Ending a tough day with a little magic

standard February 26, 2010 2 responses

When C woke up this morning she quietly, but very clearly, told me that she wasn’t going back to Kindergarten. No way. No how.

I was torn. I don’t like to let her quit. It was one more day. There was really no reason to give in. And yet my gut screamed to let her ditch.

My gut lost, my head won, I told her she had to go back. And then when she cried I sat on the floor with her and rocked her until her sobs subsided.

There are countless parenting books and resources, but as a mom you really only have one thing to guide you through the tough moments – your gut. There’s rarely a rational thought to back up what your instincts tell you. And often it’s really, really hard to listen to that instinct because so much goes against it. But you have to learn to respect it, because even if your gut sometimes overreacts, it’s rarely wrong.

From day one my head has liked this school and my gut has hated it. I haven’t been able to articulate what made me so uncomfortable, so we’ve gone forward with the registration process, but I have to say that this morning, as I sat on the floor, my big baby sobbing in my lap, begging me to not make her go back, my gut was doing one big “I told you so” dance.

And yet I made her go. Because you have to face your fears and you can’t let bossy girls dictate what you will and won’t do in life. As it turns out she had a great time. Came out beaming, happy, laughing. And I was glad I’d made her go, because she learned today that things don’t always turn out the way you anticipate. 

But happy smile and excited chatter didn’t make me love the school any more. In fact something happened right after I dropped her off that made me like it even less. I’d write about it, but I still can’t see past the anger to make it coherent, and there’s a slight chance that I’m overreacting and being overly emotional about what happened. So I’m leaving it alone for now. Suffice it to say that I spent the morning scrambling for other schools that we could visit. It’s well past the last hour for registration, so it was no easy feat, but I’m hopeful that I’ve found at least one other great contender in the big Kindergarten debate.

I took my much more confident daughter out for a celebratory piece of chocolate before taking her to daycare. And tonight we capped off the whole ordeal with a magical evening at Disney on Ice. It was perfect. A rare treat. An evening out late at night with both mommy and grandma. A girl’s night out of the sort they rarely get to enjoy. We came home exhausted, but happy. C was glad that her ordeal was over. I feel good that I was acting on my gut by researching different schools. Little L was just happy with her blinking fairy wings.

They are both snug in their beds and I’m headed to mine, all three of us with glitter in our hair and a lightness in our hearts that wasn’t there last night.

Kindergarten verdict after a first shadow day

standard February 25, 2010 7 responses

Back in September I started to agonize about the Kindergarten situation for C. Then M and I did a bunch of research and we visited two schools. One, a public magnet school, the other a private Montessori program. I ranted about how hard it was to pick between the two over on Silicon Valley Moms blog. (Sorry. Totally forgot to link to that.. Oops. Better late than never and all that.)

The short of it is that the public school program gave me lots of warm fuzzies, but their lack of funding and resources really worries us. Plus the parental participation requirements are astronomical and the odds of getting in are slim. The private school is small, good, has every resource that the public school doesn’t, and we can get in. But I didn’t get any warm fuzzies from it.

But I’m not the one going to Kindergarten. C is. Luckily the private school requires two shadow days as part of their registration process. Wisely I decided to set aside my reservations long enough to see what she thought about the place.

The first shadow day was today.

It didn’t go very well.

She was very excited to go, almost bouncing her way in through the front gate. She even went off with the teacher without a backwards glance. But when I picked her up she wasn’t as cheerful as I hoped.

Turns out she was teamed up with a ‘partner,’ a mentor of sorts, and the girl was… let’s say… pushy.

As we walked back to the car C told me in a quiet voice that she was a bit nervous about going back in the morning. The girl had spent the day telling her what to do, where to go, when to do stuff. She stressed her out about how long she was taking to eat her snack, and I get the feeling that she didn’t give her a lot of space to explore the classroom.

Ironic given that it’s a Montessori program.

C is a ruler follower. The teacher told her to stay close to her partner so she did, even though she spotted another girl she liked much more, even though she wanted to check stuff out on her own, even though the girl was making her very uncomfortable.

While I’ve always sworn that I’d let my kids fight their own battles and wouldn’t intervene if at all possible, as soon as I dropped her off at daycare I called the school’s office and asked that she be paired up with another child tomorrow. I hate being that mom, the one who calls and complains every time a child looks at her precious baby crosseyed. I want my kids to learn how to deal with bullies, to figure out how to make a friendship work. I want them to know how to stand on their own two feet without relying on me to fight their battles.

But she has 6 hours to fall in love with this school, and three of them were less than positive. She doesn’t have time to turn this relationship around. So I made the call. Tomorrow she’ll have another partner.

Sadly, by the time I picked her up from daycare tonight she had decided that she didn’t want to go back. Not even after I promised that she’d have a different partner. It took a while for her to explain, but she’d rather have no partner at all. She just wants to explore the place on her own, no pressures, no bossy girls telling her what to do, just a little girl finding her own footing.

I just hope I have a moment to explain that to the people at the school tomorrow and that they’re willing to listen.