My girl started preschool. And so far, the reviews are mixed. I think she likes it. She likes everything they do there. It is an amazing place with an actual curriculum, for pete's sake. There are some farm animals, a little green house, gardens and two play grounds, complete with a water table and a gigantic sandbox. She likes the teacher and the aide. She goes to the bathroom there, with no issue. She washes her hands, sits in circle time and has her snack ("Cookies and apples, today!")
The only problem is, I'm not there.
"I want you to staaaaay, Mommy!" She pleads with me every time.
(I find it interesting, her choice of words. She never says, "I don't want to go," she says things like, "I don't want to miss you, Mommy," or "Can you stay with me?")
It's been a tug and pull on my heart, for sure, the moment of weeping before they whisk her out of my car, but perhaps less so than for some. I signed my girl up for this, not for the educational/academic benefit but mainly because I think she needs the experience of being with adults apart from me, in a setting where her cooperation is expected and required. She needs to learn and get used to routines outside our own, in close proximity to other kids, whose need for personal space may be, uh, less expansive than her own.
I wish, though, that I could be a fly on the wall. I wish that I could see how she interacts with the teacher and the other kids when I'm not there to hide behind or cling to, or to remind her to stop chewing on her finger. But having had loads of experience in school systems and with first time parents' anxieties, I've resisted writing copious notes or lurking outside the door to see how she's doing. I've used the valet service instead of walking her in and then having to peel her from my legs to say goodbye. I'm waiting to volunteer in her room until I know she's [not going to stick to me like a burr when it's time to leave] anxiety free about being there.
I'm doing what I can to help ease her transition. Even though she's only going two days a week, there have been other *behavioral indicators* that she's having a little more anxiety than is usual for her. She's having trouble falling to sleep again. She wants only me again (after a blissful but short-lived period of time during which she preferred her father.) There's also just the joy of being three. Sassy. Fresh. Whining. Whining. WHIIIINING. [Trying to drive her mother to eat chocolate cake at 9:00 AM] Getting 50 time-outs before lunch. Crying when I have to go to work (ONE DAY A WEEK.)
So, today I asked her what she wanted to do.
And she said, "Nothing."
I said, "Nothing? What do you mean? Where do you want to go today?"
She said, "I don't want to go ANYWHERE. I just want to STAY HOME."
And this is what I heard:
"There's just been a lot, lately. I'm feeling kind of stressed. I didn't sleep well last night and I just want to hang out here, with you, and veg on the couch. I need a Mental Health Day."
And, you know, so do I.