Sending a toddler to school for the first time is like the sound of a dial tone following a brief phone conversation. It’s the moment of silence after the first guitar lick in this Foo Fighters song. It’s the half-second after the countdown in “Apollo 13” when you think maybe the rocket isn’t going to leave the launch pad after all.
Declan is now a month into his time at Arcadia Montessori and he seems to like it. His speech has really taken off. He’s sharing toys a little better.
But that first week, man. That was hard. For all of us.
I dropped him off and saw the uncertainty. Heard the crying. The pleas to pick him up. To stay home. To go do anything else. In retrospect, it’s clear it was just the natural pushback to a new routine. We all do it. Toddlers for sure. Adults more than we’d like to admit.
But in the moment, it was all anguish and uncertainty. We didn’t know if he’d settle in or not. Whether we’d picked the right daycare situation or not. Whether the school enployees we called to check on him were being completely honest or not.
It was a normal modern parent freak out. Because apparently we think we’re the only ones to ever go through this. And maybe our kid will be the one who can’t hack school. Who’ll never potty train. Or be a healthy eater. Or get a job someday.
Not likely. But we worry anyway.
Being a parent is flying blind sometimes. And learning how to make space for the discomfort, for the uncomfortably long dial tone, for the radio silence before the cathartic sound of electric guitar erupts to reassure you everything will be alright.