Childrearing

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)

9 Comments

  1. BeesMom

    August 27, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    I completely understand what you are feeling. For preschool, my son basically sat in Nick’s cubby (sorry Nick!) and cried his eyes out for the first 4 months. The teacher reassured me that his behavior was “normal” whatever that was. For kindergarten he cried and clung to my legs with super strength every time I dropped him off. When my husband would drop him off he would wave and bravely go into the classroom on his own. So I assumed that my dear son wasn’t the problem. I was his problem. I’d ask him why he would cry when I dropped him off but not when his dad did. He’d look at me with tears welling in his big blue eyes and say, “I miss you so much Mommy. My heart hurts when you’re not with me.” Again, this is all my fault right? I should have gone to play groups. I should have let the in-laws babysit him. I should have let him out of my sight for the first 4 ½ years of his life. He doesn’t know how to be without me around. I’ve messed him up for life! My now 6 yr old has started first grade. He cried a tiny bit on the first day of school marching into the classroom with the other kids. I then noticed he wasn’t the only one crying. Yes! Is he “normal”????????? A week into the first grade he takes the bus on his own to and from school. He makes me wait across the street from the bus stop in the morning. “Mom, I’m a big kid now. I can wait by myself.” He wants to walk home from the bus stop after school but I won’t let him. “Mom, wait at the house. I can walk home by myself.” What happened to my crying, clinging, heart hurting because I miss my mommy boy? He disappeared literally overnight. I’m glad that he has found a sense of independence. I’m glad he has found confidence. I guess I really DIDN’T mess him up for life. I must admit when I wave to him bye as the bus pulls away I kind of miss my crying, leg clinging little boy. So long story short. Your daughter will be fine. You will be fine. It may be rough but you both will survive.

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