I can’t really say it’s “Back to School” for us, since this will be my two-year-old’s first time in any kind of school program come August. She will begin a Mother’s Day Out program, half-days, 2 or 3 times per week. It’s more like, “To School.” To…what I hope is a wonderful new experience not only for her, but for our whole family. To…a chance for her to be in a new environment and learn a little bit about the world outside our home. To…yes, a little time for mama to get some things done sans little one for a few hours.
To…what I am almost utterly and completely dreading.
My daughter is a very social, friendly child. She rarely meets a stranger. In fact, she often forces her less social mother to literally meet countless strangers because she inserts herself into the activities of other nearby kids whom we do not (yet) have the pleasure of knowing. She gives great hugs, and doesn’t seem to notice when the often introverted child needs his space until the poor kid wails…”But he’s my best friend!!” she says (we’re working on being sensitive to others kids’ feelings and reading body language…what can I say, she’s a lover). I adore her outgoing personality traits, and I hope they remain with her as she matures. A demeanor like hers should naturally thrive in a school setting, and many of my mama friends have assured me she’ll do very well.
So what’s the problem? I hope there is none, but I find the fears creeping up inside me as we get closer to the day. You see, my daughter, although very friendly, is also very attached to her mommy – Kung Fu Grip style. What can I say, I’m delightful. She is very confident, provided I am within eyesight. Which I think is a smart instinct especially when in an unfamiliar place, but it can create anxiety when we do have to be separated, for both of us. She still gets upset when we drop her off at Sunday School, a place with which she is very familiar…I can only imagine (and I do imagine) what awaits us the first days, weeks, months of my leaving her in a place she has NEVER been to with people she does NOT know. I imagine that little reddened face, tears streaming down and fraught with fears for three full hours. Will the teachers be sweet and understanding, or will they behave like these? It’s enough to make me not send her at all.
But that would be quitting before we even begin, and that’s not my style. I honestly believe that enrolling kids in early learning programs greatly benefits them for many reasons, gradually increasing their school time up until it’s time to go to school all day either when they’re enrolled in preschool at 4 years of age or at kindergarten (we are planning on her being a full-timer at preschool). But admittedly, this will be a major transition, not only for my daughter, but for her mother. When you’re together for literally 24 hours every day (we’re co-sleepers), even a 3-hour separation a couple days a week can be hard to fathom. But with our second baby due in November, I’m hoping by then she’ll be well adjusted in her class so that I can have a few hours a week adjusting with our newest family member….please dear Lord.
I’m not so naive as to think that on her first day she’ll skip off to class as she gleefully waves goodbye, shiny red apple in hand. I admit that would be amazing, but it’s an unfair expectation. The transition will take time. But as much as I see the benefit of sending her to a program, she technically doesn’t have to go – I’m at home and we do a lot of learning and activity right here. If she’s still hyperventilating three or four months from now when I drop her off at school, it will be really hard for me to make the justification to keep sending her. I may need a pep talk, Ladies, and a whole lotta grace. To be continued…