Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Parenting Side of First Day Jitters

My stomach is tight and I'm having trouble breathing whenever I think about the first day of school next week. I've never quite felt like this about the start of the school year. What if all the kids are horrid and the teachers are mean? What if there isn't time to go to the bathroom or the directions aren't clear?  What if there aren't any friends?

My daughter is getting ready for her first day of preschool. Until now she's been in a lovely in-home daycare with all of her best friends (whose mothers I am good friends with as well). She's been there since she was three months old and I always knew she was in phenomenal hands. My daycare provider spent so much time helping us transition her back when she was just a peanut that I barely had a worry when I dropped her off that first day.

She thinks she's ready for college
Now? Now there seems to be so much more to worry about. It's not just if she'll nap or eat on time, but now I'm worried that she won't make friends or she'll make too many friends and not listen to the teacher. I'm worried she won't get along with the teacher or the teacher won't like her. I'm worried she won't understand the directions and then be so sensitive about being redirected that she'll be scared to ask for help the next time. Or that she won't go to the bathroom, or she will, but not make it to the potty. I'm scared she'll cry the whole first day and they'll just leave her in the corner telling her that they will be there when she's ready to calm down.

In my mind all of the other preschoolers are straight from Mean Girls and the teachers are different versions of the Trunchbull. And I know this is ridiculous because I work with kids and I know they are all wonderful and I know how caring and sweet early childhood teachers are. Still.

For four years I've been able to say I was a parent, and even said things like, "As a parent I know how you feel" to the parents of students I teach. That was a lie I didn't even know I was telling. I thought I understood, but I had no idea.

Every year I've been a part of helping separate the kindergartners from their parents, take them down the hallway and find their classroom. I've been a part of trying to get the parents to leave the school quickly, telling the parent (without realizing how condescending it sounds) "It's harder for you than it is for her."  Maybe it is, but that comment doesn't make it any easier on the parent or the child.

What I didn't understand was that I was walking that parent's heart down the hallway, away from them and their strong instinct to protect their child from danger. I didn't understand that in the parents mind I was taking their baby and throwing her down the hall to the wolves.

I didn't know that the parent just wanted to know that their child was going to be ridiculously loved, challenged, encouraged, and kept safe. As I worry about whether or not my daughter is going to get all four of these elements from her teacher I've got a new appreciation for the parents who will be entering my own school next week with their precious cargo in tow. I hope I can convey the same amount of love and trust to their parents that I want for my child's own school experience.


Unknown said...

This is such a beautiful post. I am also a "teacher mom", and I can SO relate to your thoughts here. My girls are now 10 and 12, but I still feel like a piece of my heart goes to class with them every day. And that helps me to remember that even my high school students have parents who need to know that their daughters are loved and cared for.

Sending hugs to you and your little sweetie on her first day.

Jan said...

This was lovely.