My daughter started her first week of Pre-K last week and at the end of Day 1 she was excited. Day 2, we had some minor whining at drop off but she came home all smiles. Day 3, a little boy knocked over her block tower and someone else took her baby doll. This was the beginning of her new found dislike for school. Day 4, she came home miserable and with all the attitude and sass she could muster, proclaimed that she was not going to school anymore.
Since we had a long weekend following the first week of school I figured this would give her some time to cool off and she would go back to being happy with school again. Nope. She cried the night before school and was visibly upset during breakfast. Then to make matters worse it was one of those mornings where we have to be out the house at 8:00am and everyone wakes up at 7:35am. I barely had time to throw breakfast together and thank God they have the option of buying school lunch.
Miraculously the kids got to school on time and with all the rush to get out of the house my daughter momentarily forgot about not wanting to go to school. I figured I was in the clear and handing my daughter over to her teacher would be a cinch. Then we get to the drop off door and there are several kids bawling their eyes out to desperate moms who for the love of everything just will.not.leave!
My daughter took one look at the crying kids and cajoling mommies and started crying too. Real tears! Noooooo!!!!! Prior to this all she did was whimper and whine at drop off. That’s cool. I can handle a little whining. Tears…not so much.
As I watched the first tear drop roll down her little cheek, all the feelings of guilt I have about sending my baby to school while I stayed home came rushing in. My stomach tightened and I felt terrible. Terrible because since the kids returned to school, I have had four glorious days of no kids in the house for a six hour stretch. I wasn’t nearly as sad as I thought I would be about being home alone with no kids, and watching my daughter cry made me feel really guilty about not missing her as much as she missed me.
I am enjoying my time home alone. I can put things away and have them stay in one spot for at least six hours! I have no one calling my name over and over asking me what’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks. I don’t have to listen to complaints of I’m bored or mediate fights over Minecraft because this one blew up that one’s house with TNT. Yeah, I am enjoying the respite that the kids being back in school brings. This was made even clearer after they were home for the long weekend and destroyed my weeks’ worth of organizing in ten minutes.
I knew that if I allowed myself to get sucked into an emotional showdown with my four year old she was sure to win, and winning meant I would be taking her back home with me. That was not an option. I love my kids, but what I’ve learned since they all went back to school is that it is OK, even healthy, to miss them. I took one look at the moms around me all giving the “it’s going to be OK. You’ll have fun and make lots of new friends” speech.
I thought about giving the same speech to my daughter, but thought better of it. She didn’t care about making new friends or having fun at school. In that moment all she wanted was to go home with me, and all I wanted was to go home by myself. So what did I do?
Well, for once I put my needs first. I hugged my daughter and told her I would see her after nap time. Then I walked her through the maze of crying kids and distraught parents and handed her off to her teacher. I took a deep breath, but try as I might I couldn’t resist taking a glance back to check on her as I walked away. My eyes locked with the teacher’s and she nodded at me. It was all good.
If you are one of the moms at drop off that engages in the long goodbyes, I promise you this does more harm than good. Most of the time as soon as you leave, your child stops crying and forgets about you until it’s time to go home. (I worked in day care during college and this happened all the time!) When you cling, they cling. If you want your kids to be alright with you leaving, you have to show them that you are comfortable leaving them. The best way to do that is to get in and get out. Hugs, kisses, goodbye.
What’s your experience been like with dropping your kids off at school?
If you like this post you may also like, You’re A Stay At Home Mom With School Aged Kids, Now What?