The original plan was to wait until January to enroll Jackson in preschool. The reasoning was that Jackson would (hopefully) be fully potty-trained, the babies would be getting mobile, and we would be able to budget enough money for a few months. I'd been thinking more and more about pre-school after watching Jackson follow the teacher around during weekly Storytime, coupled with the fact that he regularly asks, "I go to school?". He needs socialization and a break from the babies as much as I need a break from toddler tantrums. The deciding factor to enroll him now was receiving an unexpected bonus based on last years students' performance (a bonus so large it will cover the mortgage for the rest of the year).
Here was my criteria when searching for a preschool:
- no more than $150 per month
- either Mon/Wed or Tue/Thu (I want my Fridays free)
- program hours from 9-1
- a 10 minute drive or less
- allow child to wear diapers (i.e. not required to be potty-trained)
- drop off/pick up line (so I don't have to bring the babies in every time)
We were able to find a preschool that meets each of these requirements. Technically, they don't have a drop off line, but they are accommodating by having a teacher escort Jackson to and from the classroom for me. It is at a church so it's definitely a faith-based curriculum. While that's not something I was seeking, it couldn't hurt to add a little prayer to our kids lives. I took all four kids to tour the school and fill out registration paperwork on Tuesday. Wednesday Jackson and I went shopping for the never ending school supply list. This is just the generic required list:
There was a secondary, class-specific list as well! In addition to the listed items, we also had to purchase pull-ups since they don't accept cloth diapers. (His teacher requires pull-ups rather than regular diapers.) We then had to get a lunchbox since Jackson will now be packing a lunch twice a week. Jackson picked out Spiderman.
Jackson was pretty keyed up from his late night WalMart trip and exciting new purchases. After his bath he laid out his clothes, packed his back pack, and made his lunch.
Even though Jackson normally wakes up by 7:30 AM, I had to wake him up around 8:20. I had just awoken in a panic a few minutes prior. I had twenty minutes to wake up, change, and dress all four kids. Jackson needed breakfast and we all had to get in the van and out the door. I felt like I had run a marathon by the time we got to school.
I made sure to snap a quick "first day of school" picture. I was so rushed I only took two, compared to my usual 20 photos.
When I pulled up to the church building there were already a dozen or more moms standing with their kids. I was told on Tuesday to wait 'til a staff member came out to greet us so I wouldn't have to leave the babies. Once the director unlocked the doors and parents began escorting their children, Jack kept repeating, "C'mon. Go to school." He was so eager. His teacher came out and took his hand and he just walked away. No goodbye hug or kiss for Mommy!
I was alarmed when the director called me at lunchtime. She just wanted to give me her cell phone number so I could call her when I got there and they would either bring Jackson out or stay by the van if I wanted to run in and talk to his teacher. I was informed that Jackson was well-behaved, but was given more freedom today while he learns the routines. She said that he was looking at stories while his classmates were coloring. (He is one of six students.)
The first hour that I was home with just the babies, I had the overwhelming urge to be as productive as possible. I fed and changed the babies, gave them each individual time, pumped, did a load of laundry, swept the floors, and uploaded pictures. After an hour the trio settled in for a nap and I spent an hour on the couch talking to a college friend and surfing the web. Time snuck away from me and I found myself rushing to eat lunch and feed the babies before picking up Jack.
When Jackson first saw me, he waved, grinned, and shouted "Hey, Mommy! They not let me eat candy!" He then opened his lunchbox, gave me the mini Butterfinger that came with his lunchable, and demanded "open". I found this perplexing and hysterically funny.
I was happily surprised to receive a folder full of Jack's daily work. The curriculum seems a bit advanced and far-fetched. Apparently he worked on the letter "F" by tracing it and gluing Goldfish.
As soon as Jackson got home he started to pack his own lunch for tomorrow. I kept reminding him that we don't have school on Fridays, but he continued to argue, "No! I go to school tomorrow!"