It’s no big secret that my daughter hasn’t exactly been the easiest baby in the world to raise. I will precursor with that I know I am extraordinarily blessed to have a healthy, happy, busy baby, and I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world. With that being said, however, since she is almost twenty-months-old and has never slept through the night, it would be a lie if I said that I wasn’t flailing at times. I have done all the things that exhausted parents do: refrigerated items in the pantry, pantry items in the refrigerator, forgetting about laundry, messing up dates, etc. So when my daughter dropped her PM nap as well, I found myself grasping at straws.
This is another one of those areas that everyone has an opinion, and several of those opinions included: scheduling play dates, swim lessons, dance lessons, gymnastics, and most commonly among my friends out here: preschool. BC (before children, when I would judge how other parents parented their children), I never would have even thought about sending my future child/ren to preschool at such a young age. I never went to preschool, and, possibly as a result, I was so attached to my mother that my second grade teacher once yelled at her to just leave when I was screaming for her. Yup, I said second grade. Apparently apples really don’t fall far from the trees.
My husband, seeing how haggard and emotionally and physically worn down I was, was all about preschool. He thought it would be the answer to any problem we might have: she would have friends, she would be so tired she would take a nap, AND maybe, just maybe she would sleep through the night! Ahhh…this idea of preschool began to spin into motion: teachers singing and dancing with the kids, Charlotte happily playing babies with her new little friends, eating cut up fruit at snack time, and then gleefully running into my arms when I went to pick her up.
When we went to the open house, Charlotte was the only one there at the time. She was thrilled to see her future teachers, play with a whole bunch of “new” toys, and smiled ear-to-ear as we ran around on the pint-sized playground outside.
That dream of preschool was shattered almost instantaneously on the first day. I walked her to her classroom, singing a song I heard on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood that goes something like, “When we do something new, let’s talk about what we’ll do…” and then I would explain to her that she would get to play and have tons of fun. I knew three of the other (six) moms and their children, so I felt pretty confident that this was going to go well.
When I went back to pick her up, one of the teachers was holding her, and her face was all (what I call) hived out. Charlotte has extremely sensitive skin, and when she cries, her face breaks out into this crazy splotch hives right away. Her puffy eyes showed me that she did not enjoy preschool, or being away from mommy, that day. I spoke with the teachers, the center director, and my friends, all of whom told me that it can take a month for them to like it, so I committed to a month.
The one thing that I knew she loved was the outside time. The last day of the month, I went to pick her up and her class was outside. All the children were playing and running happily around, except for mine. One of the teachers was holding her, and she was still screaming and crying. The teacher, understandably, had to put her down to go help another child, and Charlotte face-planted into the wood chips, crying so hard she could barely breathe. My heart shattered into a million pieces and I immediately felt like the worst mother in the world. Not only was she not at all happy, but she wasn’t interacting with the children, she wasn’t playing with the toys, she was crying and (probably) thought that I had been abandoning her for a month. I ran to get her and had a talk with her teacher. Before I had even picked her up I had already decided that this experiment was a failed one, and over. I told my husband (who was gone on a training exercise) and he seemed disappointed, but understood.
Once word got out that I had pulled her from preschool, again everyone began offering up their opinions, and I really did appreciate their thoughts, but I (would like to) believe that they would have all reacted the same way that I did. I know that pulling her out was what was right for her, and right for our family. I love the school, and the teachers, so we will try again next year, but I will do the same thing: one month and if she still hates it, she won’t go.
What are your thoughts on preschool at such a young age? I think it all depends on the child: some are ready, some can emotionally handle it, but others can not. Would you have done things differently if you were me?