Monday, September 10, 2012


So, today begins our first full week of Pre-School and there are a few things I want to be sure to document before things start to pick up.

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Even though people have been asking about our plans for school for two years now, I knew I couldn't even consider it until we were ready.  Since Iain's death, I wanted to keep her with me during that transition of the first year.  This past spring when everyone else was making pre-school plans, I was in the middle of listing my house, getting it market-ready, selling it and moving to Lake Charles.  It was mid-summer until I could start to seriously think of school and I knew many, if not most, programs were already full. 

Since Gianna has been with me all day since she was an infant, and since she was a little concerned about separating from me since her Daddy died, I really desired a little half-day program while we transitioned into our new lives.  As I asked moms about their pre-school experiences, I kept coming back to a little private Christian school called Poise-N-Ivy. Any time I mention the school, people rave about their experience.  It's been around for 30+ years and I've yet to hear a negative comment. 

As Gianna approached her 4th birthday, I called the director of the school and within minutes of conversing with this precious lady, I was completely sold.  She said that they were very proud of their curriculum, but their desire was to "saturate these little ones in the love of Jesus."  SOLD!!  I shared with her our situation and my hope for Gianna to have a really positive experience this first time away from me.  She assured me of her daily prayers for me and Gianna and even asked my husband's name so she could add him to her prayer list. That just melted my heart.  

The problem was, there was a waiting list - which was not short.  She assured me that if Gianna was supposed to be there, I would be surprised how circumstances would work so that it could happen.   We seemed to have a real soul connection and I knew that was by design.  I was completely filled with peace, even if Gianna wouldn't get in until mid-year. I just knew this was our school.

I was happy to at least have an answer for people when they asked where Gianna was going to school in the fall.  "She's on a waiting list." sounds so much better than, "I just don't know *sob* *sob*." People asked what my Plan B was and I told them there was none.  That's were I wanted her. I had a few people trying to convince me to put her in the Catholic School I went to as a kid (which I'm not against - just  not ready for - logistically or financially.) I know what feels right to me and this was the only option I had peace with. 

Fast forward a few weeks and Pam, the director, called me with the news that twins in the Pre-K 4 program were moving out of town and many people on the waiting list had other plans for school already.  I was filled with joy and now had to sell the idea to Gianna (who, for a year, has cried every time I brought up the subject of school.)  God must have been working on her heart too, because she was completely receptive to the idea and was very excited. Whew.

Pam told me to come the next day to register her and to bring Gianna.  We were the only ones there and she spent an hour with us acclimating Gianna to her new school and answering her 2,352 questions with patience and kindness. At the time, there was not a teacher in place for Gianna's class.  Pam was working on someone who she believed would be a perfect fit - "Same feeling I had with you and Gianna." she said. And boy, it turned out to be just that.

The week before school began, we had our Meet and Greet. They were smart to assign times to each family to where they could visit with the teacher and 2 or 3 other kids in the class.  Gianna was so excited and as we pulled up to school that Sunday afternoon, my eyes surprisingly flooded with tears.  All my eyes saw was the daddies walking in with their kids( the moms were there too - but the dads really stood out).  My heart just ached.  I was so focused on Gianna that it didn't occur to me that Iain's absence would be so enormous at this moment.  It wasn't really just this moment - it was for the entire breadth of Gianna's school career. It was just sad and painful.  He wasn't here. Those reminders are kicks in the gut.

I got it together and went in to the school.  Gianna's teacher is Ms. Lisa and is absolutely precious. We had already been in contact by email already and each of us had been praying for the other.  She shared a little of her story and said Ms. Pam knew that she and Gianna would be a great match. 

Meanwhile, Gianna was using her stellar social skills to entertain the troops.  She introduced herself to the other kids and asked their names. It happened to be during the week she started her joke telling, so she asked if they wanted to her some jokes and she started her little stand up routine.  The kids weren't so impressed but the adults were cracking up.  I looked at the teacher and said, "Buckle up, Ms. Lisa!"

We were given folders with all the necessary information for the school year and in it was a list of the students, birthdays, parents and phone numbers.  I scanned the list and Gianna's name stood out.  It was last on the list, which was understandable since we were late in registering, but it stood out because she was the only child who had only one parent.  Seeing it in print, I could hardly breath. I felt a lump in my throat and my eyes, again, filled with tears. I'm a single parents.  I'm sure there were other single parents - but there were two of them.  Ouch.  I felt like I no longer fit into what's considered normal.  It is so strange not knowing what is going to trigger an emotional reaction in this world of grief.  Interestingly, most of the things I prepare myself for - don't affect me, and then things like this just level me.

I also watched as two of the girls were re-united from their class last year.  Gianna was all right there with them and they didn't want a whole lot to do with her.  (One didn't mind - but the other was visibly irritated by Gianna's attempts to befriend them.)  I tried to re-direct Gianna, but I just had to let it play out. I hate watching my child not being accepted. I explained to Gianna that it might take a little while for the others to get used to her.

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The first week was short (3 days) and was hugely successful. She has to be at school at 8:30 and I bring her a little after 8:00 so she can play and socialize. She hops out of the car in the morning saying, "I'm going to have a great day! I love you, Mommy."

When I pick her up at around 11:15-11:30 she is just as happy and excited. She tells me about her day and is so funny in her commentary.

On Friday, I asked if she was a good listener. She said she was.  I asked if Ms. Lisa had to move her monkey (behavior chart) and she said no. I told her that there may be times in the future when she'd have a rough day and she might get fussed at and that it was okay to tell me about that.

Her response was, "Welllllllllllllllllllllllll....."

Me:  What Gianna?
G:  Welllll.....I got in a littttllllle trouble.
Me:  Gianna, don't make up stories.
G: I'm not.
Me: What did you do?
G: I colored on the table a little.
Me:  Gianna, don't tell just because I said  you might get in trouble some days.  (She's been fabricating all sorts of experiences lately.)
G: I'm not making it up.
Me:  Gianna, I'm serious, tell Mommy the truth.
G:  I AM telling the truth.
Me: Did you really write on the table?
G:  Yes.
Me:  You said you didn't get fussed at.
G:  I didn't. I just got a warning.
Me:  What did Ms. Lisa say?
G: She said, "Ms. Pam paid a lot of money for these tables."
I knew she was telling the truth at this point!!!!
Me:  Oh Gianna. Were you the only one?
G: No, Mommy. Other kids did it too.
Me:  Here we go. 

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What a fun year this will be.
I am secretly hoping Ms. Lisa doesn't have a blog!!!!!!!!


  1. Praying for you and Gianna to have a very successful year of pre-school. My 4 year old girl is autistic and we are keeping her home another year so she will be 'ready'. She has lots of emotional outbursts and mood changes. I always look forward to your posts. God is good! I sure hope I can find a school as good as the one you have found. Already praying about it.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. Figuring out the whole school thing is so stressful - especially when there are special circumstances regarding your child. It certainly takes a lot of faith in order to not give in to the anxiety. I'll join you in prayer as you discern your path. :)

  2. Update! Update! I can't wait to hear more & know how she's doing! Is she making friends? Is Mommy surviving school, too?

  3. Love it, Maria! This is the pre-school I'm heavily considering for Dominic next fall. I'm actually not an Abeka curriculum fan at all, but I feel like all the other factors are exactly what I'm looking for (especially the director's reputation), and he's not going to be hurt by a couple hours of desk time five days a week. ;) I'd love to hear more as the school year progresses!


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