Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembrance of Preschools Past

So, the new preschool thing has not been as easy for the Nut as I had anticipated.

All summer, I dropped her off at various summer camp programs and she never complained, never had any behavior issues that I heard about, nothing. So I thought, it's cool. My kid is flexible.

The first couple days of preschool, when it was only for an hour, went fine. But on Wednesday, apparently she had some minor disagreement with a girl in her class, and one of the very kind teachers gently separated them. Nutmeg came home and said her teachers were mean and she did not like her new school. Then on Thursday, a boy hit her and she hit him back, and her very kind teacher told her that they did not hit in this classroom.

After that, Nutmeg announced she was not going back to her preschool. She would be a preschool dropout.

After some talking, it became apparent that the real reason was not the meanness of her teachers or new classmates, but the fact that she dearly missed her old teacher, to whom she had really bonded. She also missed her old friends. One of her old classmates is in her new class, but it's not someone she had played with a lot last year.

Then, on Friday she had a playdate with one of her old cronies from last year. She overheard the mom and I talking about how some spots had opened up at the crony's new preschool. She haranged me about letting her change preschools and I, expecting that the whole thing would blow over, made the mistake of saying that we'd see, we'd talk about it, or something. Instead of just saying no.

On Monday, Nutmeg brought home her box of extra clothes, telling me right in front of the teacher that she was doing it because I was going to think about letting her change schools. Tuesday seemed to go a little better despite the fact that she was coming down with a cold. We had explained to her that she was not going to be switching schools. It wasn't raining Tuesday, so her class got to go to the playground, which is her favorite thing about her new school. She also spent some time after school playing tag on the school lawn and seemed to be settling.

Then Wednesday she was way too sick to go to school. Today she was a little better but had been up so much of the night coughing that she was too tired and cranky for school.

So we'll see what next week brings. I'm thinking she's resigned to staying at her school and will gradually like it more and more as she makes friends. I'm hoping things will not start all over on Monday after five days away.

By the way, the new teacher suggested we sit down and write a card to the old teacher. The director of the new school, who stands in front and greets the kids by name every day, suggested we make a scrapbook with pictures of old friends and new.

Nutmeg refused outright to dictate a card to me, I don't know why. She's been lukewarm on the scrapbook idea, but she did help me gather some photos off the computer for printing at CVS tomorrow.

The whole thing, while not a walk in the park, has been interesting because she's showing all this new emotional complexity. I really didn't know she would miss her old school so much and it's touching. The whole ordeal also makes me dread the fact that this school is just for one year, then we have to go to a NEW new school next year for kindergarten.


Patois42 said...

The scrapbook sounds great. My youngest needed one for kindergarten. He had a really tough time with it all. Tough enough that we chatted with the school shrink. The book we made together helped him transition. I'm not saying it was an overnight success, but at least he stopped stress puking!

Kori said...

All this transition stuff is actually what I am studying in grad school. The answers for coping with it as adults are largely exactly the same as for kids, which I don't think is coincidental---deep down, we are all four years old, especially when we get moved to a new place.

If the scrapbook or card ideas aren't taking with Nutmeg, you could try any other idea that honors her past experience. The idea is to acknowledge what it was---that it was great, that she liked it, etc.---without forcing the transition of "but now you are in this new place, and that is going to be fine/great/better/okay/etc." If she has the space to have an ending (i.e., I went to a different school, it was good, I miss my teacher.), the distractions of the new place will soon help her make a new beginning on her terms.

Or at least that is what my fancy Northwestern education is teaching me. Meanwhile, my kid has asked to be in diapers and drink from her "sippy cup bottle" this week while she copes with her switch to preschool. Obviously, I'm no expert!

Give those girls a squeeze from me.

Becky said...

Poor babe! And all of this childcare/nursery school/preschool stuff is hard on mama too, that's for sure. All this advice is great, I think. Here's hoping she'll settle a little better soon.