Tuesday, September 5th was Grace's first day of kindergarten at our local German immersion school. It was mostly an orientation day where she could explore the classroom and the parents could ask questions. I attended with her. She did pretty well, but became bored quickly since the kids were not allowed to play with the toys that day. She stuck very close to me, but did seem to like talking to her new teacher, Frau Savignac.
The next day, 9/6, was her first official day in kindergarten. When Grace woke up at 5 AM that day, I thought it might be hard on her. As the morning went on, she kept telling me that she didn't want to go to school. She didn't want to "be a big girl."
Anyway, I took her to the before school day care program called Learning Links. Coincidentally, the day care is run by Kristen, who we met in the NICU more than 2 years ago when Meghan was born. Kristen's son, Tanner, was born at 27 weeks (like Meghan) due to preeclampsia (like Meghan again). I feel really good about Grace being in Kristen's day care. When you're in NICU, you really learn a lot about the other parents there. I know Kristen is a caring parent.
I signed Grace into the day care, and we ran into Tante Shanna right away. Grace raced over to see her, and give a hug. Then, Kristen and I walked Grace down to the kindergarten area of the day care, which is in the gym. Gracie immediately withdrew from me upon entering the gym, and tried to leave. All the while, she is sticking her index finger in her mouth with quite a worried look on her face. (This, of course, immediately created a very large lump in my throat, and I had to remind myself not to cry, too.) I took her into the hall for a do-over, told her to get a drink of water, and informed her that this was not acceptable behavior since she was a big girl and I knew she could do it. I eventually coaxed her inside, and then was able to show her around a bit.
I introduced her to the teachers, Miss Rachel and Miss Shawna, who both seemed quite nice and willing to help. Grace began clinging to my leg so I suggested we sit down at the table and look at a book. We sat, and then we met another little K4 kiddo named Alexandria, who was quite shy.
Anyway, I stayed about 15 minutes total, but when I told Grace that I had to leave for work, it started...the scream heard 'round the world. Well, maybe I'm exagerating a bit, but I can testify that the entire school could hear her. "No, no, no, no, no, noooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!" She then got up, clung to my leg, and actual tears began to fall from the corners of MY eyes. The teachers came over to help, and I told them that Grace is very strong and fast...as in, they would need to hold her, but I never said the words.
I quickly turned around, and left while trying to remain composed. I met Shanna in the hallway again. She knew I was about to lose it, and as ever, Shanna, my very good friend, helped me to be distracted somewhat.
I wasn't crying because she was in kindergarten. It upsets me to the core that Grace has NEVER been able to soothe herself in any situation. From the time we brought her home from NICU, Grace's emotions have ruled her. She really has no control over them at all. I makes me sad to know that Grace was so upset. It was really a traumatic experience for me to see her pushed beyond her limits. I cried all the way to work, and it was of no comfort when most people I saw that day thought it was about her growing up and going to kindergarten. Nope, I know Grace is ready for a learning challenge. I'm afraid that my precious daughter is never going to grow past her emotional reactions. She will have a difficult existence if this doesn't change. I don't know how to help her any more than I already do. I let her talk it out, and give lots of hugs, but really, I'm not doing much more than that. I suppose that is all I can do for her.
Tomorrow, I'm taking her back to Learning Links in the morning. We've been talking about how crying is okay, but screaming like "we're being hurt" is not okay at school. I'm saying a prayer that tomorrow will be a better day.