To kick off the new year fully, today was Aya's first day of "pre-school" here in Dar (and big thanks that the big kids were back to school as well after 3 pretty boring vacation weeks!). She'll be going 3 mornings a week (just 3 hours) to start. We've been talking about it a lot at home so at first this morning she was like "Aya's backpack. Aya school." But then when it was actually time to go she wouldn't put on her backpack or let me take her picture. Fair enough.
We first had to drop Noah off at his school. He REALLY wanted to take Aya to school but hers starts a little later. She still didn't want her picture taken but HE really wanted a picture with her on her first day. Both Noah and Grace were really excited for her and sweet on her this morning.
Here you can see she is trying to get big brother to take his hands off her!
At Noah's school there are rabbits and tortoises and she always loves to see them. That put her in a better mood and she was in pretty good spirits when we arrived at her school. Upon walking into the compound I could see the look on her face, like a light bulb was turned on...I think she remembered how much she liked it when we visited in November. She immediately said, "Aya slide. Aya bike. Aya play outside." So that was a very good sign.
(I could not get direct pictures as I was trying to play it cool and be low-key so as not to freak her out.)
(her snack bag was a little heavy!)
Walking into her classroom one of the assistants, Joyce, grabbed Aya's hand and Aya smiled up at her. When we hung up her bags, there was a critical pause - like, what's going to happen now? She did not cry, but she wasn't super smiley either. Just sort of...skeptical. I asked her if she wanted to go slide with Miss Joyce and she put her arms up to Miss Joyce saying, "Aya slide." Joyce said, "Say bye bye, Mama" and so Aya said, "bye bye, Mama!" and off they went. I wanted to follow to capture more pictures, but really I didn't want to make her cry and knew that I would be pushing my luck.
So I snuck out and came back at 11 instead of the regular pick up time of 11:30. I was sure she would be exhausted and ready to go home. But her main teacher, Helen, ran out and told me that Aya wasn't ready to go. She said that she couldn't believe Aya was not yet 2 years old...she listened really well and did was she was told to do, repeated everything, played and sang and danced at circle time, she ate all of her snack, she loved to be outside, and she was happy and smiling and so sweet. Wow - music to a mother's ears! So I waited a little while longer trying to take stalkerish pictures from outside the window. It was very sweet to watch her.
After I snapped this picture from inside the classroom, Aya finally saw me and came running over! "Mama pick up! Mama pick up!" I picked her up and we had the greatest reunion hug ever. She told me right away, "Play outside. Music. Dancing." A full day! As we left to go home she said, "bye bye friends" to all of the kids and teachers. It was like a dream.
Our little girl has started to have a little life of her own. I feel we are both ready for it - although I did have a good cry for a few minutes in the car after leaving her. That's the thing about parenthood - their milestones are wonderful and memorable and you're so happy for them, but they are also bittersweet as you have to let go of your child a little bit more. Clearly Aya was ready for it, though, and I feel so good about the decision we made to send her to this school. She doesn't go on Tuesdays, so let's see how it goes on Wednesday!
Happy New Year!