Earlier this month, my daughter Annabel started preschool for the first time. I was so excited for her! She would have a few hours a week where she would be independent from her family, and she would learn and make friends and have all new experiences. I was also so excited for me. I was like, “Oh, she’s going to be in preschool two mornings a week, I am going to get so much done.”
I remember saying something just like that to my friends, and they were all silent. Now here I am, a month into preschool, and I have a bone to pick. My friends with older kids thought they were being helpful by telling me about the things to look for in a school, questions to ask the teachers, etc, but none of them truly prepared me for what to expect with a preschooler.
For example, despite all my best-laid plans, I actually get nothing done when Annie is at preschool. After I leave her in the classroom, I need to catch up on the school bulletins, chat with the other parents, and check in with the sign-up requests. When I get home, it’s time to feed my four-month-old James, then play with him and put him down for a nap. By the time he’s asleep, I have just enough time to make myself a quick lunch and then it’s back to school to pick her up. On my drive I’m always thinking, “I was going to go to the gym today! And finish my deadline! And clean!” I now realize none of those things will ever happen.
No one told me that my daughter would have overtired meltdowns for weeks. The first couple times she flipped out, I had no idea what was going on. Then one of my friends said, “Oh yeah, the post-preschool meltdown. That lasts for about a month.” THANKS FOR THE WARNING, GUYS.
I was completely unprepared for my daughter to tell me nothing about her day. I knew that teenagers are notorious for this sort of behavior, but three-year-olds? Apparently this is normal. As far as I know, she just steps into a void every Tuesday and Thursday morning.
Actually, in that void I think they have art class, because Annie comes home with approximately 1,000 pieces of art every day. I started taking pictures of each item and then tossing the hard copy to cut down on clutter, only to be rewarded with a huge crying jag of hurt feelings when Annie caught me throwing away some of her coloring in the trash. Total rookie mistake on my part…I should have waited until she was asleep to throw it all away.
The other thing Annie comes home with reliably are the annoying habits of other kids. Now, instead of eating an entire apple slice, she only takes tiny bites of the flesh, carefully avoiding the skin. When I asked her why she suddenly wasn’t eating the apple skin like she usually did, she said it was because, “The other kids at school say apple skin is gross.” Oh, delightful!
So, to the parents behind me on this path, be prepared – preschool is nothing like you are expecting. And while it’s awesome in a lot of ways, it was absolutely nothing like what I was expecting.