Wednesday, September 11, 2013

First Day!

First Day! First Day! First Day!

Yesterday was Lucy’s first day of school.  Well, in true Zimmer fashion, it was everyone else’s second day of school, but Lucy’s first.  Her first day she had missed because we all traveled together to my lovely college roommate’s wedding on Cape Cod (wooooo!  Congratulations Trish and Dan!)  So there we were, the last parents to drop off their child, taking video and shooting pictures of her, teary eyed behind our sunglasses.

"First day!!"

The emotion of the day was somewhat lost in the last minute hustle and preparation, but now as I am writing it I recall the long discernment process that we had leading up to this seemingly careless walk into a brick building at 8am.  Do we send Lucy to preschool this year, or wait another year?  Is she ready?  If so, what school do we send her to?  A parochial school, a public school program, or one of the many Montessori options available?  Is a self directed environment better for her than a more structured program?  Will they teach character strengths and focus on moral development along with ABC’s and 123’s?  If we decide to send her and decide where we should send her, then what schedule do we go with?  Full days, half days, how many days a week?

The options are endless, and even though we were just talking about preschool, each decision seemed to carry the weight of her entire educational career.  We wanted to make smart, informed decisions.  We wanted our decisions to carry the weight of our own educational experiences.  And the weight of these decisions were compounded by the fact that many of our friends here have degrees in education and were wrestling with these decisions concerning children of their own.  We had a group of young professional friends highly educated about education and neurotically analyzing every aspect of each preschool system and its possible implications on growth, development, character, morality, intellect, and future success.

In some respects this is a very exciting and beneficial environment for raising ones child.  In other respects, it is a quagmirey hell of second guessing and too much information.

But, make a decision we did, and I think it will turn out to be the right decision for us and for Lucy.  For preschool.  So 8am came (well, 8:07am) and we walked Lucy into her brand new preschool building (well, Don and I walked, and Lucy bounced) wearing the first day of school outfit she requested (jean skirt, cookie shirt, her friend Pauline’s old play shoes), her tummy full of the first day of school breakfast she had ordered the night before (oatmeal).  Don held out little video camera, capturing the moments, while I held Lucy’s hand through the parking lot.

And Lucy, how did she do?  Were there tears of separation and anxiety?  A long, drawn out goodbye?  Was she nervous about entering the classroom already full of children loudly playing and interacting and joining them on their little gathering mat?

Um, no.

Lucy quickly found her special cubby (there is a picture of a ladybug above it, which starts with an “L” just like “Lucy”) and hung up her backpack.  (Note: Yes, she has a backpack for preschool.  All the kids do.  Yes, I totally overdid it and bought her a purple backpack with a pink horse on it from Pottery Barn and had her name embroidered on it.  Yes it is ridiculous.  What does a preschooler carry in her backpack, you ask?  Well, today it was  a stuffed squirrel, two American Girl doll books (Kaya), a tin of magnetic dolls that we took on our trip, a folded up blanket, some felt sandwich food, two bracelets, a bag of cheerios and dried fruit, her sunglasses, and a fruit and vegetable pouch.  She will not put her backpack on unless it is bulging out of the sides.  Literally.)  She then ran past us into the room, stopped for exactly three seconds to locate her friend C, then ran up to her, grabbed her in an aggressive toddler embrace, and started jumping up and down for the next 90 seconds.  Her teacher called her back to the front of the room to put her ladybug popsicle stick into the “here at school today” cup, and Lucy immediately ran back to the circle of children.
Parents?  What parents?

Don and I glanced at each other and at the teacher.  That was it?  No hugs?  No goodbyes?  Should we just leave since she is so happy?  Should we force her to say goodbye to us to acknowledge the magnitude of our own emotions?  Finally, her teacher saved us.

“Lucy, would you like to say goodbye to your mom and dad before we begin?”

Lucy pranced over (literally) and we each had barely a second to put our arms around her and kiss her cheek before she wriggled away and ran back to her friend. 

As we walked out the door and back to our car, Don and I held hands.

“Well, I guess we made the right decision to send her this year.”

“Yeah, no kidding.”

“Maybe we should think about upping her days from two to three or five.”

“Yeah, no kidding.”

Still not ready to miss this face every morning.

Or maybe not.

Bonus Recipe for First Day of School Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

3 cups of water
1 cup whole oats
1/4 cup barley
1/4 cup farro
1 1/2 tablespoons of flax seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons oat bran
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 medium apple diced into small pieces
1/3 cup raisins
1-2 tablespoons of butter
sweetener to taste (brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, agave syrup, whatever)

1.  Bring water to a boil in a small pot.  When the water starts to steam add the apples and raisins to cook them through and plump them up.

2.  When the water is a t a full boil add the oats, faro, barley, flax seeds and bran.  I usually put these all together in a measuring cup and shake it a little bit to let the bran, cinnamon and flax seeds permeate through the cracks.  This keeps them from clumping when you add them to the water.  Stir well and put the heat on low.

3.  It takes about 10-20 minutes to cook all of the grains through, but I usually know its done when they absorb all of the water.  Then I stir in the butter and something sweet, and scoop some out in a bowl to let it cool down.  I have to let it cool on the counter for at least 5 minutes before Lucy sees it, or she will start eating it without checking and scald her mouth.

4.  It can be saved and reheated for several days.  When I reheat it I add a splash of milk or cream before popping it in the microwave for 30 seconds.

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