My Daughter Is Starting Preschool And I’m More Freaked Out Than She Is

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My daughter is sitting next to me as I type this. She’s singing while she draws on her snack bag, ostensibly purchased for use at preschool, though I know she won’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 she’s not perfect, but she seems so damn close to me.

However, I’m not so delirious with mother love that I don’t believe she’ll transform into a writhing, screaming, freakishly strong toddler-stranger when I try to bring her to preschool next week. I’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 she’s worth when I try to take her back to that awful place a second time. There’s no doubt about it: she’s scared. But I’m even more afraid.

I firmly believe I’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. We’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 “all my friends will be there.” Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure she thinks I’ll be there, too.

Which is where my fear comes in. I’m afraid that she’ll feel abandoned when I leave her with strangers; that she won’t want to play with the other kids; that we’ll discover an entirely different personality that only comes out when she’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 can’t help wondering if there’s more I should have done to get her ready for what’s about to happen. I should have worked harder to find a few more babysitters so that she’d be accustomed to “strange” adults. Perhaps we should have participated in organized playgroups, even though they seem entirely forced and against my nature. What’s my daughter’s nature? Is it already determined, and if it’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? I’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, “Gosh, did they ever let this child out of the house?” but instead will unconsciously marvel at what a fine parenting job we must be doing to produce such a cool little kid. She’s good at sharing, incredibly creative and could dance that Beyonce baby under the table. We’re all going to be just fine.

Shit. But what I should I bring when it’s my week to provide the class snack…?

(Photo: Jupiterimages)