It was about 10:30pm on Monday night when I finally said what we were both thinking but afraid to say it – almost as if it’s not said than we don’t have to be anxious about it. “This will be the first time since returning to China with Meili that we are leaving her in the care of a stranger…all by herself.” Tracy looked at me with that look only she can give me…”I know!” she says with a mixture of silly annoyance and serious thought. Considering how she found her way into our lives, dropping Meili off for school was no casual matter and we both pushed down the anxious. After all, the house had a nervous energy buzzing through it all day and night. Leila was very excited about starting kindergarten the next morning and Tristan was excited to meet all the new cute girls waiting for him in the third grade. Corbin, on the other hand, had fast acquired his father’s love for lazy days so summer’s end was a time for quiet disappointment – yet there even bubbled a little excitement for a new school year and the respect that comes with the eighth grade.
The morning was as hectic as so many first days of school with half dressed children chasing, teasing and aggravating each other. Half eaten breakfast littered the kitchen table and the lunch boxes with backpacks lay out across the counters waiting for their precious cargo of imagination fuel. Tracy carries such an amazing weight of planning and teaching in this house that it is only on days like this where one can really witness the gifts she has! Without to much controlled chaos, we made our way outside to take the annual first day of school picture with a new, lovely tan face added then we loaded up the car. Meili didn’t understand our dropping of Leila off with the boys at her new school (Meili is attending Leila’s old preschool) and began to call out for her as we drove off. I think it was about that time the reality began to set in for Meili that her first day of school would be all her own. She remained slightly excited and nervous for the short drive over to her school.
As soon as we got out of the car, Meili was immediately reaching for Tracy and for the rest of the time we were with her – she never let Tracy go. Either she was holding her hand or simply touching Tracy’s leg – but Mom was not going to be out of reach, no way! Meili’s preschool is a great little world for these tiny humans – a warm and caring environment that makes it easier on anxious Mom and Dad’s.
It took some coaxing, hugging and conversation but Meili eventually allowed us to leave her with her new teacher – actually, at some point we had to turn and run! Those of you who have danced this number before know how hard it is to balance between social growth and believing Mom and Dad are always going to be around. Trusting we left her in capable hands, we quietly walked back to the car wondering how she was going to respond. We knew if she gave it a shot, this was going to a place of great fun and fond memories.
Of course, there was that small fear for the other children in the class – you just don’t mess with Meili, if you know what I mean. All those other 2 or 3 year old cream-puffs have been raised on Dorah the Explorer and doughy muffins while Meili was eating rice from a bowl in southern China! More than once, I have been given the “You-Know-Where-You-Can-Go” look after attempting to correct our 22lb bundle of attitude – I love it! You can quickly read her face…”I will take you down all 6ft of your pale-whiteness if you touch my not-empty plate again!” Of course, I make light but Meili is really a very tough little girl – having fought for her own survival for the first year of her life, we wonder how she will do in these new social situations. Only time will tell but she appears to be doing well so far!!!
The 3 hours of her school day passed slowly – it was finally time to get Meili and Tracy returned to get her. Instead of parking and going inside to get her, Tracy opted to allow for the ladies to bring Meili to the car. Of course, it was me who insisted we take her inside ourselves earlier that morning while Tracy thought it better to drop her off in carpool (to help with the separation stuff). Tracy will just rip the band-aid off where I have to let it soak in water a little so it will just fall off. So out walks our newest student with that over-sized pink backpack swaying from side to side with each step – smiling from ear to ear. She was so happy to see Mom and so happy to have attended her first day of school.
Next comes…potty training…