With my 2 daughters rounding age 3, they are now “preschoolers.” This fall, they transitioned from a nanny’s care to a well-regarded preschool/daycare near my home. I was pretty excited by many good things about the school – the academic focus, the extracurriculars, etc., etc., all at a reasonable price. So far so good.
I am not a “young” mom, and I have a fair amount of previous experience with kids. Yet raising my girls has brought plenty of challenges and even a couple of surprises. The beginning of “school” has brought both.
First, the frustrating gap between what I see in my kids and what the school sees. My kids’ first progress report says, for example, that neither of my kids is able to jump, kick, throw, etc. It says my youngest cannot run, and that my oldest doesn’t speak in sentences and doesn’t know big from little. Folks, I’m not one to exaggerate about my kids, but honest, they are mobile! They have basic vocabulary! I don’t fault the teachers – obviously my kids are holding back at school – but I feel protective. I don’t want people thinking they are less capable, especially if that could impact educational decisions. Ya know?
Second, the business practices of the school. They make up the rules as they go – and you had better have ESP, because the only time they tell you the “rules” is after you’ve broken them. You paid for the whole week, but you weren’t signed in by 9am (because you met us offsite for the field trip)? Then your kids aren’t allowed into the building for the rest of the day. What? I never would have agreed to that! How can you do that? We just did it, that’s how.
Third, the “bad” reports. Reports about my perfect children! Imagine! On Tuesday morning after saying goodbye to my kids, I’m told that on Monday, “someone” was “trying to do something” to my eldest, and she “tried to bite” that unnamed individual. Now, my kids are not biters, but you know they get all kinds of new ideas at school, so who knows? But “tried to bite”? In retaliation for “something”? “Yesterday”? What am I supposed to do about this? Why are you even telling me this?*
And finally on Tuesday evening, the ominous handwritten note. “Younger daughter is refusing to practice the Christmas songs.” Again, what do you want me to do about this? Beat her? Come to the school and force her to act out the motions? Send her to bed without supper unless and until she sings the Santa Song?? Would it be too evil to admit that I don’t CARE if my child sings in the Christmas program?
Never mind the constant germs, lice alerts, lost hair accessories, unauthorized candy distribution, and other minor details that I expected to encounter along our daycare journey.
After my first parent-teacher conference, I felt so defensive on my kids’ behalf, and so crappy in general, and I wondered how my mom lived through this with her six kids. Now, a few weeks later, I’m getting resigned to the fact that parenting a “school” child is just going to be like this. I will do my best to grin and bear it. It does help that so many other moms have been quick to commiserate with me.
Experienced moms, do you have any brilliant tips for my future adventures with “school”?