This has been a big week for Grace as she started at her Mothers' Day Out program. It has gone really smoothly so far and she seems to be adjusting well to the new environment. Grace has spent plenty of time away from me while I have worked but this is the first time she is in a preschool-type environment with a teacher and multiple kids and a classroom and transitions between activities and all that. I'm not sure how different it seems to her from the church nursery, but there is more structure and transition and whatnot. Grace has always done really well with babysitters or in the nursery (very little drop-off drama after she got past about 9 months old) and has loved things like the music program we went to in New Haven, library storytime, etc. so I wasn't expecting any big problems. Still, it has been great to see her get so excited about "school". Grace is going two days a week this year; she was there from 9am to noon this week and next week will stay until 2pm.
I have the barest twinge of feeling conflicted about the MDO because Grace is still so young. I think my 6 years of being homeschooled instilled a little skepticism in me about conventional classroom settings not necessarily being the best thing for kids, especially at such early ages. I certainly haven't been sitting around thing, "Well, she's 2 and a half-- time for preschool!" On the other hand, I did really want for Grace to have something like this after the new baby comes so I can have some time to bond, rest, and spend time with just the new little one. A mom I know from church here gave me some names of MDO programs when I was still in Connecticut (which was very kind of her, especially as she had just had her 3rd baby boy, which I didn't know at the time). I called around, mostly expecting to be put on waiting lists (waiting lists! for preschools!) and hoping to get a spot for after New Year's. This particular program had a spot open up, though, so we decided to go for it for this fall. Rob and I don't think it's important for her academically or anything, but it will help me in the spring so we are feeling good about the decision. And maybe it will be good for her to have something that is just for her and stays the same, even after her world gets turned upside down by the arrival of a new sister.
Grace is feeling good about it, too, apparently. If you follow me on Twitter, you've already heard this, but last week we had a meet-the-teacher morning at her MDO. We hung out in her classroom for about an hour and a half as Grace explored the play kitchen and puzzles and looked at the other children. She was unusually apprehensive at first, which was a little surprising; I don't know if maybe I was telegraphing that this was a big deal. She warmed up, though, in her slightly reserved, independent way. And then when it came time to go, she started to get a little upset, not wanting to leave the fantastically fun new place. By the time we got to the car she was crying, and by the time we got home it had escalated into a full-fledged flip-out. She ran around the house, refusing to be held or comforted, crying and mournfully sobbing, "I want to go to school!" Well then. Her first actual day at MDO saw a scaled-down repetition of that response when it came time to be picked up-- a bit of crumpled-up face and reluctance to leave. Fortunately, it was not nearly as dramatic; maybe she's starting to understand that it's going to be a regular thing.
So I've been feeling a little anti-establishment these days, mostly since the establishment here is so, so... establishment-y. "What can I do to feel a little better?" I asked myself. "Hair dye!" I answered. Lots of impact for not too much money or permanency or risk! (There are some who suggest hair dye is to be avoided during pregnancy but mainstream folks like the ACOG and What to Expect... crowd say it is OK after you get out of the first trimester when the baby is most vulnerable.) I used Grace's first morning at MDO to plan and put into action a little hair color. It's been quite a while since I indulged my fondness (or Rob might suggest, addiction) for hair color; my hair has been its natural color for quite an unprecedented length of time. I spent a good chunk of my college years with various shades of red, and have before dabbled into blue and pink. I've never gone full-out by bleaching all my hair and then putting a bright color on it; the upkeep on that is just too daunting. I would have brown roots on my pink hair in two weeks! Anyway, I am enjoying my new pink hair very much, feeling happy whenever I see myself in a mirror, and doing my best to keep it from disappearing too fast. And now my hair looks a lot like Grace's doll.
I am interested to see how it lasts because the girl at the salon put it on in a different way than I have tried before. After bleaching those sections and shampooing, she put the pink dye on, then flat-ironed those sections, and told me to wait at least 24 hours before shampooing again, i.e. the dye (which is supposedly more gentle, ammonia-free, blah blah blah than average) actually sat on my hair for over a solar day. We'll see how long it is before I have to break out the Manic Panic to refresh the color...