I have to share the sweetest tradition passed on to us from my friend Audrey. Audrey has two gorgeous children, the very handsome Cormac, and the very precocious Margo. Margo is going to be a big big star. I can tell. She's 5.
In all the hullaballoo leading up to Jack starting school, I got lots of sweet notes, and advice, and stories about tearful drop-offs that lead into very happy pick ups. But Audrey mentioned a book that helped Margo transition. It's called The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn (not my friend Audrey). I haven't read it, but it's already helped us immensely. I was lying in bed last night tossing and turning, and I remembered the story, and resolved to try it, if Jack was struggling when I dropped him off in the morning.
Here's the story (from the publisher):
Chester Raccoon doesn't want to go to school--he wants to stay home with his mother. She assures him that he'll love school--with its promise of new friends, new toys, and new books. Even better, she has a special secret that's been in the family for years--the Kissing Hand. This secret, she tells him, will make school seem as cozy as home. She takes her son's hand, spreads his tiny fingers into a fan and kisses his palm--smack dab in the middle: "Chester felt his mother's kiss rush from his hand, up his arm, and into his heart." Whenever he feels lonely at school, all he has to do is press his hand to his cheek to feel the warmth of his mother's kiss. Chester is so pleased with his Kissing Hand that he gives his mom a Kissing Hand, too, to comfort her when he is away.
I won't spoil the end, but I defy you to remain dry eyed if you have spawn of your own
As we were getting ready for school, I showed Jack the blankie I sewed for him. I told him, I had filled it with hugs and kisses, so when he naps, he'll be covered in hugs and kisses from mommy and daddy. He made me wrap him up in it, and said that it felt "really soft". Ok mom, good job. You can do this.
On the way to school, he seemed a little apprehensive. He told me about how his teacher had read them stories on the green carpet and that he'd liked it, but also he had cried too. I told him all about my plan to fill his hands with kisses, so that when he was feeling sad, or lonesome, or scared, he could touch his hand to his cheek and get a kiss from mommy. He said "that was a good idea".
Cut to 7 minutes later in the parking lot of the school, where I'm kissing his hands, and he's holding back tears, and clinging to my neck so hard, I'm convinced he's part monkey. We go inside, and I say ok, let's fill those hands back up with kisses before I have to go, but he's too busy touching them all over his face, while I'm still right there, and he's crying, but trying really hard not to, and his little face is all screwed up into this terrible mask of doom. Gulp, kiss pat, "Mommy?" sob, kiss pat, "MOMMY?", kiss pat, kiss pat, kiss pat. SOMEBODY PLEASE PUT ME OUT OF MY MISERY!!!
At last one of his teachers realizes that I am far to weak to break this never ending cycle of despair, comes over, peels him off of me, sets him on her lap, says "Say bye bye to mama Jack, you'll see her in a little bit". THANK YOU! He waves this sad little wave, but he's not crying anymore, and I turn, and put on my biggest smile, and say "I love you bubs, I'll see you in a few hours!" I walk outside, and let out a tiny little sob once the door is closed. Cleo's mom is walking out with me, and I sort of hope she didn't hear it, or notice that I'm crying a little under my Ray-Bans. She pats me on the back. She knows. I tell her I can't tell Nipper how rough that was, and she laughs, and says "He said the exact same thing last week when he dropped Jack off".
We are soft.
Oh, and by the way, when we picked him up, he was gluing popsicle sticks onto some construction paper. It took him 5 minutes to notice we were even there and STARING AT HIM. He turned and said cheerfully "Oh hey guys, I didn't know you were here!".
We are dumb.