A lot of people in my life know how anxious I've been about having my son go to preschool. We have been almost inseparable for the past two years, excepting when he was with a very short list of trusted baby sitters or family. Now, he's out there, learning so much about how to interact with other little people.
Many friends have been asking how it's going, some who know the struggle firsthand. I never know how to properly answer that question because it's a complicated one.
After three weeks of school, the short answer is: It's going.
This may sound dramatic, but we're surviving this phase in the experience. With change, it takes any human time to adapt, and little people are good at showing raw emotion. So when I drop him off in the morning, it's crushing to see him clinging to me out of confusion and having to pull him away, even though I understand it's the best thing to do.
I feel emotionally hungover after the drop-off, with a wave of guilt coming on. Is he having an easy time playing nicely with his classmates? Will he get enough to eat at snack time? Does he still know I love him? And when I see his empty car seat, the guilt intensifies instantly. I'm human, too, and I am also still adjusting.
This past Tuesday, I had a really tough time when I went back to pick him up. A cop car with its lights on sped past me on a one lane road. The cop was in a hurry to get somewhere, and that somewhere was in the same direction as my son's school. Even though I was a mile away from school, I talked myself into a certainty that the cop was going to handle a terrible scene at the school, and, more specifically, that something awful had happened to my son. That scenario, in my mind, would have been my fault for letting him out of my sight in the first place.
Nothing out of the ordinary was going on at the school. When I walked in, the directors greeted me with the same Disney-enthusiasm they do with the kids, which always helps to calm me. In the classroom, my son was happily eating his lunch with his buddies. He was fine; I was still reeling a bit.
A big reason we wanted to send him was to encourage his learning. I try to tell him about our world, introduce him to colors, shapes and words. What's next? As some who was not familiar with childhood education, I was stumped. Good thing his teachers know what to do! He'e been learning so much - new songs, words, and even some sign language.
This newfound knowledge has backfired a bit. They've been learning about bugs and gardens this month, which has been mostly cute. Unfortunately, he has insects on the brain, so when he spots a bit of paper or something else small on the floor, he'll point to it and confidently yell, BUG!! Thanks for the panic attacks, kid. Thanks a lot.
He's getting more used to being around many other children his age and having to share. We're on a learning curve, trying to explain to him several time a day why we should calmly say "No, thank you" instead of a giant "NOOO!" and other ways we can choose to be nice to friends. Ensuring that he adjusts well is on my mind a lot.
I've been getting a lot more cuddles out of this deal when we are together. He's going through separation anxiety (or maybe it's just all of the new germs wearing him out?), and he wants to be in mommy's arms. I think I can handle that. ;-)