The first time I dropped Sam and Nate off at Pebbles Preschool was one of the hardest days of my life. Up until that day, they had been home with Gina and I all the time, and the only time we left them with other people was at Sunday School or with the occasional babysitter. In addition to the anxiety associated with leaving them at school and driving 30 miles to Denton for work, I had no idea how the day would go for them. Gina and I spent most of our time and energy making sure the boys stayed on a schedule and did things that were good for them: eating healthy meals and snacks, taking naps, and playing nicely with each other, guiding and redirecting their behavior. Now, for the first time, those things were in someone else's hands. Would either of them eat the lunch we made for them? Would they take a nap? How would they interact with the other children? Would they obey their teachers? For me, it wasn't so much the fact that we were dropping them off for a whole 5 hours with someone else; it was more an issue of not knowing how they would behave in a school environment.
Gina was also reluctant to leave the boys at preschool, and in addition to feeling as I did about not knowing how they would do, she was grieving the fact that she would miss so many of the things they did during the day. She had spent the last year at home with them full time while I spent most of my days at work. This added a whole new layer of doubt and fear for her.
The day got off to a blistering start when Nate threw a fit as I tried to leave. I had a pretty good feeling he would do this because he did it almost every week in Sunday School. Still, it was hard leaving him not knowing how soon he would calm down. I hesitantly left for work and planned to call to check on him when I got there. Well, I forgot to call when I got to work, and the next thing I knew I was leaving to pick the boys up in the afternoon. Much to my surprise, both Sam and Nate were asleep when I got there. I was convinced they would not sleep at all, yet I found myself having a hard time waking them up.
The next day at school was a total repeat of the first day, and the seed of a thought came to me: Will Nate do this every day at school? The answer soon turned out to be No because the next day at school he went in just fine. This time Sam threw a fit, as well as the next day. This was quite a shock because he had never done this before.
Thankfully, things settled down after those two incidents, and the next two years were filled with everyday tasks (making lunches), special events (field day, holiday programs, parties) and daily updates about the other children in the class. We also got to see how both boys were learning and growing during this time, going from barely-verbal little toddlers to pre-reading preschoolers in just two short years.
As our life circumstances changed, we decided it was in our best interest to move closer to TCU and put the boys in a new school closer to home. This also meant our last day at Pebbles would be very soon. As it turned out, the last day of school was also the day of their spring program (you can watch the 10-minute program here). The boys got to show off some of the things they have learned, and we followed it up with cookies, juice and time with friends. At last, we had to say good-bye to everyone, and unlike our entrance into Pebbles, the boys were not the ones crying.
Our family has experienced so much change in the past four years, even I have a hard time believing our resiliency. Nearly every year since the boys were born has brought something new into our lives, whether it was a move across the country or a new job. Change is the one thing we could count on. During this time, Pebbles has been a rock for us (get it ... Pebbles ... rock ... sorry). As Gina and I dealt with new jobs, expectations, commuting and all of the other things that come along with working, we knew Sam and Nate were safe and happy with their teachers and friends at Pebbles. They learned so many new things, and more than that, they grew up during this time. Yes, they are taller, heavier and know more words, but they also know how to share, wait their turn and be polite to others. OK, we still have a way to go, but the change in the past two years has been quite dramatic. We will always be grateful that God put Pebbles in our path during this time of enormous change and uncertainty, and we hope to run into some of the folks from the school again. I know they will continue to make a profound impact on the lives of children because that is what they did for Sam and Nate. Thank you, Pebbles.