There’s something about dropping off your kid on their very first day of preschool that makes you feel like a sack of shit. It’s like you’re the worst kind of animal, just a few notches below Stalin, Hitler and that Bergen chef from Trolls.
Today was Ollie’s first day of preschool. It was his first day of any kind of school, really. You can imagine how anxious we were. Lori (my wife) was more outwardly worried, while I tried very hard to remain calm and collected for both their sakes. That’s not to say that my stomach wasn’t a complete mess as I rode the fine line between pristinely clean boxer briefs and shitting my pants.
My biggest fear was the moment where Ollie would realize we were leaving and he was going to have to stay behind. I would picture his face as realization set in and my stomach would drop. For all of his talent and inherent ability at being an asshole, I have a really big soft spot for him. I feel I need to be tough and assertive because he’s stubborn as hell, but all I really want to do is smother him with hugs and kisses while he flails and shrieks like a rusty propeller. It breaks my heart to see him cry. Which by the way, he’s a very, very ugly crier (not for the faint-hearted). It blows my mind how someone so adorable can rapidly morph into a creature right before my eyes, a la Bilbo Baggins. But I digress!
The morning started off great. Ollie woke up in a good mood and Lori reminded him that he would be starting school. He took it like a champ, since he clearly had no idea what the hell school was, and got through breakfast with the usual indifference a butterfly might have for a gourmet hamburger. We got him dressed, packed his book bag, lunch bag, grabbed his nap mat and headed out. We even stopped in the patio for a few pictures. So far so good!
Walking him in went great and he immediately started playing with the building blocks. We settled his stuff into his personal cubby and watched him interact with his new classmates. The teachers were both very sweet and we readied ourselves to leave. Then, everything went to hell.
There was no bucket of pig’s blood dropped on him, but I feared the scare would trigger his dormant telekinetic powers. Ollie broke down in tears, pleading to leave with us, and we had a very hard choice to make: stay and make it worse, or quickly tear the Band-Aid off and leave him to get over it in time. We took the latter more heart-wrenching option, much to the detriment of our composure. The door rattled and we saw the handle moving while he cried out for us. I had a momentary flashback of the “DON’T OPEN DEAD INSIDE” scene from The Walking Dead; only instead of zombies, I pictured raging toddlers trying to break their way out of their classroom. I told my wife that we should leave because the anxiety was only getting worse. “I will not shit my pants. I will not shit my pants…”
My whole drive to work after that was a horrible combination of shame and self-motivation. “We did the right thing… I hate myself… We did the right thing… I’m such an asshole… We did the right thing… He’s going to hate me…” I called and text my wife a few times, checking in on her to make sure she was handling it ok, more for self-assurance than anything else. How the hell do parent’s cope with this sort of shit?
Thankfully, Ollie eventually settled down and the rest of his day went really well. We even had a few pictures and a video sent to us, which helped ease the self-loathing (a little). I just hope that “day 2” goes better.
I would love to read your experiences on dropping your kids off for their very first day of school. Tell me all about it in the comments. How did you survive it?!