“School”

I ask him who he made it for and he smiles from ear to ear. With a drawn out and happy “Maaaammmmaaaa!” Eyes squinted.

He’s so proud of the dried-noodle necklace he made for me at his “school.” Green, orange, and yellow. (Holden says “geen, oress, wewwow.”) His favorite colors of the week. He got to bring it home last Friday. I unhinged it hanging from his wooden clothespin beneath his cubicle. This is where all his art hangs to dry. I anticipate seeing what the clothespin displays every day I pick him up. A finger painting, a jelly-fish made with crate paper, a glittery hermit crab.

That noodle necklace though, that’s what got me. He’s so proud to show me that he made it for me. And I couldn’t be more proud either. Wore it the whole way home.

Normally I peep through the window and see how and what he’s doing before opening the door when I pick him up. I would pay to be a fly on that wall all day long. Watch him play, dance, share, paint. Interact with others, his “frens” he says.

I wanted to wait to write a post on Holden’s new school after he transitioned. I knew the first few weeks were an adjustment period, and I didn’t want to declare anything out of impulse- whether he likes it or not, whether or not I was doing the wrong thing. He’s been there now almost two months.

And he loves it.

This past year, Holden had been at a two-mornings-a-week Mother’s Day Out program. It was perfect for him, the age he was. The extent of which he could be away from me. (The extent of which I could be without him, rather.)

I was excited to be informed Holden got a spot into this school. As many schools go in our area, a baby hits the waiting list as an embryo. There was a spot open for him to begin in June, two months before I would begin graduate school. The best thing that could happen. He would have time to transition into this new routine before he absolutely had to go. (Before I needed him to go… Wah.)

That’s what I feel guilty about. No, he doesn’t need to be there right now. But I needed him to be happy there before I started school myself. Holden is and will always be my priority. His well-being is what the majority of my mind thinks about 24/7.

Holden has always done real well with a routine, ever since his infancy. As he suffered so badly from reflux, his routine was how I kept him the most sound. So it’s not surprising that an important routine in his life as a toddler usually delivers one happy boy. To know what to expect. We started a routine.

Holden wakes up. “Mama? Mama!” comes from his room. I already have his breakfast waiting on the coffee table. I open more his already-opened door. “Holden? Holdennn? Is there a Holden in here?” He’s hiding under his blanket. I check the closet, look in his drawers. Bend to look under his bed. Wait a few seconds. Attack him- usually in the thigh. “THERE HE IS!” He chuckles deeply. Gets him every time. And by every time I mean every.single.morning. Routine.

“Pup?” he asks. This means milk of course, my hand is already extended to give him his cup. We usually watch Elmo, chase the dogs around, eat a little breakfast and his orange vitamin before we hop in the car and head to school.

Pass by an apartment complex with its big Leasing sign outside. The street is usually decorated with balloons. Holden pauses from watching Elmo or Barney in the car so we can pass each balloon and say the colors.

Geeeen…

Boooo…

Weddd…

Orrreesss…

Puh-puh…

“All gone!” he concludes. Just a few streets away. At this point he tells me what color snoball he would prefer when I pick him up. The little prince. Another routine… I have to have a cup of milk and a snoball waiting for him in the car. A snoball in the mind of my two-and-a-half year old means that school is over for the day. It’s conditioned him to know that I will be there at the end of the day, when he tells me in the morning which color he wants then.

He has to open the fence gates himself as we make our way to his class room. If a teacher catches Holden opening the gate himself they will say, “No Holden. Only Mommies, teachers, and Daddies open gates, okay?” So I keep a look out for them, those teachers. The ones in red t-shirts. Let my baby open his gates. (Disclaimer: I love the teachers there.)

We get to his door and he shoots straight for the cubicle that holds the cell phones to play with (to put in his pocket for the whole day). If the kids aren’t all seated eating their morning snack that is. If that’s the case Holden sits himself down in his spot at the table and awaits a yummy treat.

One drop-off last week deemed disaster. Holden went to where the cell phones should have been when, unbeknownst to him the cell phones had a new location! He ran right back to me with an empty pocket on the shirt he demanded he needed to wear that day (for the pocket). His face turned bright red, frowned and started crying. “All gone?” he cried to me with his hand flipped up like there was nothing else to do about it. Then, his teacher showed him where the cell phones were and he was good to go from there.

It’s during the routined cell-phone search or snack that I sneak out the door. I wait outside and close my eyes. Make sure he’s not crying and screaming like the few weeks in a rows’ mornings leading up to his comfort in getting dropped off.  I know he’s going to have a great day. He’s going to be busy, he’s going to have fun.

It’s been harder on me than him, this new school. That’s for sure. I knew he would like it being the busy, physical, social boy he is. Not to mention, he’s not around other kids that much. And I’m definitely an advocate for him to be around other kids. Every child is different, and for Holden, school is a good thing. Time to be with other kids, time to share, time to listen, time to learn. And most importantly, time to play.

And time to make noodle-necklaces for his mommy. Something to give me for when I pick him up. He knows I will be back for him. I always will.

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