Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Preschool Battles on the Bench: Week 2 (and final?)

On Monday morning, I was really disappointed to discover that, for me at least, Week 2 of Preschool was more difficult than Week 1 even. As my younger sister and I often say, it's all about the expectations. If you expect your kid to sleep until 6am and he sleeps until 7am, it's fantastic! But if you expect the child to sleep until at least 7:30 or 8 and you hear her chipper voice at 7:03, it's a bad start to the day.

Likewise, I think Monday was so terrible because I thought it had to get better after the first week. But we walked into the building behind a kid from her class who was already crying, and so she started sniffling before we had even approached the classroom. Great.

When I tried to leave her in the room, she cried and clung to me. "Stay for just a few minutes!" she kept whimpering tearfully. Last week, I was frustrated by the difficulties of separation anxiety and a little nostalgic thinking about the fact that she was moving away from me. But this week, for the first time, I was actually close to crying. As I walked out of the classroom on Monday morning, there were tears in my eyes and I was afraid that, if I tried to talk, I would seriously start crying.

I think I was more ready to cry from frustration than from sad emotions. Is it going to get harder every week, instead of easier? For months, I've been looking forward to Eleanor's being in Preschool in September. For one month, I was going to have a few hours a week to myself. Whether I choose to run errands, get some things done around the house, or go for a cup of coffee ... I could do it by myself! I only had 4 weeks of Preschool before Baby #2 is due, and I planned to make the most of it.

Yet here I am, halfway through "my free time." I haven't run errands, or gone home, or relaxed in a coffee shop. I've spent the majority of my time on an uncomfortable wooden bench outside the classroom, trying to pass the time and quell my mounting frustration.

It's been a weird limbo. I feel like we are encouraged to stay .... but we don't really do anything. We sit outside the classroom and listen to crying, and then quiet, and then some more crying. Ever since the first day, the only time a parent has been called in is for massive accidents that require a change of clothes, either not making it to the bathroom in time or when a kid got so worked up that he threw up all over himself and the teacher. Do the teachers really want us there? Or are they wishing we would go away and just let them do their job?

I don't really want to be there, but am scared that if I go, Eleanor will have a massive meltdown and it will be 10 times worse since I wasn't there to pick up the pieces. I can't shake the feeling that I have to put in the time investment now, to ensure that Preschool goes smoothly for the rest of the year.

Anyway, after all of this doom and gloom about Monday morning, today was better. Keith dropped Eleanor off because I had a doctor's appointment. After the doctor's appointment, I did stop by a coffee shop and pick up a drink, so I may not have had hours to sit and write or read, but I got a drink! When I showed up at the school , I didn't go anywhere near the classroom and that purgatory bench. I went straight into the other building, to the parents' lounge, and felt much more relaxed and at ease even though I was in the vicinity. I could plug in my computer and didn't have to listen for Eleanor's sobs.

Next week, instead of walking Eleanor into the building, we are given the option to drop the kids off at the door, and they will be escorted to their classrooms by teachers and staff. Eleanor's teacher swears that this actually makes it easier for the kids. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that she's right.

Even though I fully understand that expectations often make for disappointment, I still expect to spend next week OFF the bench. I will run an errand, get some things done around the house, and do one fun thing for myself during Preschool time. And Eleanor will survive all this just fine!


sarah manville gann said...

Parents don't stay at preschool. Or kindergarten. Or anywhere else there are professionals to pick up the pieces. I can't run out the door fast enough....I learned early on that if you hang around, the drama does too. Once Mom disappears, the audience isn't as interesting to manipulate.

M. Lubbers said...

You do make a good point. All of us mothers that got suckered into staying were doing the preschool thing for the first time. I think any more experienced mothers were straight out the door!

Next week I'm dropping her off and not setting foot in the building.