Gareth started school this past Thursday. Mal started this past Monday. I did take pictures of both of them, but I took them on the real camera and have now realized I don't know where I packed the cord to connect the camera to the computer. So no first day pictures for you.
Malcolm loves his preschool. He loves playing in the outdoor space and loves the different spaces they have available indoors as well. He doesn't seem to interact with any other kids much, but that's fine. He's just a few days in and he's always been one to hang back and check things out before joining in. And anyway, Gareth didn't start showing much interest in playing with other kids his age until he was almost four. So I'm hopeful that as he gets a bit older and more familiar with the space and the kids that he'll eventually start interacting with others more.
Gareth's first day seemed to go okay. I had a hard day, emotionally. Just a day filled with missing his and my friends and twinges of regret that we moved or wondering if we should have at least tried to keep him at his old school. Rationally, I know that the things that feel weird and different at this new school aren't necessarily bad. And I know that in the long run it will benefit Gareth to also have friends in our new neighborhood, since we plan to be here for a long, long while. But on that first day, it was tough to keep that in mind. I missed walking onto the playground and being greeted by people who are happy to see me and I them.
Gareth was a bit hesitant when we got to the school. They're supposed to all line up at their class number and then the teachers come get them and walk them to class when the bell rings (first weird thing - at the old school everyone just runs into class when the bell rings). But we were there early and he had time to play. I asked if I could go and the look on his face just about killed me. Hesitation from realizing he doesn't have any friends to run off with, and doesn't know the school. So I offered to stay and once he knew I'd stay for a bit he ran off to play by himself on the playground. He came back just before the bell rang and seemed a little more at ease, so I said goodbye. After school he commented that he doesn't have much to do at recess when he doesn't have any friends. Despite knowing it was just the first day, hardly enough time to get to know people and make friends, it hurt to hear. Weird thing number two was arriving to find parents lined up about four deep, facing the school. It seemed way too organized. The teachers also walk the students out and the students have to point out "their person" before they're allowed to leave. What if a kid is allowed to walk home on their own? Seems a bit ridiculous to me (and makes it hard for me to casually get to know other parents in his class because there's no waiting in the hallway together). But I'm guessing they have a reason for it, perhaps the proximity of the school to a busy street or a number of students with custody issues or some other safety issues. I'm sure it'll feel less weird eventually.
But things are looking up after day two. He said some kids invited him to play soccer at recess and they had talked about playing again on Monday. So he seemed more optimistic about making friends. And I've promised that we'll set up times to play with his friends very soon. This weekend he's at a sleepover with a friend from the old neighborhood. We'll just have to be more intentional about keeping those friendships, but I think it's something we can do.