could, she clapped her hands and shouted “yaaaaay!” I think she likes it there.

Just like my daughter, I, too, entered the doors of an unfamiliar elementary school this week: I started interning as a speech-language pathologist in another school in our district. Like Jayda, I marched right into the building on the first day and had a wonderful experience. I learned a lot, made new friends, and even ate a brown bag lunch. But unlike Jayda, I repressed my anxiety and kept my tantrums at bay throughout my first week there. Change is scary; but change is also good. I’m working with an amazing, supportive staff, and have a diverse and interesting caseload. I’m nervous but excited, and just as Jayda is, I know that I’m in good hands. I think it’s going to be a great year for both of us.