“Am I going to school today?”
Almost each day opens with this simple phrase. In the voice is strength and curiosity. A firm belief that this is the only question that needs to be answered at the moment it leaves a 2 ½ year old girl’s puffy lips. But the eyes hold a strange combination of hope and fear; hope that the answer will be “No” so relief can settle in for another day…or at least the moment.
Fear that the answer just may be “Yes,” that this may be the day where she is forced to leave her family behind and venture out to other’s unknown in an unfamiliar setting, without comfort, support and friendship of siblings, parents or friends….
Only she hasn’t attended preschool for over a month, maybe even 7 weeks, and this conversation is not reserved only for first thing in the morning. Conversations about school continue throughout the day, almost every day. When we discuss that there will be a time where she’ll go to school, the contortion starts. The puffy lips immediately are stretched into a deep frown, the nose is scrunched, eyes immediately red, tearing, pleading. Her voice releases a panicked cry and her body even hunkers into a more protective ball of tiny flesh and bones.
School’s not supposed to be this way. School is supposed to be fun, enlightening, educational, friendly, an adventure to be looked forward to. Sure there’s an adjustment, sure there may be some anxiety…but these things disappear after a few days or weeks of consistency of schedule, reassurance and support. Hers hasn’t.
Sometimes being a very smart 2 ½ year old, who potty trained herself before she was 2, who has the language (not to mention height) of a four year old, who has curiosity, love of education, and continually soaks everything in…sometimes that’s not enough.
I thought she was so smart that she was ready for school; and she is…that smart. I was thinking that there are so many children who can’t have a parent home with them and have started these adventures early in life, so she could too. But I missed some other key things.
I didn’t think about her emotionally. I didn’t take into account that she’s young, that she is (selectively) shy, certainly about new things. I didn’t listen to little statements she’ll make about the certainty of where we are when we’re separated, the need for reassurance that we’ll return. I didn’t listen to her.
But now I am.
The excitement I had for her new adventure this summer and fall, and a little more freedom for us both has been replaced. It’s a new excitement, a new brightness on the horizon which now comes as looking forward to prolonging the time we get to spend together. I get to teach my daughter (with what little ability I may have to actually “teach”), to making our own adventures (with Ben), learning together, exploring together, spending more of this precious time together…at least for a little longer.
I’ll wait until next fall to start her…again.
What about you? Were you able to stay home with your kids? Did you rush them to school, or were they ready? What age were they?
(Photo By: Inspidilife)