Tuesday, October 7, 2014

At 43, I Flunked PreSchool

It's been one long month since I wrote a blog post. I didn't even realize it had been that long until yesterday. Then, I also realized where my month had gone: it had gotten sucked right up into my son's first month of preschool.

A year ago, I researched cooperative preschools and came across a gem! It has been in operation for over thirty years, in a small town where former students now bring their children. After visiting a few times, both on my own and with my son, I was excited! The teacher was kind, knowledgeable, and experienced. My son and I eagerly awaited his first day, and when that day arrived, he dressed for the part:

Officially, I am supposed to sign up for three volunteer days each month. However, this being my son's first experience away from the family, I opted to be there everyday, for as long as he wanted. This lasted all of three days! On the fourth day, my son very gently, but matter-of-factly, said, "Mom, you can go now. And don't come back until the other parents do."

What!?! I was being dismissed?!? What would I do? Where would I go?

I happened to have our dogs that day, so, being close enough to the beach that we could smell the crisp, salty air, I decided to take them for a walk. It was absolutely glorious! I actually got to walk my dogs through the dunes, without having to stop every thirty seconds to tell my son 'hurry up'; all the while they frolicked freely in the water:

On this walk, I devised my plan. After dropping my son off at school, I would indulge in activities that have escaped me since becoming a single mom: reading at the beach, going to a matinee (to watch something I want to watch for a change), sitting at a coffee shop and simply do nothing but sip on my drink. I would have to fit some work time on my computer, but oh, the possibilities :-)

Fast forward to day seven of preschool: I park on the drop-off side where the curb is painted with "20 Minute Parking". From his car seat, my son frantically says, "Mom, you can't park here!"


"Because you have to park on the staying side of the street!"

This was news to me! I pulled forward a bit so I wouldn't be too close to the school's entrance and asked my son why he didn't want me to leave. Turns out, he was unaccustomed to the aggressive play many of the boys in his class displayed, not to mention the screaming tantrums one child was prone to, and he was terrified for me to leave him there alone. Mind you, these are all very nice kids, and I certainly do not mean for this post to be a complaint of other people's children, so I will try to focus on my son.

He is a very mellow, easy-going boy. Our little family consists of me, him, our two dogs, and two fish. While he enjoys wrestling and play-fighting, our versions of these activities are a little more mellow than most. So, the arguments and power-struggles, that I can only assume are a natural part of a preschool class, left him feeling quite anxious.

Three weeks later and I had stayed with my son at his school every single day. I was exhausted! A couple of those days, I managed to wriggle my way out for an hour, tops. Other than that, I was consumed with four year olds!

As our first month of preschool drew near, my son and I made the very difficult decision to not sign up for the month of October. I was heart broken, because I really do love the program and the teacher; but I couldn't continue going to school with him every single day (I'm a working, single mom, and this was taking its toll).

And, I certainly was not going to peel him off of me and let him "get used to it". I know this works for many parents, but I'm just not one of them. I don't know if I made the right decision or not, but I had to make the one that provided the least friction in our lives.

We both cried on his last day of school, as we said goodbye to his classmates and teacher; him because it was his first real experience with loss, and me because, at the age of 43, I had just flunked preschool. What to do now?

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  1. We're new to the preschool world too. This is my daughter's second month (i.e., October) of preschool. While I haven't been at school as much as you were, I long to know what's really going on there. In fact, I'm scheduling a phone convo with her teacher to get the inside scoop.

    Sounds like you made the decision that is best for the two of you right now. If you have a Waldorf school near your home, perhaps that's something that might be a good fit.

  2. Thanks so much for your comment, and the Waldorf suggestion! I will definitely look into that :-) Good luck with your preschool adventures :-)