My youngest daughter Tatiana, age 3, started her preschool yesterday. It is such an emotional process for both of us. It was so hard for me to leave her there yesterday and to see the sadness in her eyes, the silent question: “Mommy, why are you doing this to me, don’t you still love me?”
The preschool that my children go to, is a Early Childhood Laboratory Preschool for future educators. We have a great student-teacher ration 2:1, and Tatiana has known her head teachers, from previous years, since her sister has been in the same program. So, I felt comfortable leaving Tati there, especially knowing that she knows her teachers and the classroom. So, yesterday, I stayed with her for about 15 minutes, and then I thought that teachers can probably handle the separation, so I left for 2 hours.
When I came back, I didn’t recognize my child. My funny, happy, outgoing little girl, transformed into a sad child. She looked like a lost puppy, who gave up hope for life, she didn’t cry, no, she was just seating there without any emotions on her face. When she saw me coming back, she ran to me, hugged me very tight, as she never hugged before, and started to cry like she never cried before. It was so hard for me to keep my emotions under control.
When we came home, I gave her a present to celebrate her First Day of School, hoping that it will smooth out the experience. For the rest of the day, I was trying to be as positive about her first day of school as I could. I knew her school and the teachers were wonderful, but it was still so hard for me to see my baby go through such a drastic transformation.
Today, I decided to use a different approach and I stayed with my daughter for 2 hours, I showed her all the fun things that her classroom has, I played some games with her, I read some books with her, I engaged her in the classroom activities. While I was doing it, I realized, that yesterday, it was the very first time I ever left her without me, her sister or her father. Although her sister was in the different classroom and they did get to see each other outside for an hour, it was still a huge shock for her. The stress was so big that she couldn’t think about playing with toys or games, she probably didn’t even notice more than half of the things that were present in a classroom.
Today, I left her right before the outside time, because I knew Tatiana would see her sister there and they would be together.
When I came to pick her up today, she was visibly upset, but it wasn’t like yesterday. She was sitting with her teacher reading a book, while other kids were doing circle time. I was told, that she was sad leaving her sister, so one of her teachers pulled her aside, and read her a story to comfort her. She was fine.
I am sure couple more weeks and she will be loving her school and her new friends as much as her sister does, but those first days of school are so hard on me. To see how much my child is going through and to realize that it is for her own good it is hard.
I am sure, as our children get older they are going to have more and more of those moments where we, as parents, are going to witness them struggeling, often, there would be very little that we can do for them except provide our love and support. I am also sure, that there will be moment when we would have to see our children going through some rough times, and we will have to step a side and let them grow up.
Today, I choose to be there for my little one, to be with her when she needed me, to comfort her and to guide her because I am her mom, but I know that one day I might not be able to do it.