Who’s the greatest mom in the whole world? Me! Me! Me! Who has the sweetest, most well-adjusted preschooler in the whole world? Me! Me! Me!
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, my daughter had a great time at her second ballet/tap class. Last week, after much anticipation and despite being dressed to the nines (dance class style), it was a bust. She cried (screamed) and sat on my lap for the entire class. This unexpected (somewhat) outcome was not only disappointing for her but sent me into a panic over whether I am adequately “socializing” her. By the time this week’s class rolled around, I was sure I’d been a terrible mom by not enrolling her in preschool at least a year ago. I should mention that she will be three in two weeks.
You’d think, after being a mom for nearly a quarter of a century, that such a small thing would not bother me. You’d think. Neither of my boys went to preschool. My oldest son, clingy from the get-go, went off to Kindergarten without a hitch. His younger brother, the child who spent a significant portion of each day shouting “I’m a big boy!”, cried for the first six weeks. Go figure. That alone should be enough for me to realize that I am not the puppet master and, more importantly, that I don’t need to be. Every child is different and will adjust to social interactions at their own pace. Preschool is not the only way for a child to learn social skills.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against preschool. I’ve just never been excited about tying the family down to a school calendar before its completely necessary. Once that happens, say goodbye to sleeping in and to spontaneous travel. I also feel confident (usually) that parents are capable of teaching a preschooler everything they need to know. Lets not forget that way back when I was a kid, Kindergarten was preschool. It wasn’t even mandatory, and it certainly wasn’t all day.
I believe the doubt in our Bohemian lifestyle crept in based on the fact that nowadays nearly every kid goes to preschool. Almost every play group we attend, there is a conversation about preschool. Which preschool is best? Which has the longest waiting list? Which one does “so and so” send her kids to? I recently had an especially unusual conversation in which an acquaintance of mine shared that she and her daughter pray every night that she gets into a particular preschool. Hey, no pressure there.
Anyway, crisis averted. My little girl is not doomed to be a social outcast forever. If bribed heavily enough, she can tolerate standing near other children and accepting direction from an adult other than me.
That should buy us at least a few more months of late bedtimes and unstructured mornings spent snuggling on the couch. Whew!