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For two months, I’d prepared the Boo for school with a multi-pronged campaign of propaganda. I started by reading him chirpy, syrupy books about first days of school (four or five of them, from Baby Elmo to Maisie to Harry and his dinosaurs). After a while, he rejected them.

So I started playing school with him, making his train set figures ride in cars to school, where Mama would drop the Boo with his nice teachers and friends, and then leave to go to Target. The Hubs and I talked excitedly about school, saying what a cool big-boy thing it was going to be and how much fun he’d have.

Last week, I added a song recommended by my mom’s friend, a very experienced early childhood teacher. Here, check out the video, it’s pretty amusing.

The Boo loved the video and did not object to me singing the song to him at every nap and bed time. I also whistled it a lot to get the association nice and deep into his little brain.

Then the day arrived. The Hubs, his mom, Boo and I all went together to take photos and visit his classroom. The hubs left with his mom, and I stayed with the Boo for about ten minutes, talking to him and his teachers, and helping him glue some stuff.

Then I took a deep breath and said, “I will help you put your photo up, and then I’m going to go.” I made masking tape loops and had him help me position it and pat it in place. I explained that we did this so he could find his hook without needing to read. Then I gave him a big hug and kiss, told him I loved him and would see him soon, took another deep breath, turned around, and left.

I rounded several corners and made my way to the Director’s office, where I made myself a cup of tea, smeared some cream cheese on a bagel, and reminded myself to keep breathing. I didn’t exactly feel like I was going to pass out, but I was fuzzy and disoriented. I’ve spent the past two and a half years within sight and/or hearing of my kid, and suddenly not being able to see or hear him felt completely wrong.

Another mom and I went to the school’s foyer and chatted with the Director for the next hour. It was distracting, and it was nice to get to know them better, but it was difficult (and a little bizarre) to sit there socializing, knowing my kid was probably having a hard time at the other end of the building.

Later, as I chatted with an old friend, I realized what else was bugging me: This is the first time I’ve trusted anyone other than a family member to take care of him. I hadn’t realized that when people talk about letting go of your kids, they’re really talking about relinquishing control. It’s a good thing for both of us — but in my focused drive to prepare him, I hadn’t realized how much of an adjustment it would be for me.

At the end of the class, the teacher brought the (weepy, babbling) Boo to me. I knelt down to cuddle him as the teacher gave me the full report, cradling his head in my hand as I listened to her. The important part: He was never so distressed that he needed to be brought to me. This was better than I expected, a success in the teacher’s view and in my book. But the most amazing thing about the Boo’s first day of school? I didn’t cry when I said goodbye to him.

I guess my propaganda campaign worked after all.

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