My youngest child started preschool yesterday, and Mom was the one who learned the lesson. The drop-off was traumatic, even though he moved from one room up to the next — the oldest — in the same daycare center that he has attended all year.
But I made a big deal about it, just like I did when my older two started preschool. Then, I was a stay-at-home mom so the transition from home to school seemed big. Now, I’m a working mom, and the transition in childcare to pre-K simply means changing rooms and teachers with all your friends.
But wherever life takes you, I still believe preschool is a big deal, an exciting time, a time that marks the formal start of what hopefully will be a lifelong desire to learn. It’s monumental, major, a milestone, amazing and all that. The first day of preschool deserves special attention, a photograph and as much fuss as my older two got for the start of their elementary school grades this week.
I learned yesterday that piling on all those hopes and dreams is too much pressure for a 4-year-old.
He cried and cried and hugged and hugged me during drop-off as he felt the full weight of all that pressure and those expectations. While he usually marches in smiling, greets his friends and disappears with them onto the playground, on the drive to school that “first” day he hid himself underneath his favorite green blanket, known affectionately as “Green.”
On the long prison walk down the hall to his new classroom, he sucked his thumb – usually an act reserved only for naps and bedtime – clutching “Green” as if it were his only friend.
He had been a little unsettled all week.
If I had just gotten him up and said “Yea! You’re starting preschool today!” he would have been fine as I took a picture in his class.
Instead his first-day-of-preschool picture in the classroom doorway shows him holding onto “Green” for dear life, wadded up in his arms as he hid his worried face partially behind it. Getting ready to launch his lifetime love of learning.
By the time I picked him up, he was smiling and having a great time as he took me on a tour of his classroom and chatted about his friends and about what he did that day. He skipped into his classroom today with a smile and a quick hug.
The pressure is off – preschool is back to being just a normal part of everyday life.
Yesterday’s milestone, I realized, only belonged to me as my youngest one grows up.
~ Lillie-Beth Brinkman