She began spending a few hours a day in the big kids' room at the beginning of the month and then last week she entered it permanently. The first few days were horrible. She cried and screamed in the mornings during drop-off, she acted out horrifically in the evenings, she didn't eat much and she had nightmares when she slept. During the school day she focused so hard on holding herself together that she was exhausted when I picked her up. Her new teacher praised her to the skies for listening so well, for following instructions immediately, for being quiet during quiet time. I had to explain to the teacher that those are all signs of E's discomfort, not comfort as she believed. E was doing everything to avoid notice, essentially -- to avoid calling attention to herself. I told the teacher, only a little bit jokingly, that when E gets rambunctious and sassy, that's when we'll know she's reached "comfortable."
By Thursday of last week when I picked the girls up and asked E how her day was she replied, with a huge smile on her face to imply that this was a Really Good Answer, nothing bad happened! I couldn't help it; I laughed. On Friday I picked them up and she ran to me, squealing nothing bad happened, Mama!
A busy weekend made returning to school on Monday very difficult for E but each afternoon she volunteered that nothing bad happened! as if I was the one who needed reassuring, and perhaps I was. This morning, though, I dropped her off for the first time without any tears. She moaned plenty, but I finally got the sense that she was starting to enjoy the new room despite her intentions to hate it.
Each day, one of the afternoon teachers gave me a reconnaissance report on E's adjustment to the class. As the days progressed, the reports improved -- that she was playing with more kids, that she cried for shorter periods when I left, that she was opening up to the intimidating teacher. But she wouldn't let me know about these small triumphs herself. She would only tell me that nothing bad happened.
This afternoon the afternoon teacher who had been serving as my spy told me that E had a really good day. She told me that E has developed a bit of a crush on a four-year-old named Ryan, and that they as across the table from each other, Ryan with his hand on top of the table and E stroking his fingers. Then when they went outside to play Ryan made sure the big kids saved E a red tricycle. Then, back inside, Ryan left his hands on top of the table just for E to find and tickle.
When I asked E about Ryan, she said we played fingers! I'm going to have to find this chivalrous boy and thank him for being so kind to my girl (and warn him that he'd better keep all tickle games above-table), because before she said that, she said what I've been waiting almost two weeks to hear:
Mama! It was a good day!