When the Kids Love Preschool More Than You by Melissa Swedoski
Monday was the official start of school here in Texas. Since the babysitter we had employed was returning to college, we made the big decision to send the girls to preschool. Well, sort of. After looking at several “institutional” sites and several “in-home” places, we opted to go with an in-home site. Our 2 1/2 year old is plenty ready to strike out on her own in the big, bad world, but the 15 month old is still a little wobbly on her feet. We decided it was better to keep them together a little longer before taking a different route.
We found a lovely wife and husband couple thanks to a tip from the local Montessori school. They keep 10 kids in their daycare, and the day is filled with playtime, learning time, music time, resting and eating. Pretty much a great day for a preschooler. Heck, that would be a pretty good day for me.
We tested the waters with visit on a Saturday, so we didn’t interrupt their normal day, but the girls and mom and dad could see the lay of the land. It went well, even if they did take every single toy out of the numerous toy boxes. And then ride every single toy that was outside in the play area. But they loved Nana and Joe, and my husband and I agreed it would be a good fit.
Over the weekend, I spent as much time with the girls as possible, because I knew it was going to be hard. If nothing else, this family hasn’t been on a very rigid schedule in a while, and just getting up, dressed and out the door by the same time each day was going to be a challenge.
Monday morning dawns, with both babies in our bed. The little one had a bad dream, and the older one woke up at 6:20 a.m. and decided to share the joy of the day with me. Fooled her! I went ahead and got up and got dressed, then got the rest up and dressed. We were only 5 minutes off our goal time. Not bad.
Did I mention that it was the first day of school? Um, yeah. We drove through four school zones – a junior high, a high school and two elementary schools – on our way, as well as the university in town. Why yes, that was fun. My husband, who deemed the day important enough for all family members to attend, nearly lost it on the drive over. I think he considered ramming a couple of cars on the way, so I just started looking out the side window instead of the front.
We arrived and as suspected, the oldest one dove right in, introducing herself around and picking out a doll to claim as her own. The younger one held tight to my leg, never letting me get too far away. I was happy and sad all at once. Happy that one was brave and strong and confident, and sad that one didn’t want me to go, and yet I was going to anyway. She’s my baby, the last one. I still want all the time with her I can get.
As her bottom lip began to tremble, Nana scooped her up and out of sight. And I cried. Not a lot, but enough. We tried going to Waffle House for some smothered and covered comfort food, but apparently that’s where all the parents go on the first day of school. There was not one vacant spot. I opted to go home and take a nap, because I couldn’t stand the silence.
When we returned that afternoon, the youngest one ran for me, and the older one called my name and smiled. But….they didn’t want to leave. At all. There were a lot of tears shed, as we explained they would come back tomorrow, but that wasn’t really enough. And so, I used the one parenting tactic that never fails for me: bribery. It was a good compromise.