Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Beginning and an End

In the summer of 2010, we started having issues with the nanny we'd had for over a year. Amelia had grown big enough to start telling us about the nanny working on her computer and her phone all day. She'd started crying when I left for work in the morning and began having frequent potty accidents months after being trained to use the toilet. I actually blamed myself for these issues, thinking I was working too much and not home enough. We'd started looking for a new caregiver, but planned on keeping Ashley until we could find someone else. We didn't think Amelia was in any danger and we wanted to make a sound decision on our terms about the next step. We were mostly annoyed by the laziness and selfishness of the nanny, Ashley.  Anyway to make a long story short, two weeks after the fall semester started, Ashley quit. Like in the morning as I was leaving for work. And in her all-arrogant non-brilliance, announced as her reason for leaving "This isn't working out." Yeah. Duh. (And yeah, it still pissed me off to this day.)

So there I was, already entrenched in the new school year and with no wiggle room in my schedule--or capacity for stress. I pretty much wrote about all this in a previous blog here

In any case, I spent the day on the phone trying to figure out the next step and mostly just panicking. On my way home on the day Ashley quit, I spotted a sign for a school right next to the college where I work and pulled in. Literally on a crazy whim. I told Justin I'd call him back, that I'd thought I'd just stop in and ask a couple questions. It seemed like a good place to at least start since it was in my path of travel on that panicked afternoon. There are two preschools on this site and I didn't even know what the difference was. I walked into one and they directed me to the other little house/school. When I walked in, it was dark and quiet as the children were napping. The sweet teacher (who is now a good friend and soul sister of mine), asked me what I was looking for in a school. I had no idea. She introduced me to the school's owner, who put on the sales pitch pretty heavily. I half listened, unable to think. As she spoke, I thought of a question here and there, and mostly just looked around. 

When I went home for the weekend that night, it was the only lead I had. I didn't even know of other schools or what area we would even look at for potential schools. Over the weekend, we talked a lot about this school I'd checked out and compared it to the things we most wanted for Amelia. It appeared to match up. We assumed this was because we hadn't see any other schools and because we literally didn't know what we were talking about. Because we were dazed and stressed, we figured that this school looked kind of ideal. Amelia was enrolled within a week. I blogged about her first day at the time. It was a rough culmination of a stress-packed couple of weeks. 

Well today was Amelia's last day of preschool. She started that fall right after she turned two.
So little. 

In her three years at preschool, she's become an entirely different child. My sweet, shy, little love has become queen of the playground. When she walks into school, her friends flock to her and throw their arms around her neck. Once too quiet to talk to adults, she now openly gabs with the teachers, sometimes telling them the funniest things ("Today, Amelia told us that her parents are on the bus to Crazy Town and that she's the driver!") and giving them hugs good bye. Once so tiny that her backpack and lunch pail dwarfed her, she now loads and carries them both herself, flinging the car door open to toss them on the front seat before buckling herself into her seat. So capable, independent. She now dresses herself for school and brushes her own hair before trotting out the door. 

She's also become a sister since then--and that's no accident. I credit Amelia's preschool with Annie's existence.  After such a difficult beginning with Amelia, we (okay *I* was) were reluctant/hesitant to even think about another baby. But when she started going to school, it made me realize that things do get easier as they get older. It was the first time since her birth that I had hours alone outside of work. It helped me see myself as an independent being again--just as it made me see her as a more independent person. 

Nowadays, Amelia lets Annie carry the lunch pail into school every morning. It makes Annie feel so grown. 

Although, if I'm being totally honest, this little ritual has recently changed.  For her 5th birthday, she got an awesome superhero lunch pail. . . and doesn't let Sissy carry it anymore. She does, however, show it off in pictures. ha. 

It's really crazy the way I found her little school because we love it. As it turns out, it literally has everything we could have wanted in a school--and lots of things we didn't know we wanted/needed. It's a hippy dippy school where they don't believe in discipline but teaching kids how to handle themselves and their issues instead. They have a focus on Child Development and teach kids independence in a safe, loving environment. At school, Amelia gets to do all the things I cringe over at home--making huge messes playing with corn meal, painting poster-sized art, and creating shaving cream clouds.  

They put this picture on the wall at school, all by itself with a little plaque with Amelia's name. It's still there. 

I guess all I'm really trying to say is that we are so thrilled with Amelia's experience in preschool. She has blossomed, grown, and learned so very much in the care of the beautiful, loving, and kind teachers there. It is through her experience at preschool that she trusts adults and makes friends and looks forward to Kindergarten. And that she can keep a beat, dance in the middle of a circle, and identify her favorite color of apple. 

It is during her time at preschool that Amelia Jane has gone from this 
to this

And here she is today, her LAST day of preschool (which corresponded with a field trip to a Kindergarten class!) 

I can't even believe the transformation of the last three years . . . or what the next three can possibly bring her way. 

And even though all the signs were there, I did not anticipate her last day of preschool to hit me very hard. But of course it did. Like everything else, it seems. I just hope it's exciting for Amelia. I know she's a worrier by nature.  I don't think she quite realizes that she won't be seeing her little peeps anymore because they're all going to different elementary schools. But I do think she's ready for a break from school for a while and a lot of Mommy time. This summer is all about getting ready for the big leagues. 

Other pics from today . . . 

Amelia's lunch, including dolphin-shaped sandwich, cookie, raspberries, Pirate's booty, and fun tag. 

Teacher gifts! Okay, they're not all cookies, but you've got Kahlua bundt cakes, peanut butter chocolate chip bars, magic bars, and oatmeal white chocolate cookies. The adorable tag is a free printable found on this blog. I printed them on full sheet labels, cut, and stuck them on the lids of the containers. It's a drop in the bucket of thanks owed to Amelia's awesome teachers. They are the women who've helped us raise her the last three years--such a crucial part of our village. 

Meanwhile, we had to wake up super early today to get Amelia to school in time for the Kindergarten field trip. Annie was not okay with it. 

She's not a morning baby, turns out. Seriously. She did this when we got home. 

Then we went for a walk on our last day alone for the summer. 

Thank goodness for this little Nugget! It's hard to believe that she'll be old enough to start preschool soon. . . 

Congratulations Amelia! You are onto the next chapter, my sweet love. Heaven knows you rocked yourself some preschool!