I started school again this week. Preschool to be exact. Yes, so it's technically my three year old daughter who started school, but since she's attending a co-op preschool, in many ways, I'm starting preschool too. Can I just say -- I am so not ready for this!! How is it that my baby is already such a big girl that she's going to preschool? I can't handle it.
The separation anxiety has been particularly difficult. On me. Not her. She's fine. Yesterday was the first time we did the "drop-off," and seeing how well she handled it and how excited she was to go play and be at school made me simultaneously so proud and so sad. The proud mama part of me just wanted to pat myself on the back for raising a secure and confident little girl who was excited about learning and school because I'd been telling her how fun and "big kid" it is to go to school. The needy mama part of me had a hard time with her acceptance and happiness and wanted to cry and say, "Don't you understand? This is terrible. We won't be together all day every day anymore. Mama doesn't get to be there with you and for you every second of every day. This is awful -- and you should probably cry and cling to my legs." Luckily, proud mama won out and I conducted myself rather admirably (if I do say so myself).
Adding to my anxiety was all of the "safety training" us co-op parents had to endure. Since I'll be working in the classroom two to three times per month, I, along with the other working parents got a bit of training. Learning where the cleaning supplies are and how to walk a group of three-year-olds to the playground I could handle. I even kinda liked checking out the red apron I'd be wearing on my work days. However, when it was time to review fire drill procedures and earthquake and lockdown procedures, I nearly lost it. One of my greatest fears is being separated from my kids during a disaster like that and spending an hour discussing those, almost sent me over the edge. It took every ounce of willpower I possess not to run out of there yelling, "Screw this! We're homeschooling through college. Phone tree in case of emergency my ass! My kid will always be in my visual line of sight."
So, clearly I'm not handling all of this too well. Yes, I'm excited for both of us to make new friends through the co-op and am happy to get the opportunity to share this experience with her. But, these signs that the babies are growing up, don't usually sit too well with me.
The other person who's having a tough time with all of this preschool nonsense is my son. At two, he relies on his older sister for pretty much everything. She is his world and his source of entertainment. She's his protector and his buddy. Having her gone has been really difficult for him. The past couple of weeks have been full of comments that break my heart. Comments like, "I want a best friend too, mom," when he sees her playing with friends -- and comments like, "I want to go to preschool too." Yesterday, about an hour and a half into her two hour school session, he and I were both ready to go spring her from her education prison. As an adult, I managed to limit my actions to checking my cell phone every three minutes to see if it was time yet. As a toddler, his impulse controls are more limited and he kept running to the car, yelling "Preschool! I want to go to preschool!" I hear ya buddy, I really do.
Next week, he and I are signed up for a class at the Little Gym during her school time (thanks to one of our Facebook readers who suggested that when I mentioned he currently believes he can "fly like Buzz Lightyear."). I'm hoping that makes our time away from our big girl easier to handle and gives us some special mommy-son time. Not to mention the hope that he'll learn how to safely jump from high places...
I can't believe I have to endure this all over again next week - and most every week thereafter for the next 16 or so years. Please tell me it gets easier.