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Off to the wolves….

January 4, 2012

My parents didn’t send us to preschool.  We stayed at home with my mom up until we entered kindergarten.  Bryan and I had planned on doing the same with our own children.

However, plans changed recently when we learned that our school district has full day kindergarten.  The more we considered the fact that Sidney would be going from being at home with me – all day, every day…..straight into a full day of school next fall, the more we realized that it would be cruel to expect her to handle such a transition with ease.  So, I began to do a little bit of research on possibly sending her to preschool for a couple of days each week this semester.  If the school systems aren’t going to offer us the (much-preferred) half- day kindergarten as a form of transition for our kids, then we knew that we needed to set up a transition ourselves.

What we landed on was this.  Right across the street from Grandma Steinborn’s library is a small church that holds preschool two days a week for a couple of hours.  Its tuition is affordable.  They incorporate biblical teaching into their curriculum.  One of the teachers is Sidney’s story hour leader at the library, so she is familiar with her and likes her very much.   The other teacher is a very kind woman who has known our family for a very long time.  And last but not least, the preschool is within shouting distance of Grandma’s workplace.  This really puts my mind at ease.  Knowing that Grandma is nearby in case there is a problem sure does feel good.  Also, this greatly helps with transportation.  Sidney can just ride home from work with Grandma on her preschool days.

Today was Sidney’s first day of class.  As I pulled out my camera to capture her with her new backpack on (thanks to Aunt Carly & Uncle Luke), I had a brief, sinking feeling in my gut.  Then, as soon as we arrived at the church and entered the building, the feeling resurfaced.  It crept up on me.  Thankfully, I was able to quickly take care of everything that I needed to with the teacher and sneak out of there without any apprehension from Sidney – after making sure that she was busy and distracted with activities.  She has never been good at witnessing us “leaving” her.  I was bummed that I didn’t get to tell her goodbye, but I also knew that if I had done that it could have caused a breakdown.  I was a bit teary-eyed when I made it to the van.  I wanted to slap myself because, doggone it, it’s just PRESCHOOL!   If I can’t handle this, how in the world will I handle it next fall when she heads off to the real deal?  <sigh>

Like I said, I snapped a photo of her before she left for her first day of school.  I thought I would share that with you today.  She looks like such a big girl.  My sweet Sidney.  And next year, she is off to kindergarten.

This afternoon, I heard the bus drive through our neighborhood to drop off the children who live on our street.  On most days,the sound of the bus driving by catches my attention because I just can’t believe that if we had sent Sidney to kindergarten this year, that would be the time when she would be unloading from the bus.   I always think, “Wow – she would have been gone that long???”  I think of all of the things that the kids and I have done together up until that point in the day.  It always seems like a long time for someone her age to be away from home…….working and learning.  The sound of the bus going by in the afternoons is  a daily reminder to me that we made the right decision by not sending Sidney to school this past August.  We went a bit against the grain by not doing so.  But, that doesn’t bother us.

We knew that if we had sent Sidney to school last August, she would have been one of the younger ones in her class.  Knowing what we do about Sidney, we were sure that she would have done fine academically in spite of that.  She is a bright little girl.  However, we weren’t sure how she would have handled such a big transition from full days with Mom to full days at school as a young 5 year old.  We feared that she might not be emotionally ready for that.  On top of that, the girl has witnessed more than her fair share of changes in the recent past.  In the months leading up to the start of the 2011 school year, we presented her with a lot of changes.  We gave her two new sisters.  We moved.  We switched churches.  Those were the biggies.  But, there were also some small changes thrown in there as well.  To expect her to add a full day of kindergarten last August on top of all of these other big life changes wasn’t fair.  For all of these reasons and more, we decided wholeheartedly that we should wait to send her until she turned six.

I’m simply in no hurry to send Sidney (or the other kiddos) off to school.  It’s something that I fear.  I’ve heard many mothers say that sending children off to school can feel like sending them “off to the wolves”.   I totally get that.  I’m sure that I will feel the same when August of 2012 rolls around.

Thankfully, some of my fears dissipated today after Sidney came home from her first preschool experience.  As she was riding home with Bryan, he asked her how she liked her new school.  As she happily strapped herself into her seat and buried her head into the ipod for the ride home, she casually said, “Loved it.”  That was all.

Granted, a full day of kindergarten in a public school is going to be a heck of a lot different than a couple of hours in a Christian preschool that is run by two of the nicest ladies you could ever meet.  However, it was still a great comfort to know that her first school experience today was a positive one.  I’m really hoping that these next few months will prove to be very good for Sidney – and for us – as we prepare to send her “off to the wolves” next year.

I was proud of her in so many ways today – for so many things……

1) For coming home with a slew of completed papers and drawings, showing great effort on her part.

2) For making a new friend.

3) For being responsible with her backpack and toy that she brought along with her.

4) For choosing white milk instead of chocolate because her mommy said so………even though the others all chose chocolate : )   When she told me that, I didn’t know whether to die laughing or just give her a big squeeze.  She was so proud of that.  It was her first day of school and she was already experiencing and overcoming peer pressure!  Ha!

5) For bravely going and staying without tears.

(Now, if her mom can just learn to follow suit on item number five, we will be good to go.)

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