11 Oct 2010

Preschool

5 Comments Toddler

Garrett started preschool about a month ago at a very lovely, well-respected school. His first day there, he happily waved goodbye to me as he played with some plastic dinosaurs on the floor.  It was a little too easy of a transition; a little too good to be true.

Russ and I went to pick him up that day at 2:45, and he sobbed uncontrollably when he saw us.  His red, puffy eyes were an indication that he had been crying for some time.  “He was fine all morning”, said the teacher who had just handed him a graham cracker, “Then at lunch he just broke down”.  We chalked it up to separation anxiety and took him again the next day. This time he was slightly more hesitant and cried a little when I left, but the crying was even worse when I picked him up.

Come to find out, he was only one of two kids from his class who stayed through lunch and nap.  He had watched all the other kids get picked up by their mommies and daddies and clearly thought that we had forgotten him. Oof. The rest of that week, I stayed with him from nine to noon then took him home to nap.  The following Monday I kept him home, then started the process again.   If I even left to go to the bathroom, Garrett wept until I returned.  If I left him there for an hour, he’d slowly recover, but he was never truly happy. This was not my kid.

In the time I spent there, I also realized that this school was a “school”.  It was big and echoey and white and institutional. Garrett is three.  He needs color and warmth and energy and stimulation.  The teachers had graciously corrected the lunch-time ritual, but I was starting to realize this was not going to be the place for Garrett.  After months of tireless searching for a good preschool and finally settling on this one… We were going to have to make a change.

After several screams into my pillow, I quickly did some more research and found the exact preschool I was looking for.  I visited, visited again, and took Garrett with me on the third trip.  This was it.  This was the right place.  It was bright, colorful, stimulating. There was artwork, done by the kids, strewn everywhere. The bathroom was clean, attached to the classroom, and small. The yard was whimsical, safe, and perfect for toddlers. The teachers were engaging and energetic, slipping in valuable lessons throughout the time I was there, without the kids even realizing it! I quickly went into action, finding out what I’d have to do to start Garrett there immediately. Then I had to go back to Garrett’s school and tell them I was pulling him out . This was quite hard to do, but they were very supportive.  This is a good school with good people, it just wasn’t the right fit for my kid.  Of course as Garrett and I were leaving that day, for the last time, he prattled on about his teacher and sang a song he learned that day.  I immediately thought I might have made the wrong decision.  But then I reminded myself why I did it, and silently prayed that I hadn’t screwed up.

Garrett started his new school two weeks ago.  Day one, there was some crying when I left but it was the kind of crying I knew would subside within five minutes of my exiting. Day two, less crying.  Day three he napped there for the first time and when I picked him up, he looked elated;  not because I was there, but because he had a fantastic day.  Instead of wanting to rush right out, he asked me to sit and “learn with him” a bit.  He loves this place.  It’s a good fit for him.  And he’s flourishing.

As a parent, we have a lot of tough decisions to make and we have to do a lot of uncomfortable things.  But there’s something so incredibly satisfying about making those tough choices because we want what’s best for out kids.  Through this experience, I learned that I can’t be afraid of anything when it comes to taking care of Garrett, and it’s okay to change our minds about something, even if it seemed like the perfect choice at the time.  Confrontations that would have made me sick a few years ago are now challenges I face head-on.  I feel as though I’m preparing myself for all the years of schooling (and other challenges) that are coming our way.  I always want to be involved in what’s going on, I want to be able to speak my mind without fear, and I want to instill that in Garrett.

The other day on the way to school Garrett said, “I’m not going to cry at school today, Mom. I’m only going to have fun!” That was pretty damn cool to hear.

This list of things to look for in a preschool is great!

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Lisa Arch likes being a working actress... but LOVES being a Mom!
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5 Responses to “Preschool”

  1. Reply Tracy K says:

    Awesome. You teach and inspire.

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      Thanks, Norma and Tracy! I’m inspired just by the fact that you’re reading and responding. I’m a happy girl! 🙂

  2. Reply Norma Lamothe says:

    I loved this story about preschool. I wish I had something like to read when my sons were young. You are doing a real good job! Thanks for shareing.

  3. Reply Max says:

    I wish you would take ME out of difficult situations I get stuck in, only to make me happier and not crying.

    Wait! CAN YOU???

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