Wednesday, September 11, 2013

First Day of School

Well, that day I was dreading--it finally came. 

There hasn't been as much dread as I feared, but there has been some.  I haven't questioned whether it's the right decision, but I have been concerned about Willow's happiness--while preschool is a good thing for her to get used to, it's hard for me to toss her into something I'm not sure she'll like very much.
I coped with that by talking about it a lot and trying to seem enthusiastic.  She picks up on my emotions pretty easily, so I tried to fake some positive ones, including excitement over watching her pick out a backpack and a lunch box and a first-day-of-school dress.  It worked...okay.  She liked the dress.  But then as we were heading out the door she asked if she could be an owl instead.

Now, my daughter totally has the potential to be one of those kids who wears a spiderman costume (or, in her case, a barred owl costume) every day to help herself get through a difficult situation.  And I get that, and I'm fine with it.

But I didn't want to just give in right away.  So I said no, you're wearing your special dress that you picked out just for today, let's stick with that.

She cried a little.  She sat down on the steps and refused to put her shoes on.  I hugged her and told her it was going to be okay, that school was going to be fun, and that she was going to be just fine.   She didn't believe me at first, but a little more hugging and a little distraction got her out the door, and soon enough she was smiling.

True to form, she had her little freakout in private, at home, where no one could see her.  When we got to school, she turned her back to us almost immediately, and went off to play.  We got our perfunctory kisses goodbye, and left.

Did the rest of the day go so smoothly?  Of course not.  When I went to pick her up, her teacher told me that there had been some problems listening and many problems doing all the things that the group was expected to do--which surprises no one.  Willow told me that she had particular trouble at nap-time, and asked to go home, and was told that she couldn't, and that she needed to lie down and rest.  I can imagine how well that went over.

I am...cautiously relieved.  Mostly.  I don't think anything would have made me happy about this day except perhaps unreserved joy "school is the best thing ever!" on Willow's part (and probably not even then, because I would be all "Whaat?  You don't want to be with meeeeeee???")  But still, no crying, no tantrums, no absolute refusal to go ever again--these were all serious possibilities, and they didn't happen. 

It's just...I know that once you reach a certain age, hardly anybody likes school.  I certainly didn't.  But preschool, kindergarten--those are supposed to be fun.  When I asked Willow--when all of us asked Willow--what her favorite part of school was, she had no answer.  And I know it's only the first day, and I know things will likely get better, and I know it's really really important for her to learn how to listen to authority figures, and operate under a rigid structure, and interact well with her peers and all of these things.  I know all that.  And she'll get all that.

It just would have been nice, yesterday, if I thought she'd really liked it.


Gina said...

You are so in tune with Willow and her needs/wants/desires, that I am sure you picked the time that was right for her. When my (now adult) son was about Willow's age, he wanted so badly to go to school. He was ready; I was ready; his dad - not so much. That pattern continued through to college and my son's first adult job - both 300 miles from dad's home. My son and I are fine, and someday his dad will catch on.

mrsrobinson said...

So tricky isn't it? Sure Willow will be skipping into pre-school soon!

Laura said...

I think I've told you this, but Parker cried every single time I brought her to Montessori from August until April. Then on her last day in May, she cried because she didn't want to leave. Looking back, she has only fond memories. I felt a punch in my gut every day for months, but she doesn't even remember crying.

Nikki Van De Car said...

That is BRUTAL! And encouraging too...I guess.

Brent said...

Thankks for sharing this