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Mission: Successful Dry Run

As part of a massive campaign to get
Maddie excited about – heck, just willing to go to –
school, I sent her over to her friend Elise’s house for a bit
of a practice day last week. The result?

I’d have to give it an A plus.

Elise is going to be in the same class as Maddie, and a week ago
her mom called me and suggested a practice lunch time. She
remembered how hard it was for Elise when she first started school
a year ago, and thought that giving Maddie a glimpse into the day
might take some of the mystery – and hence, the fear –
out of the day.

The kids have to be able to completely
unpack their own lunches and be self-sufficient, so this was not an
idle exercise. I’d been shopping up a storm last week buying
things I hoped would excite Maddie about a Lunch Without Mommy
– Look! Matching Tupperware! – and spent the rest of
the week talking it up to her. Most of our lively discussions went
something like this:

“So, kiddo, you’re going over to Elise’s house to
play on Friday, and she’s invited you to bring your lunch and
learn how you eat lunch at school. What do you think? You’ll
get to set up your whole lunch all by yourself.”

“Weeeeeeeeeeell, I’m not sure about that. Will you be

“Um, no, hon, parents aren’t allowed to lunch at school
– it’s kids only! But Elise’s mom will be there
to help you out if you need something.”

Suspiciously: “Well, then, where will you be?”

Evasively: “At home, with Cora.”

“I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that. No, I
think I’d prefer you stay there with me. I have no interest
in eating lunch without you.”

I explained the reality of preschool over and over again, the
epitome of patience, but Maddie wouldn’t budge. If Mommy
wasn’t staying for lunch, neither was she. Finally, in a
last-ditch attempt to move her forward, I bought a video about a
girl’s first day of school, and how nervous she was. I
promised Maddie she could take it and watch it with Elise after

The luminescent glow of television worked, and Maddie agreed with a
modicum of grace.

Friday morning I packed Maddie’s lunch bag with the precision
of a surgeon, painstakingly reviewing each step with Maddie and
making sure she could handle it. My kid spotted the highly-prized
and almost-never-bought Pringles in there, and immediately wanted
lunch on the spot. But I held firm.

I was not there, obviously, for the playdate, but when I went to
pick her up three hours later, the first thing Maddie said to me
was, “I don’t WANT to go home!” And then burst
into tears.

So I’m assuming it went well.

I got the inside scoop from Elise’s mom, and hear the girls
had a fantastic time. Elise demonstrated how to put your lunch bag
under your chair as you eat, and Maddie quickly caught on
(that’s my girl!). After they’d gotten down to the
business of eating, rumor has it Maddie leaned in conspiratorially
and said, “I know pretty much everything about school. Tell
me what else there is to it.”

And Elise charmingly obliged, filling Maddie in on a blow-by-blow
account of a day in preschool. Maddie listened, entranced, to the
tales of story time and music time and playground time and even nap
time, and apparently Elise is quite the tale spinner because when
she’d finished Maddie breathed, “I think I’m
going to like school.”

Mission accomplished.


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