I like the idea of preschool. I sent Jessie to Bright Start Academy, and she liked it. She brought home art projects (I was terribly disappointed when she started kindergarten and those wicked cute little hangable things stopped coming home with any frequency). Jessie was easier overall, when it comes to going off to school. I remember kindergarten was hard, especially because there was a wicked ice storm that year, and she had most of the month of December off. The school made up the missed time by extending the school day in the spring. In retrospect, I should have just pulled her out of school early, because she’d come home from school every afternoon and sob, just out of sheer exhaustion.
But except for that, she liked school. She got a little misty at drop off occasionally, but it was (and I hate to use this word) normal about it.
Sam, God bless him, was hell on wheels when it came to preschool. He was younger than Jessie was, because he’s a July birthday instead of February, and boys mature slower than girls. All those justifications I have – but the reality was just that he really, really struggled with preschool and kindergarten and my experiences with him completely color the way I’m approaching the thought of Julianna going to preschool.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m doing all the right things. I signed her up right away, and even bought her a backpack. Learned her teachers’ names so that I could talk up how much fun she’s going to have in the Orange room with Miss Liliya and Miss Jessica. I have the books on going to school, Llama Llama Misses Mama, Sammy Spider’s First Day of School, and have added them into the rotation.
I’m doing my very conscious best to not put my baggage from sending her brother onto her.
She’s more social in a lot of ways. Of the three, she talks easier to grown ups, and is more confident and secure. But she’s shy, so shy, and she loves her mama, and I’m afraid that she’ll hate it. Not all the time, most of the time, I’m able to put a glossy spin on it – oh, it’ll be GREAT for her. She’s have so much fun, and learn so much. And most importantly, everything else will be easier for her if I introduce her slowly to school.
But I keep flashing back to Sam at preschool. When they had to drag him down the hall to class, and he was so little and so scared. And kindergarten – there are moments from motherhood that I’d love to forget, and Mrs. Gravel dragging my baby boy off of me and hearing him scream and beg and sob on that first day is one that I know I’ll always carry around with me. Stuffed down, I don’t focus on it.
But the fact that starting school for Sam was so traumatic, for both of us, is obviously a part of the story of Julianna starting school. In the same way that Jessie’s experiences color his, his and Jessie’s factor into how I feel about Julie’s. And at the heart of it, I hate sending my kids away. I hate the thought of them being ALONE, without anyone who loves them there to make sure everything is okay. It’s just a part of me, there’s another part that believes that kids need independence, and that they can only learn that if I step back. That confidence comes from proving yourself, and if I don’t ever give them a chance, they won’t feel it. Even my Sam, who hates going to school with every fiber of his being, likes actually being there. Once he learned to get over the fear and anxiety, he loves it.
And Julie won’t be as scared as Boy was. Sam never wanted to go, Julie already does. Julie forms relationships faster and talks to adults easier than either of the other two did at her age.
She’ll be great.