Friday, August 13, 2010

See what she just did? Myah, don't do that. Or that. Or good God, THAT

If there’s one thing Mulletville has going for it, it’s a plethora of daycares and preschools. I’m not sure why there are so many, since most of the town’s residents seem to do nothing but walk around half-dressed, drinking from wine bottles. Oh wait, I just answered my own question.

After the first daycare disaster, I’ve been diligently interviewing the staffs of other providers (remember the polygamist sect?). Chuck and I figure that having Junior attend preschool two days a week will prepare Junior for when Chuck goes back to work. We also thought that Junior, a friendly and outgoing three-year-old, might like to go to school and socialize with kids his own age.

Isn't that always a parental concern? That your kid's not gluing enough macaroni to paper?

Finally, after months of searching, I found it: the preschool of all preschools. I practically cried when the nice, non-yelling teacher ran me through a typical day: Live animals to pet, teddy bear picnics, pirate parades. No bowling. It’s close to my work. It’s safe and clean. It is an establishment that has no business being in Mulletville.

I love it.

The problem is, it’s only been two weeks and, to put it mildly, Junior isn’t too juiced about going. To make matters worse, I’m making matters worse in the way I handle it. In fact, if someone could have taped yesterday’s drop off, they could have used it as an educational video for what not to do when dropping your kid off at school.

On the drive in, Junior kept saying that he didn’t want to go. I tried to be cheery about the day’s activities—“Painting, Junior! Circle time! Toys and friends and slides! Fuck yes!”

Perhaps I oversold the experience. The kid’s too smart; I’m sure he could sense my desperation a mile away. Chuck was out of town. My mom was away. I needed Junior to go to school.

When we got to the classroom, Junior clung to my leg. Then he tried to hide under my skirt. “I want to go home!” he cried. I tried to distract him. We picked a toy. He wanted me to stay and play. I tried to get another kid to play with him. Five minutes passed. Ten minutes...

“I want to go home!”

“Junior, you can’t. It’s a school day.”

“I want to go home!”

“Let’s pick a toy you can play with.”

“I want to go home!”

The teacher inched her way over. She nodded for me to leave. I started to, but when Junior ran towards me, I caved and went back. I picked him up.

“I want to go home!”

“Junior, you can’t. It’s a school day.”

We went outside and took a little walk.

“I want to go home!”

“Your friends want to play with you.”

“No, I want to go home! I’m tired. I miss the kitty cats.”

Frick.

We went back to the classroom. I asked the teacher what to do. She told me to say goodbye and leave; he’d recover. So I said goodbye and left. Then, madness. He threw himself against the glass door and screamed bloody murder. He tried the door handle. He kicked. It was very unlike Junior. Except for a few meltdowns, he’s usually pretty low-key. He’s a sweet kid. To the parents watching from the hallway, he looked like he was possessed.

I started to walk down the hallway, but I could still hear him screaming. I couldn’t do it.

I went back and got him, then I called in sick. On the drive home he said, “See, Mommy? I just wanted to go home. I’ll go next time. I'm sorry.”

I’m floundering here. At the other daycare, it was easy to blame Junior’s unhappiness on them. They were horrible. Now, there’s no reason for him not to like it.

Of course, I’m looking at it through an adult’s eyes. I have 35 years of coping skills upon which to draw. To Junior, who’s been home with me, Chuck and grandparents for the last three years, the classroom probably seems frightening and overwhelming. The state-approved ratio of student to teacher is 10-1. He has to go from being an at-home super star to one of the herd.

As my mother put it, “It’s kind of like breaking in a wild animal.”

Lovely.

To some of my friends whose kids have been in daycare since four months, all of this is old hat. Their kids are seasoned professionals with schedules and classroom etiquette. I never thought I’d feel this way, but I do: It’s like I put Junior at a disadvantage by not enrolling him in daycare sooner. He’s suddenly the odd man out. The kids in the classroom look at him like “What’s the problem?”

Isn't he adjusting to what all kids eventually need to adjust to?

I’m dreading next week. I don’t want to botch up the drop off. The teacher is emailing me suggestions on how to handle it. I keep asking myself, What if Junior’s just not ready? Or what if I’m the one who’s not ready? As we spent the day together yesterday I thought, This is where I want to be: Home.

You know, what my kid said.

28 comments:

Cris Goode said...

I have the fear that this is going to happen to me one day. I recently started working from home and worry about if I ever have to take her back and how she will adjust. Good luck next week, I don't envy you one bit :)

The Mother said...

I say stick with it. Leave him. Let him figure out that it's fun.

You have more reasons to acclimatize him with another on the way. I've seen too many parents wait until AFTER the new one is born to start their kid in preschool. What kind of message does that send, hmmm?

Sometimes, parents really do know what's good for kids. Even if it means shoving them out the door, kicking and screaming.

Lindy said...

I think for some kids it's easier for them to say good-bye to you and walk you to the door...rather than you say goodbye and leave them. They feel like they are in control because they are "telling" you to leave.

It sounds harsh and you'll feel horrible while you are doing it but next time, keep walking. Then, wait a half an hour and call and check. By continously going back, you'll teach him how to act to get you to behave like he wants.

This is my $.02.... :)

Good luck!

kyooty said...

just keep dropping him off and not turning back, if it's anything drastic the teachers will call you home form work. Don't waste sick days on unsick days. It's not worth it for either of you. You can do this. I didn't but you can. I also don't work, so you can either think it's good advice or tell me I'm full of poo

Mama Badger said...

This is never fun. I've been doing it for over 2 years, and the days when LG says he wants to go home are still hard. I agree with the teacher, though. You need to leave, even if he's screaming.

The Mother is right, you don't want to deal with the "center of attention" syndrome when the new baby gets here. Then you'll be exhausted and have a little one to deal with, too.

Do you have a "goodbye" and "hello" ritual? Our teacher taught us this one (stolen partly from "The Kissing Hand"). I give LG a kiss in his palm right before I leave. He knows I'm going right after that. Then, when I pick him up, he gives me one in my palm (like he's giving it back). That way he can hold on to my kiss all day. I've been told they find him stroking his palm at nap time sometimes. It works.

Mostly Good luck. You'll figure it out.

Magpie said...

It can be really hard. My kid was weepy & clingy for a couple of weeks when she first started daycare, but there were twins who continued to cry for more than a year. Every day. Wailing.

Stick it out - it'll most likely be fine.

Otter Thomas said...

Our first day care would take our son and go show him something he liked while we left. It worked pretty well. Now we are at a new place and he tells my wife to go every day.

My wife also works at a day care and it seems to me that it is much more difficult on the parents than the kids. Leave him there and he will get better pretty quick. At least that is what I think. Good luck.

Sparkling said...

I agree with The Mother. Don't wait. You don't want to associate having to go to school because HE arrived and changed everything. I'm the oldest and think my sisters' arrivals caused lots of changes I didn't like. Maybe ask HIM to tell YOU why it's fun to go rather than trying to impose your ideas on him on the ride in. Ask him things like what he thinks they will paint today or who will bring in something fun for show and tell, etc. Let him take ownership.

A Mom on Spin said...

Avoid the whole thing completely.

Have Chuck drop him off on Monday!

Pricilla said...

I can't offer much since I don't have kids. At least not the human kind. But I can tell you what others have told me and that is that your child will mellow out once you leave. And others have said it is harder on you than Junior. He is also going to need a distraction for when Junior Jr. arrives....

SLColman said...

Oh man sounds like a traumatic experience for you both :(

Amy said...

Speaking from experience, dealing with the separation anxiety now is MUCH MUCH better than waiting until kindergarten. And especially with a new baby on the way because jealousy will kick in at some point and make separation anxiety worse. When my son started kindergarten he was a disruption to the classroom. I had to take him to school and walk him to his classroom. The teacher would have to pull him off of me kicking and screaming. For 2/3 of the school year. I felt terrible. I felt like scum. I was embarrassed at the way other parents looked at me. HE learned that if he disrupted the class or was bad he got sent home. It started a bad pattern. The school called 4 out of 5 days a week. It got to where when the phone rang I cried like Pavlov's dogs. I was on the principals speed dial. (She hit the wrong button on her way home one night and accidentally left me a message about being late for dinner) I went into depression and took him to school and slept through his school day so I wouldn't have to think about what he was doing now. I almost got to the point of panic attacks running errands because I was afraid the school would call any second. By his second year of school, it was a routine that he was use to and we didn't have the same issues.

I do realize that this was an extreme case because most kids are fine after a week or 2, but the worst can happen and it is better to be prepared.

Stick with it. Take him to school, tell him you love him and you will see him after school, to have a great day, give him a hug and leave. No matter how hard he screams and cries or how much it makes you feel like the scum of the earth. Be strong. He has to do it eventually and it would be better for everyone if that happens before kindergarten when you don't have a choice.

Amy said...

I didn't clarify in my previous comment about our extreme case that I was actually pregnant at the time and the baby was born in the middle of the school year. The jealousy kicked in and the separation anxiety did get worse for a while because he was getting sent away while the baby got all of moms attention.

Reflecting Light said...

I think it's all in how you look at it. Not to be too bright and cheery here, but you have a kid who loves you so much that a room full of toys and playmates looks lame. You know you are leaving him in a good place, which he will realize too.

Even though I'm a mom now, I've been a nanny to a little girl since she was 4. She's had 'seperation anxiey' issues off and on. And I always preferred her mom to leave as quickly as she was comfortable with. The sooner she left, the sooner Anna could adjust. Some days we had so much fun, she cried when I left. I think it's hard for children to grasp the concept that it's temporary.

After a couple of weeks of your new routine he'll most likely 'get it'. Don't give yourself a hard time in the meantime.

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

I know you will now hate me for what I'm about to say:

Quit giving in. Think about it: if you give in and take him home, he sees that his tactics are working! He thinks, "If this broad tries the whole 'leaving me at school" bullshit again, I'm going to have to amp up my game." And, suddenly, he's not just banging on the glass, he's making himself vomit and he's peeing his pants.

Kids are very. very. smart.

If you like the daycare, and you trust them, let them try. They understand that kids have adjustment periods.

My son was the same way going to school. Except, he was going into FIRST GRADE. It took the Principal and Vice-Principal physically picking him up and carrying him into school while he was kicking and yelling to get him into school. I was a total mess, and I don't even go to work so really, I *could* have stayed home with him. But, for how long? I certainly wasn't going to home school him. And, the same for you: he needs to do it sooner or later, and better sooner than later, because he can't stay home forever if Chuck gets a job.

It's so hard. I feel for you. But you will make it through and so will Junior. Next year at this time, he'll be comforting the little boy who's new to daycare. Seriously.

(God, I'm making this a novel...) Don't let him think that going home is even an option or he'll do whatever it takes to make that happen. Just be clear: we are going to school. You can scream and make our good-bye sad, or you can hug me and kiss me and make our good-bye happy. When we get home tonight we'll do X together and have fun. But we can't do that until you go to school. No school = no fun time together.

You can do it! Put on your big girl panties & don't crap in them!!!

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...
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Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...
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Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...
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Frogs in my formula said...

Thank you, everyone, for your comments and suggestions. I particularly like the suggestion that I put on big girl panties AND not crap in them. Hah.

Next week is a new week and I'm going to stand my ground.

Gulp.

Everyday Goddess said...

You deserve a medal, so I am giving you one of my weekly Goddess Awards for a blog well done.

Come by to collect it anytime you want, if you want to.

Keep the faith, they do manage to grow up into delightful happy children in no time!

Julia said...

Dump and run mama. You've got to do it or it will NEVER end. One quick hug and kiss and walk out the door. He'll cry for like 30 seconds and be fine. Just say "I can do it."

tootertotz said...

Hang in there, frogmama! You can do it and even better...Junior can do it.

I find it easier to view the crying as a protest than a sad thing. It helps me to ignore it and walk away when that's what I need to do. So just imagine he is showing you his frustration and it seems a whole lot less appealing to cave.


And certainly don't crap in your big girl panties...you're the only one who will have to clean them in your house. Chuck can't even hit the hamper for pete's sake!

Sara said...

2 days a week is a great time to get him used to it. Instead of 5 days a week. He's got your number, tho. Let us know how next week goes. Hoping for the best.

Jen said...

I went through the same thing with both of my kids. Luckily the teachers pushed me out the door and didn't let me back in. After three or four days of my banging my fists on the door it was okay. He will learn much faster if you just walk away. It will be much easier with the second one because you will have learned that Junior was just fine without you for a few hours, in fact he even had fun, even if he doesn't tell you that. It's really hard but it's not going to get easier if you keep calling in sick.

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gretchen said...

Every teacher I've ever known has said the same thing. If the parent will just LEAVE, the kid is fine. They may throw a horrible fit, but once the parent is gone, the teacher can do their job and get them involved and the kid is just fine. And I LOVE Mama Badger's idea of the goodbye ritual. Go check that book out of the library.

Jodi said...

That is so funny "dump and run mama" I was torn up about my twin's first day at "school" when they were 6 months old. Anther mom at work told me pretty soon you will be squealing away in your car after you dump and run. My kids love school. They look forward to it now although we do have drop off issues every time they switch rooms.. I am sure your kid will love it soon. I don't feel bad dropping them off either.

Mrsbear said...

It's so hard when they lose it like that. We went through a similar experience when my son started preK at 4 yrs. He'd been home with me the whole time. He cried for two weeks every single time I left him and I sobbed all the way home. It made me feel better that he was happy and tear-free at pickup. And now he's only a little bit scarred and I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with preK. Going in to 2nd grade and well adjusted thus far.

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