It’s Starting Already: My Pre-Schooler Is Embarrassed By Me

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It’s happened. I thought I had a decade before I had to start worrying about this awful bit of motherhood, but somehow I’ve been cursed. At four years old, my daughter recently asked me, “Mom, can you just drop me off at school? Don’t come in, okay?”

We’re not talking about walking her to her locker in high school. All year long, I’ve been walking my little girl to her class at pre-school. I get a chance to say good morning to her teacher. Sometimes I get a hug before I leave my daughter cutting the outline of a star or painting a picture of a sailboat. It’s a habit that I hadn’t even questioned.

Then, I was discussing the end of the year with my little girl. I was explaining about summer vacation and saying good bye to her truly amazing teacher that we’ve adored all year long. I wanted Brenna to be prepared for the fact that we wouldn’t be seeing this teacher twice a week over the summer. But my daughter wasn’t very concerned with summer break, she had one request. “Can you just drop me off at the door, Mom?”

Honestly, I keep hearing those words over and over again in my head. They made my heart freeze up in my chest for a moment. I realize it sounds (and probably is) a little over-dramatic, but wasn’t I supposed to have more time before my little girl got embarrassed by my presence?

My husband is busy convincing me that it’s not really about me. It’s not that my daughter doesn’t want to be seen with me. At least not yet, though that’s sure to come. He claims that the issue here is my little girl wanting to prove how mature she is. Truthfully, we have an independent child on our hands. I’m sure walking into that building by herself feels like a very grown-up move. Is her request really just another iteration of choosing her own outfit and brushing her teeth without anyone’s help? Because we’ve been dealing with these little acts of individuality for a couple years now.

It’s a rational explanation, and it’s probably the most accurate. But I’m not sure that it makes me feel any better. My four-year-old child is still ready to brush off my assistance or even presence. That’s a hard moment for a mom to swallow! In her world, having your mother around is infantilizing. Already, she wants to keep me away so that she can assert herself.

I realize that there’s plenty to be proud of here. I have a strong-minded and fearless little girl who enjoys being independent. Really, it’s a feminist mother’s dream. And I am proud and happy that she’s so ready to go out in the world alone.

But I would be a complete liar if I didn’t admit that it’s a little terrifying and possibly upsetting as well. I want to be able to support her. I want to be there to watch her in her grown-up glory. And I want to protect her when the world, or even pre-school, is a little scarier than she expected it to be.

I haven’t decided just yet if I’ll actually drop her off at the door. I might. Or I might tell her that this little bit of independence can wait til next year when she arrives to school on the bus and won’t have to worry about her mother holding her hand in the parking lot.

Actually, now that I think about holding her hand as we cross the parking lot, maybe it has nothing to do with independence or maturity. Perhaps my pre-schooler really is embarrassed of me. In which case, she had better watch out for the tween years because they’re about to be horrendous!

(Photo: Almighty Dad)