Preschool Scaries


preschoolAt a family reunion this summer, my cousin, whom I hadn’t seen in ten years, asked if my daughter was in preschool. And she then was positively dismayed when I said she wasn’t. She couldn’t hide the look of shock on her face and attempted to recover by asking how old she was. “Three,” and relief flooded my cousin’s face. “Oh, oh. I thought she was four.”

I didn’t bother to tell her that our plan wasn’t to put her in preschool even when she was four, which she now is. But her comments stuck with me and lingered with me like my great aunt’s perfume.

The following week we were hanging out with friends, and they were swapping stories about their kids at daycare/preschool. I didn’t have many stories like those. The stench of “Am I doing this wrong? Am I failing her?” swallowed me up in a cloud.

My daughter does activities four days a week—karate, swimming, and gymnastics. She has playdates. I do a ‘morning invitation’ or open-ended activity for her with breakfast, and then we go exploring—sometimes the aisles of groceries stores, sometimes parks and museums. She’s fine. She’s great. I’d even venture to say she’s magic. She does ‘the things’—the numbers, the days of the week, the writing of the letters, etc., etc. But I can’t help but wonder what my anxiety is around these “benchmarks” for school readiness. More than anything, I want her to be silly, brave, loud, independent, and a divergent thinker. I don’t care if she can write her name. I am sure whatever very capable kindergarten teacher she has someday will likely write her name on a cubby, teach her to put a bubble in her mouth, and memorize whatever it is she needs to memorize. I am also certain that someday she will learn the thrill of groupmates that she can see each morning, the giggles over shared lunches, and a world totally separate from my own.

I guess I am stuck or perhaps joyfully landed right where I started—smack dab in the middle. There are so many pros to daycare and preschool, and there are many pros to staying home or’ homeschooling.’ So much depends on the situation, and I wish I could believe these sentences as I write them. My daughter tends to seek adult attention even in peer groups—would she be this way regardless? Who knows. Is it necessarily bad? You got me. I know that I constantly watch and compare her to her peers, and I HATE it. I want her to be her; I want me to let go of my stupid ideas of what she should be—what I should be as her mom.