Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back to School

Ah, back to school, back to issues.  
Not big issues, just the usual ones with separation & change, and the forever pondering what effect early transition and the trauma of separation has had on Phoebe.  Miranda this morning-- barely said goodbye to me, she was so excited to be back in her classroom.  Phoebe?  Well, yesterday was a one hour gentle introduction to her new classroom & her teachers, with no other students there.  I was supposed to give a cheery goodbye and then get some coffee in the lobby, but Phoebe started on her "I'm scared" routine, with arms wrapped around my legs.  The teacher is from Taiwan, and we requested that Phoebe be in her class where they will learn songs & traditions from China (not too mention how lovely it will be to have a positive Asian role model in her life).  But when I introduced Sandra to Phoebe, Phoebe looked right at her, paused, then gave her the Phoebe scowl.  Trouble with the Chinese face & accent?  Or just with the threat of a teacher who will displace her mother?

So, instead, I was invited to explore the classroom with Phoebe yesterday.  She did get out of my arms and explore a bit, but certainly didn't smile or relax, and didn't let me slip out "to the bathroom for a minute or two," no.  Then today, half of her classmates were coming, ages 3 to 5.  Phoebe started the morning at home by curling up in a chair and saying, "I don't want to go to the school."  She refused her rainboots, and when I told her, "Phoebe, you can make your own decisions, but you cannot make your sister late for her first day of school," Phoebe said, "You hurt my feelings!"  I carried her into school (a big Montessori no-no) with bare feet & her boots in my hand.  After dropping Miranda at her classroom (easy), we ended up sitting outside Phoebe's classroom on the bench while all the other kids arrived.  One kindergartner asked Phoebe, "Why are you out here?"  Phoebe said, "I'm scared."  As if she was paid to do it, the girl said, "It's fun!  I used to be scared too, but not anymore!"  

The teacher gave us a full 30 minutes on the bench, with kind invitations every few minutes.  Phoebe buried her head in my chest.  Finally, at the teacher's request, after promises that I would return right after storytime, I started in on the ritual goodbye kiss that Phoebe dreamed up & practiced at home:  nose kiss, one cheek, other cheek-- then with great effort, she raised her hand in a reluctant but brave high-five.  Sandra took her in her arms and entered the classroom.  I stood in the hallway out of sight and listened to her slow, mournful, sad cry.  Then had a good cry myself.

This is always the trouble, isn't it?  Phoebe, who finally has stability in her life, would like it if nothing ever changed.  If she could do the same thing every single day for the rest of her life, and wear the same clothes and the same shoe size, she would really be happy about that.  But her feet keep growing, it seems.  And I know it will be just days before she is loving Children's House and her new friends.  It's just the forcing her into the new beginning that hurts this mama's heart.