Growing Up: ‘Aint No Thang for a Preschooler

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Posted by LaurenKelly | Posted in Miscellaneous | Posted on 15-04-2012

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I sniff sniff sniffled as I watched my 3 year old son Gooby run down the pathway to our car last Monday morning. He was carrying his backpack on his back and it seemed as though it was enveloping his entire body. Gooby didn’t seem to notice though. He was more excited that he had his very own lunch zipped up inside the bag and, more importantly, that he was starting preschool that day. Just before I buckled him into his car seat I paused to take a picture to memorialize this momentous occasion.

We spent the last month counting down the days on Gooby’s superhero calendar in anticipation of his first day of school. To mark the big day, he picked an Ahsoka sticker from his Star Wars Clone Wars sticker collection. Every day in between was marked with various Marvel superheroes ranging from the Incredible Hulk to Wolverine. As Ahsoka day approached Gooby became increasingly excited. But just before we walked out the door last Monday morning, we had a total meltdown – “we” naturally meaning, both he and I.

I’m sure Gooby didn’t quite know why he felt such anxiety. But for me it was so many things. My baby is growing up! I am inviting more people than I have before into the shared responsibility of parenting and teaching my child. I am partial to my daycare provider with whom Gooby has been with since he was 3 months old. Over the course of the last 3 years, we have grown to love and immensely respect our daycare provider. She has played a central role in building our confidence as parents, and has allowed us to go to work each day knowing that Gooby has been cared for in the most compassionate way. She comforted Gooby when he was sick, kissed his ouchies when he fell down, and ran her fingers through his hair to help him relax before naptime. Our daycare provider changed nothing short of one million poopy diapers and was most recently the catalyst in our success in potty training Gooby this year. To put it mildly, our provider is incredible. So of course, with the start of preschool I worried that Gooby would never again experience the same love and care that he had with our daycare provider.

When we pulled up to Gooby’s preschool he launched out of the car and ran to the front door, leaving me in the dust. He made a friend (Nafan a.k.a. Nathan) instantly as I lingered around the cubbies nervously shifting my weight from one foot to another, biting the nail on my left thumb. Gooby’s teacher told him to say goodbye to me, which he did with great confidence and delight. Before I left I asked his teacher if she would help wipe his little booty if he happened to poop that day. Yah, that’s right. One of my biggest worries was whether the expectations of my baby would be, ahem, out of reach. As I went about my day I thought about Gooby a minimum of once every hour. I wondered what he was doing, if he was happy, whether he ate his lunch, if he napped, and if he had any potty accidents.

That evening, I nearly got a speeding ticket as I raced to pick him up at the end of the school day. When I arrived, Gooby was happily playing with his teacher and chit chatting with the cleaning staff who told me he was beautiful. He talked to me nonstop (no kidding!) the entire way home. He spent the evening in an unusually good mood and after dinner Gooby told me to close my eyes so that he could give me a surprise. I complied and, when instructed, opened my lids to see him proudly displaying the bits of paper he cut that day when he learned to use scissors for the first time. At bedtime I snuggled close to him in his little fire truck bed and asked him again to tell me about his day. He told me all about his adventures and, unprompted, told me that one of his “really nice” teachers rubbed his back to help him relax at naptime. It was in that moment that my anxiety lessened, and I was able to breathe a little easier. Apparently there are more people in this world interested in loving my child beyond my family and my daycare provider. While I know nobody will ever replace our daycare provider, I was heartened to discover that such love is still possible as Gooby’s world expands.

School Days…..

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 07-02-2011

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My baby is growing up.  Sure, she’s only 17 months old – but we’re being catapulted toward the future, and I’m not sure I’m ready for all of this.

On Saturday, we took DJ to an Open House at the pre-pre school that one of my Godsons attends.  I have long known that he loves the school, and held it in the back of my mind that DJ might follow him there (and end up in the same class as my other Godson!) when she was old enough.  I guess I just hadn’t realized how quickly the “time” would be upon us.

The pre-pre school program starts at two years old, which DJ will have turned just days before the next school year starts (seriously, my stomach just contorted into a knot as I typed the word “school year”).  We need to submit our application to hold her place in the program – and I am having a really hard time accepting that I am already filling out applications and touring schools. I guess I thought I had until her sophomore year in high school before all of that started!  I’m only half kidding.  I cannot tell you how thankful I am to have another 7 months to get used to the idea.

The school is a co-op, and meets only once a week.  That means that I will be there each time DJ has a school day, and will be able to cry over her as I watch her experience things like Play-doh, a class pet, and cubbies.  Ok, ok – so I’ll try not to be that mom, but I’m not gonna lie – it’s gonna be rough….for me.

As DJ gets older, I am able to see her budding personality more clearly.  One of the things that stands out to me the most is her strong sense of independence.  While we have practiced a “modern version” of attachment parenting (I just made that term up), DJ is really confident in who she is, and is seemingly less and less worried when I leave her in the care of others.  Quite honestly, I’m the one who still struggles with separation anxiety.  However, because of the adventurous, fearless and curious girl that DJ is – I know that I need to step out of her way and let her do the things she’s developmentally ready for….like school.

Not too many months ago, I was discussing this whole school thing with my best friend (the mother of my Godsons).  I said, “How do you know all of this?  I am super overwhelmed by the details.  Just tell me where I need to be, and when.” (Referring to the Open House, etc).  I looked at her in wonderment, as she knew so, so much about this next phase of grown-up kid life.  I was slightly insecure about it all, not convinced I would ever actually sound like an expert on this sort of topic – school, enrollment, classroom rules, parent/teacher relationships, or how to make cute bunny-shaped sandwiches for class snacks.  I guess I saw myself as that one flakey mom who was always outside the circle, showing up on school holidays because I hadn’t read the “closed” memo, or forgetting the photo of our dogs for show-and-tell day.  But, tonight, something magical happened.  The topic of pre-pre school came up with a friend of mine, and after I finished babbling some, she asked, “How do you know all of this?”

It happened.  Without even trying, I became the mom I was scared I couldn’t be.  I had retained the details, and I actually sounded like a mom in the know. Maybe we’d be OK after all.  Maybe I’d even end up hosting a favorite craft project in a corner of DJ’s big new classroom.  Maybe I’ll be a mom who guides other mothers who aren’t quite ready for this whole growing up thing, either.

Yes, DJ is still my baby – and she always will be.  But, what never ceases to amaze me about this mothering gig is how it also affords me to grow.  DJ and I are constantly growing up together – learning new things, stretching beyond our comfort zone, letting go, and maturing along each of the “next steps.”  At the end of the day, I want her to be as proud of my growth as I am of hers.  (And, I should probably warn her now – I will likely be the kind of mom who embarrasses her by chaperoning her dances.  I can’t let her get too wrapped up in this whole “independence” thing!).

I Don’t Want to Go to School!

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Posted by liafreitas | Posted in Miscellaneous | Posted on 07-09-2010

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I am tired.  We are into the 3rd week of school and I am exhausted.  LG is too.  You see I have been keeping a secret.  Going to school is tough.  Oh, that isn’t a secret?  Some how it was to me!

All the years I was teaching I could never really see school from a parents perspective because I wasn’t a parent yet.  Now that I am on the other side, I totally get it.  My daughter has to hold it together for 7 hours a day with 3 short recesses in there.  It is a lot for a little girl!

This schedule has been tough for us.  LG is tired at night and falls instantly asleep, which is good.  She is also missing me.  We used to spend most days together and although she went to preschool that was only part time.  Being in school all day almost every day is leaving my girl with major separation anxiety.

I am having to spend much more time snuggling my little girl, which I don’t mind of course!  There are tears several times a week about not wanting to leave me.  It makes me so sad even though the moment she gets to school she is fine.  Thankfully after talking to a few other moms, we are all dealing with stuff like this.  I am glad we have each other to work through this with.

LG’s teacher assures us that by October the kids should be well adjusted and back to normal.  That is 3 more weeks!!!!  Until then, I guess it is more snuggles and reassurance for my girl.

Feeling Grown Up

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 17-05-2010

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Six whole hours…that’s the longest we’ve ever left DJ – and we did it on Saturday.

Several weeks ago, we received an invitation for our good friends’ wedding.  The envelope was addressed to just my husband and me, so we knew the time had come – we were going to have to leave DJ for more than the standard two hour dinner or movie date.  While we were already having separation anxiety, we knew that it was the nudge we needed to move beyond our comfort zone.

DJ is now 8 ½ months old, and while I’ve never actually claimed a parenting style – I think mine probably most closely resembles “attachment parenting.”  I cannot tell you how many times I hear “It’s good for you, and it’s good for her” with regard to DJ and I spending time away from one another.  While I do believe that’s true, I believe it’s only good for us when it feels natural.  It’s starting to feel natural.

I am beginning to crave a social life.  I am starting to miss time alone with my husband.  I am looking forward to allowing DJ to build trust in others who also love and cherish her by allowing them time alone with her.  Sure, it’s still not my favorite thing to be without her, but it’s beginning to feel less terrifying.

My husband and I had a wonderful time at the wedding.  It was fun to wear eyeliner, to actually take a flat iron to my hair, to lather on the bronzing lotion – and to have a reason for wearing a strapless bra!  It was nice to get dressed up and not have to worry about how long my dry-clean-only dress would remain spit-up free.

However, what I found to be the most refreshing (beside the hosted bar with chilled Chardonnay) was that even though we were having a legitimate adult outing, we were still committed parents who talked of DJ often.  We had become that annoying couple who bragged about our baby’s latest developments – and even felt slightly offended when others didn’t comment on her genius when we gushed over her ability to drink from a straw.

After the bride and groom cut the cake, my husband leaned over and said, “I miss DJ.  Are you ready?”  He didn’t have to ask me twice.  With stiletto heels in hand, we dashed off into the moonlight to make our way back home.

Of course DJ was sound asleep in her Papa’s arms when we arrived, and there were no signs of trauma.  She had survived, and we were feeling very grown up.