Okay, yes, I realize it’s preschool. I get that she is there only a few hours a day for 2 days a week. I also understand that this is the first time many of the children will be away from their parents and socialization will be a big deal.
Knowing all of this already, I had images of a little red school house where my daughter would be sitting down at little tables filled with ABC crafts after hanging up her school bag in the little cubbies. I imagined organized singing with all the little ones participating and getting along in harmony. Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking. This isn’t a 22 minute sitcom! And while I logically know that, I had high hopes for my baby girl’s first school experience.
The process of picking out a preschool was nothing short of stressful. I had no idea of the waiting lists and the interviews and the preparation parents had to do MONTHS before the school year would begin. Thank goodness for my extremely in touch and organized friend who brought this crazy process to my attention. So last winter, after touring a few schools and writing pro and con lists, we decided on the school my daughter would start at this past September.
She’s been in school now for almost 2 months and at times I feel underwhelmed. Is there anything wrong with the school we decided on? No. Is she not enjoying her 2 mornings there? No. Then what’s the problem? I believe it’s a mixture of my control freak, type A personality and the fact that I’m a dreamer at heart. There are too many times I think to myself that the communication between the school and parents could be better or that the parent meetings could be more organized. Then I find myself feeling bad for these thoughts as I know everyone at the school is simply doing the best they can to corral toddlers and preschoolers into some sort of structure while minimizing meltdowns. As those thoughts are pushed to the background, I begin to envision those dreamlike scenarios of the little red school house filled with singing. I recall the pictures on the brochures and website of the smiling kids holding up their art work of the day. The scene of the screaming kids clinging on to their moms is a far cry from those pictures.
Then it dawns on me. The real scene I see in front of me is best picture of all. Why? Because it’s our children experiencing school for the first time. It’s their first rite of passage into some sort of independence. For the first time they are experiencing time away from mommy which might be met with fear and sadness. They might be excited and run around the room with their new found freedom. They might be thinking of how to play with another child on their own. It is in this sometimes crazy and chaotic scene where they will grow even more into little individuals. It might not always be neat and tidy or organized and quiet. There will be tears and fighting over toys and running wildly around the classroom. But there will also be singing and laughing and learning and fun. There will still be times when I may express my concern about some things that might happen at the school, after all I need to be my daughter’s voice. There will be times I will question if I made the right choice. But as I leave drop off, I know that she will be fine either way. As I glance behind me into the classroom door, I see my baby sitting at the small table rolling play dough with some of her classmates with a big smile on her face. Now that’s a picture for the brochure!