My Daughter Is Starting Preschool And I’m More Freaked Out Than She Is
My daughter is sitting next to me as I type this. Sheâ€™s singing while she draws on her snack bag, ostensibly purchased for use at preschool, though I know she wonâ€™t actually need it. She is sweet and adorable, with giant brown eyes, tiny little baby teeth and a most expressive little mouth. Every movement of hers seems deliberate and new, every decision and word blows my mind. I know, intellectually, that sheâ€™s not perfect, but she seems so damn close to me.
However, Iâ€™m not so delirious with mother love that I donâ€™t believe sheâ€™ll transform into a writhing, screaming, freakishly strong toddler-stranger when I try to bring her to preschool next week. Iâ€™ve been kept awake at night lately with visions of my little girl sobbing as I walk away from her classroom, sitting in a corner all alone during playtime and fighting me with all sheâ€™s worth when I try to take her back to that awful place a second time. Thereâ€™s no doubt about it: sheâ€™s scared. But Iâ€™m even more afraid.
I firmly believe Iâ€™ve taken most of the right steps in preparing our daughter for this impending change. My husband and I visited the school with her last spring and she loved it. Weâ€™ve reminded her of the water table, the dozens of puzzles and the super-cool playground on an almost daily basis. She talks about meeting her teacher and is excited that â€œall my friends will be there.â€ Unfortunately, Iâ€™m pretty sure she thinks Iâ€™ll be there, too.
Which is where my fear comes in. Iâ€™m afraid that sheâ€™ll feel abandoned when I leave her with strangers; that she wonâ€™t want to play with the other kids; that weâ€™ll discover an entirely different personality that only comes out when sheâ€™s away from home and feeling utterly deserted by her parents. (Can you tell we skipped the whole daycare thing?)
Of course I know that even if she does feel all of those things, they will be good for her on some important psychological development level. But I canâ€™t help wondering if thereâ€™s more I should have done to get her ready for whatâ€™s about to happen. I should have worked harder to find a few more babysitters so that sheâ€™d be accustomed to â€œstrangeâ€ adults. Perhaps we should have participated in organized playgroups, even though they seem entirely forced and against my nature. Whatâ€™s my daughterâ€™s nature? Is it already determined, and if itâ€™s one that is anti-preschool, is that somehow my fault? I can feel my hair turning gray, and this is just the very beginning of a lifetime of second guesses.
So guess what? Iâ€™m letting go of all of it right now. Done. I am who I am, and my daughter is an incredible little girl with adaptability skills that have yet to be tested but will no doubt shine through when called upon. Her teacher will not wonder, â€œGosh, did they ever let this child out of the house?â€ but instead will unconsciously marvel at what a fine parenting job we must be doing to produce such a cool little kid. Sheâ€™s good at sharing, incredibly creative and could dance that Beyonce baby under the table. Weâ€™re all going to be just fine.
Shit. But what I should I bring when itâ€™s my week to provide the class snackâ€¦?