It was the student teacher's last day today and they were planning a little party. I was providing the special cupcakes(ones Riley can eat), so I drove her to school. Seth was home from preschool with a fever, so I dragged him along in his P.J.'s to drop off the girl and her goodies. Unbeknownst to us, today was also The Cat in the Hat's birthday and the school was celebrating. Upon entering the building, the entire office staff had cat faces painted on.
Riley has a very hard time with animated facial expressions. The sight of all the grown-ups she knows with their faces painted freaked her out. She started to escalate as we walked to her class and by the time we got inside she was panicked. The longer I stayed to try to calm her, the more upset she got anticipating my leaving. Her teacher picked her up and began trying to soothe her in the rocking chair. I knew her teacher (whom she loves and trusts) could handle it. Seth and I walked hand in hand down the long hallway and out of the building, closing the door on her screams behind us.
Something was different today though. I wasn't a wreck. I can't explain exactly how I came home and went about my day without worrying, but I did. Would my worrying make it any easier for Riley? Was this an opportunity for her to get through a crises without me?
This afternoon I parked in front of the school as usual. Riley hid behind the student teacher as they walked toward the van. As they got up close, a kitten stepped out from behind the student teacher. She had on Riley's pink coat, and Riley's hair, but she was all cat.
Riley got her face painted today for the first time in her life.
She wound up having a good time.
She was beaming.
So am I.