Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Break My Heart

This parenting thing is going to break my heart.

Turns out that second-day preschool jitters are actually worst than first-day. And despite seeming fairly happy when she came home, chattering about Brownie the gerbil and trying on the dress-up high-heeled shoes, Julia talked all day--right up until bedtime--about how she really, really doesn't want to "have any more times at preschool." No more preschool, Mama. Because I will be lonely. And nervous. And worried.

Tonight, she even started to cry.

When did she even learn what lonely means?

When I ask her who she played with at school, she says, "I just played by myself."

I don't need to hear how this is just the second day, and how it will take time, and how it's an adjustment, and how she'll make friends and get used to it and love school in the end. Or how all children have to experience obstacles and fear in order to learn how to live in the world and trust their inner strength. I'm a psychologist and I know all that. Bottom line: it doesn't make it any less sad.

I don't want to be the hyper overprotective mom who bothers the teachers. But is anyone, I don't know, checking on her during the morning? She's the quiet, easily-intimidated rule-follower over in the corner, sweetly reading books to herself and not causing any trouble; does anyone even notice her? I'm sure they do, but how would I know? Preschool pick-up is like Applebee's Carside-To-Go; your kid is walked to your vehicle and deposited in her carseat quick as can be, with a line of other moms behind you in the queue. You don't get much of a how-did-the-day-go report. Do they know this is the child they need to look full in the face and check for wet eyes? Take her hand and invite her over to the science table to play with Owen or Mia? Because if you let her, she'll just sit with her books the entire time, keeping herself from crying by doing what she does best. And then she'll come home and tell me in her little voice that she's lonely, Mama.


Heidi said...

I TOTALLY believe in "bothering" the teachers; I communicate w/ Logan's teachers (even now, in mid-grade-school) at *least* a couple times a month, by phone or email. And if they are *good* teachers, they will be GLAD for the communication from home, and the insights shared about how they can best work w/ your child. You must have a ph # and/or email address for J's main teacher, don't you? You are her advocate. Don't *hesitate* to call and ask how things are going, express your suggestions for getting her involved, say that all you know about J's mornings there is what she tells you and it sounds lonely and sad, so you'd like to hear about it from the teacher's perspective. I wouldn't skip a heartbeat before doing that. OR, is it *possible* to arrange ahead of time that you will park the car and come in (slightly later than the other pick-ups, maybe) to meet J. at her classroom, just once, so (you tell the teacher) J. can show you and talk w/ you about her new environment and you can help her see it in a happy light?

If it weren't for your admonition, I'm sure Mom would recount to you how *I* CRIED...not the *first* day of first grade, but the *second*...... or was it even like the third, or into the second *week*???

Mom said...

I came here to write pretty much exactly what Heidi has already written: You are Julia's advocate and you have every right (and yes, responsibility) to check with the teachers about what goes on when you leave, how long she is sad, whether she is integrated into the group...all the answers you need. And to get their suggestions and offer your own for what will help her adjust most quickly. I do recall Heidi's 1st grade tears and fears, and Lael's overwhelming shyness at nursery school, so much so that I had to stay a couple days, first in the back of the room and then outside in the hall! Just so she knew I was there until she felt ok about staying on her own. You, Shannon, were so ready and so anxious to be "in school just like Heidi" that I do not recall your being one bit apprehensive. But then I might have forgotten!! Just do what you have to do. Christopher may have to take a morning off from work to stay with Genna so you can spend time there with Julia if the teachers think it wise. (They probably won't.) But you surely need and deserve their answers to your questions and concerns.

Elise said...

Oh, you poor thing! And poor J! You're right, that is completely heartbreaking. I'm sure there are some people who've never had a moment of feeling out of place and uncomfortable like that, but I bet they're not very interesting people to know. I remember feeling like that EXTREMELY clearly (though for me it was more in high school than in preschool). One thing to keep in mind: it's likely that Julia won't even remember this when she gets older. I know I have only very hazy memories of nursery school, and I didn't start until I was a year older than J. And I echo the advice above. It's not like you're calling every hour to check in on her. There's a big difference between giving the teachers valuable information about how to help J adjust quickly and be happy and being a mommypest. Hope it gets better soon! I know it will.

Grandpa Jim said...

Tell Julia that Grandpa needs some new stuff for his "Julia Wall". I would hope that they have artsy things the kids will do there!