I believe the last time I posted, things at preschool were going well. DD seemed okay, albeit reluctant, with letting me leave the classroom and hang out in the hall. Then, last Monday I let her know I’d be actually leaving the school grounds. She cried, I stayed until she was okay with me going. Again she was reluctant but said it was okay, but I watched from the observation room and she was fine, laughing and playing with the teacher. I waited for some time to ensure she was okay, then I took DS for a walk across campus to visit my department.
According to the teachers, DD was totally fine. Didn’t ask for me or go looking for me. She greeted me as usual, and I thought “we’ve done it!”. I was so proud, I was beaming, the teachers were congratulating me….and then when we got home things started to go awry.
I anticipated that DD would be clingy, needing to reconnect with me after being separated from me. So I immediately played with her when we got home. We did lots of wrestling: physical play that helps to reconnect us. We read books and played games. Exhausted as I was, I knew I had to do this. But it kept on coming. I couldn’t take a break without her coming after me. I tried to sit and watch the news while eating dinner, and she started turning the TV off and on. Then she got a book and a chair and placed herself right in front of the TV. Finally she came over and started jumping on me while I was trying to eat. I lost it and had to get DH to take over while I gave myself a time out. I do this extremely rarely, when I fear I’m going to either yell at her or even hit her. Yes, I admit it, sometimes I want to hit my DD. Stress is an evil thing. Of course, my separation frightens DD and she ends up screaming and crying for me desperately on the other side of the door. In a minute I had collected myself. But basically this pattern went on all night.
I realize that my not being able to handle it, and basically bailing out with my “time outs”, made it all worse. But I know inside myself I did as much as I could. I’m only human, and I’ve been suffering from insomnia pretty bad lately, not to mention DS has molars coming out. I hate feeling that way, like I want to scream at my DD. But I didn’t, so I suppose I can pat myself on the back for recognizing it and removing myself from the situation. It didn’t help that I owed Dad a report (a paying client) and didn’t get any chance to write it that night.
Anyways, this behaviour was unusual for DD, and I felt anger from her. It seemed apparent to me that she couldn’t handle the separation from me. She may have learned to put on a stiff upper lip, but she obviously wasn’t happy, despite seeming to enjoy her day at school. I think she felt abandoned by me, and was lashing out at me for it. DH wasn’t sure, until the next morning…
He offered to take the kids out so I could get Dad’s report done. He had a list of DD’s fave activities planned. She got as far as getting ready to head out the door, then had a change of mind. Suddenly, she didn’t want to go. Her reaction was pretty strong. She wanted to stay with me (she had known I wasn’t coming all morning). I followed them into the elevator, down to the parking garage. She was crying desperately, begging to stay with me, and I felt in my heart she needed to stay with me. So she did. To her credit, she was very quiet and played well while I did my work.
DH called from his outing with DS and he was convinced. She is never like this, not this clingy to me. We agreed that pulling her out of preschool seemed the only reasonable course of action. I called the school and told them what had happened. I said we were going to take the rest of the week off and see how it went. But DD is still adamant that she doesn’t want to go to school anymore. So I will be officially withdrawing her this week.
What’s interesting, is that the evening of the day when she’d begged to stay home with me, DH and I had a date. MIL came to watch the kids, and DD was FINE with it. Similarly, I went to my knitting group the next evening and she was fine with that, too. So I’m not exactly sure what the difference was, except…that I told her we didn’t have to go to school this week. Hmm, I just realized that now. Since then, she’s been pretty much her normal self. She is still mildly clingy – always wants to hold my hand whenever we are out, stuff she didn’t do before. But otherwise she’s the DD I know and love.
I’ll never really know what the problem was. I honestly don’t think it was a specific incident, as she’s never mentioned it. She just talks about having a general dislike of school and the other kids. While it seems apparent that she doesn’t want me leaving her there, I think there is obviously more to it than that. I think the teachers may also be close with their observation that she is moving away from solitary play, but may be having a hard time dealing with the other children (she’s fine with them informally, but doesn’t engage in play with any of them). So I suspect that she’s going through this normal process and is having a tough time of it. Some might say it’s all the more reason to keep her there, but I don’t believe that. I think it’s all the more reason to keep her close to me. The teachers aren’t able to monitor each social interaction between 20 kids, and I’ve already seen examples of ones that could have used an adult’s guidance. Kids learn social skills, including how NOT to be hurtful to others, from those with experience, not from their peers. I consider myself lucky to be able to keep her home and close by while she goes through this important stage of development. The bottom line is, she doesn’t need school, she is only 3, and this was all supposed to be fun for her. It isn’t, so we’re leaving.
We start attending the homeschoolers preschool group this Thursday. Not only am I welcome, but so is DS. 🙂