So it’s kind of time to put my four year old in Pre-School and I am not necessarily loving the idea. She is my last child and the wild child at that. She keeps me on my toes every single day and is constantly entertaining me. I know that it isn’t her role to entertain me, but she does nonetheless. I have been going back and forth in my head about how great it would be to have her in Pre-K during the days so that I could get some writing done in peace, and maybe who knows – even take a bath or use the restroom by myself. I’ve forgotten what that feels like. On the other hand, I remember like it was yesterday when I put my almost fourteen year old in Pre-K and it was the worst day of my life. The beginning of the end. It was like as soon as she strapped on that backpack and walked into the school, she was no longer a baby. It KILLED ME to no end that first year of pre-school, dropping her off each morning and not knowing if the people I was leaving her with would truly treat her right. All of these hypothetical scenarios start flooding your brain of some kind of hostile takeover and you’re not there to protect your child. Or them going on field trip and your child getting kidnapped or the more likely scenario in my child’s case, her running off into the unknown – Never to be seen or heard from again.
My fourteen year old daughter while in pre-school broke her arm after being pushed off a jungle gym by some little boy and the teacher went all day without telling me that my child was crying and in pain in her class after falling. I had no idea that anything had even happened until I picked her up from school and she couldn’t move her arm and was in tears. Of course the teacher felt bad, but her reason for not calling me was because she was concerned about the little boy who pushed my daughter, getting into trouble. I spent all night at an urgent care place to find out her arm was broken and she needed to go to the hospital for further x-rays and casting. As it turned out, her arm was broken just a hair above the growth plate near her elbow and we had to play wait and see, on if her arm would grow normally or stop growing all together — After the cast was finally removed. So yeah, I’m a little gun shy to say the least.
Accidents happen with children, but this four year old of mine is accident prone. A magnet for calamities. She’s also a little too bold and confident in her nature, thus making it that much more inevitable that some kid will wind up pushing her off of a swing set or punching her in the face. Both situations by which this mama will wind up losing my head over, if it happens. I keep picturing what it will be like to drop her off the first day. I imagine I will make uncomfortable, drawn out eye contact with every child in the room, creepily leaning in their face and telling them not to touch my kid. Followed by both my child and myself being kicked out of the school.
On the other side of the coin, I also may get a few hours of freedom during the day to do all of the things I dream about doing. You know, going to the store by myself, cleaning the house without some curly-headed, Tasmanian devil rip-roaring through the house making dirty everything that I have just cleaned, and yes being able to write without interruption. Each time I begin to bask in the glow of possibilities to how I could spend my day, I picture my toddler crying that her Mom is not around and she can’t find her. Truth be told, she probably won’t even realize that I had chosen to leave her with strangers for 8 hours in the day, until I pick her up in the afternoon, but regardless. I IMAGINE she will be devastated because well… She needs me, right? Or maybe I need her. She is my little friend. A friend that doesn’t listen to me, does the opposite of everything that I say and talks back like she’s a teenager who already has life figured out. But she’s cute and so much fun, those few seconds in-between her tyranny.
So I thought maybe I should ask her what SHE THINKS about going to school. Honestly I think I was hoping to dissuade her in some way in my delivery, but that backfired. I asked my four year old, “Would you like to go to school with other kids every day, instead of being home with Mama?” A smile came across her face as she replied, “Yes! Let’s go!!” And started to remove her bathing suit, to change clothes. I told her that there will be a teacher and other children like her there, and her comeback was, “AND BOOKS! There will be lots of books, Mom and I can read all of them!” Here I thought, she would at least think about the fact that she is leaving me alone all day long to fend for myself, and maybe show a little bit of concern for her dear old Mom, but nope. She wants to be with the books. Never mind the fact that she has multitudes of books here in her room, that’s not good enough. She needs more. Pffft.
Of course, I kid…. Sort of. Now I am the one who is feeling the separation anxiety. My kid, she is probably in her room thanking the stars that she will finally be free from me for most of the day. This is hard. Being a parent is hard. In fact, it sucks. When they are finally ready to leave your side, it’s like they’re saying that they don’t need you anymore. Your job is finished and they are moving on to bigger and better things. And yet you look at their tiny faces and listen to their munchkin voice and know that they do still very much need you. And I wonder if she can make it around other children. She has been effectively an only child being that there is such a huge age gap between her and her big sister, who does not live with us full time. Does she know how to share? Will she be nice to the other kids? Is she really ready for this level of social interaction every single day? I love people, but I don’t think I could back to having to spend eight hours a day with a group of them, for five days out of the week anymore. I enjoy my seclusion a little too much. And then something happens like the other day – This four year old of mine was getting in trouble for doing something that she was told not to, which she then turned around and went to the other room, angry. A minute or so into her complaint of how much we ruin her life, she says “It’s not fair! I didn’t do anything wrong!…. Oh wait, yeah I did. It was my fault.” I literally had zero time to tell her how wrong she was in her theory of being blameless, before she realized that she actually had done something wrong and her punishment was valid. With that incident, I think that maybe she really can hack it at school. Maybe she will be the kid that actually enjoys learning and socializing. And maybe her moral compass of knowing right from wrong, will help guide her and keep her out of trouble. On the flip side, I am completely preparing myself to be called into the principal’s office every other day because my child is too much of handful for one teacher to get control over.
All the same, I am staring at the probability of being alone all day while my child is in the hands of people I do not know and it’s scary. Apparently not for her, but for me it is. I’m not quite ready to cut that cord, but I know she has probably been chewing at it for at least a year now with eagerness to see a different face other than mine each day. And I can’t say as I blame her. I’d get sick of me too if I had spent four years day and night with myself as my only loyal companion. If any kid messes with her though, I may not be above punching a toddler, not that I’m advocating violence against children. I’m just saying that there is a possibility that I may not be above it, in which case I will be writing my next blog from a jail cell. I wonder how fast the internet speeds are, in prison…