First Days at Preschool

Yes, the first week of preschool is upon us. I was sure I would be bawling, and a friend of mine was sure she would be fine. But, it’s flipped. Partly because Vivien wouldn’t allow us to leave yet. This is the “transition week,” so I’m still daydreaming about free mornings.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: vitroids

Mark took her the first two days, since I was working, so I took her today. When she was jumping in my lap during story time, I tried to at least ease her on the rug in front of me to create some space. She did leave me for a while when buckets of toys were introduced. Also, we took the bus to school, which was a big hit, and ate Mexican food for lunch nearby, which made us both smile.

But come Monday, Mark and I will hang out for a bit and then try to bail to go to work. Mark says a friend told him to make it a game when we leave her at school on Monday. That the kid should push us out the door, with us saying, “Come on, push Mommy out the door!”

That might work for a more aggressive, independent kid. Not sure. But I’mย just trying to sack up for leaving while she is crying. It’s not like I’m leaving her at a Russian orphanage, right? Moms that have gone through this already, do you have any strategies?

18 thoughts on “First Days at Preschool

  1. Here’s a few things you could try, that I found was helpful in the past:
    1.) Send your child to school with a picture of your family so she can look at it if she gets scared during the day.
    2.) The night before school, talk about what is going to happen at school the next day. Remind her that after you or your husband tell her, “I love you” (or whatever) that she will get to go to do some awesome things at school all by herself and that mommy and daddy will get to go to work by themselves. But then, even more enthusiastically (this is the key) say–“but after school is over, I cannot wait for you to tell me everything about your day!”

    I don’t know…it worked for us!

    let me know how it goes!

  2. First of all, I just discovered you and this site. I watched almost all of the Vlogs at once. ( I didn’t have time to watch the rest, since I had a two year old who was hungry…the nerve) just kiddin.
    Anyway I LOVE this site, and you are saying exactly what I’m thinking. I read Dooce too! My eight year old daughter loves all the Daily Chuck pictures.
    My suggestion is to just remember this…. if you linger too long, she will cry longer.
    My daycare teachers told me that my kids stopped crying almost instantly when I was out of sight. Good luck!

  3. Love your stuff Daphne! Watching your Vlog on my Ipod is the highlight of this stay at home mom’s whole day ๐Ÿ™‚ My daughter had little trouble with separation for preschool but both my sons did; I never found a tried and true method. However, I found that they had less trouble when their Dad brought them; maybe he didn’t give off the “Mommy Guilt” scent!

    It will all pass and you will look back on this with a wistful grin as your preteen tells you she wants to go the mall alone!

  4. These are all great. Thank you. She did better today. Let me walk out of the room for a while. I actually felt like, “hey, what’s going on in there? I feel left out.” I like the picture idea and I do wonder if dad would be a better dropper offer.
    Thanks all for the props. I needed them today. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Absolutely, Viv will stop crying pretty much after you leave. My daughter was about Viv’s age when we did the whole Mother’s Day Out thing. And BOY would she put on a show for me. The teacher (strong, wonderful woman I will never forget!) assured me all was fine. Also, there was a window I could look through and SEE that my Frannie was fine.

    However, you should be prepared that when you return, and she sees you, she may start screaming her head off as if she suddenly remembers “Hey! Yeah, this is what I am supposed to be doing when I see her here.’ This was horrifying for me as all the other mommies (you know how we judge) looked at me as though my child was terrified to go with me. So, after about 2 weeks of this, I started to hug my screaming child while whispering “I have candy in the car for you….” This started a 3 year long habit of expectation and caused me to lose my Mother of the Year Award forever.

    So there ya go.

  6. Hey Daphne,

    Our daughter is on her second preschool, and, for me, it never gets any easier. . . she started preschool at 2, and used to literally be pulled screaming and crying from my arms by the room aide so that I could exit. That was too emotionally draining, so then I started trying to arrive earlier, and “transition” her out by sitting and playing with her for a bit. After a while it was OK, but the more disturbing trend was that she would, similar to Lynne’s story, start hysterically crying when she saw me — but not in an “i’m afraid of you” kind of way, more like a “thank god how could you have left me here” kind of way. We realized that this place was not the right place for her (lots more to that story, none of it germane here), so now, at 2 1/2, she’s starting a new place. She’s 1 month into it, and while she’s OK going most mornings, I still get the occasional “i don’t WANT to go to school” in the morning, and I, too, try to cheerfully cover up my guilt and dis-ease over the fact that i have to go to work and cannot just stay home and make her my only priority by insisting “oh, no, Jordan, Miss Claire is going to MISS you if you don’t go to school today.”

    Our current ritual, which seems to work OK, is for me to arrive earlier than planned, spend 5-10 mins playing with her and lubricating her interaction with some of the other kids, and then go through my “ritual” good-bye: huge hug, followed by my telling her to have a Tony the Tiger GGGRRREEEaaat day (same ritual pertains if my husband brings her in, we just do it in the driveway of our house instead of the schoolroom).

    She never cries when I leave at this school, but i have found if I try to “dump and run,” she gets very clingy and emotional, even if the aides jump in and redirect her away from me. I work 30 mins away from my home, so usually, my husband, who works from home, takes her in — and from his accounting, he has a similar experience, although I do think she knows how to work the “mommy-guilt” button (without even knowing that’s what she’s doing necessarily).

    So, to sum up, 1) make sure you have the right place for her; and 2) if 1 is solid, then just do the best you can to minimize your heartache, let your husband drop off as much as possible so that you don’t have to bear witness, and and 3) do as many pick-ups as possible, when your daughter will yell “Mommy!!!!!” and run into your arms like she’s filming an allergy medicine commercial in a field of poppies. That’s what I try to do.

    PS – found you from dooce, agree that you are different in tone, but also agree that it’s not a bad thing. I too watched the vlogs during a bout of insomnia the other night, and, too, laughed out loud during a few (the hire a hooker to distract the husband so that you can go to home depot and buy what you want rang SOOO unbelievably true in our house). I also have to agree that I wasn’t laughing about the “come to class” moms video which communicated a judgment (whether intentional or not) about 1) moms enrolling kids in tons of classes; and 2) not caring enough to show up and support them. I’m a lawyer and work full-time. We had a nanny for the first 2 years of my daughter’s life, and she loved taking my daugher to music and gym classes. I literally couldn’t get in without making her feel displaced, and I didn’t want to show up like a third wheel. Also, the music class discouraged changing the primary care provider who attended because the children apparently recognize the different vibe and react differently when new people are there. I still ended up attending one day because the nanny was out, and, as predicted, my daughter was (according to everyone else in the class) completely not herself. she sat in my lap, clinged like a tree monkey and wouldn’t participate in anything. Moms were coming up to me and saying they couldn’t believe it was the same little girl…

    If you haven’t read it, i highly recommend Mommy Wars, which is a collection of essays on motherhood and career that really gets at why we, as mommies, feel so comfortable judging all the other mommies and their career/parenting choices. I’m not clear you at all intended to provoke this kind of reaction, but from what i’ve seen a few others felt the same way, so in the interests of dialogue, thought i’d share my reaction. I actually think your vlog was motivated out of concern for the allegedly abandoned children… that they would feel their parents don’t care about them. . . but at the end of the day, we don’t always know what goes on in, or outside, a family and I think we shouldn’t judge it until seeing first hand, for ourselves, whether there’s a basis for concern about something like that.

    I think you’re very funny, and your sweetspot is highlighting the “we’re all thinking it” stuff we experience that is good spirited and “we’re all part of the same tribe” in tone — not divisive like the “come to class” vlog was. Just my opinion — i’ll keep checking you out, for sure.

  7. I do the quick kiss, “have a great day,/can’t wait to see you later” and bolt. I think the WORST thing for you, your child and the teacher is to hang out for a while. It really annoys the teacher (because you’re a distraction in the class) and doesn’t really send the right message to your child.

    My girls will usually have the hardest time on a Monday, but typically don’t cry much. If they do cry, the tears are all dried up by the time I get to my car! I firmly believe that they have FUN at school and learn SO MUCH more than what I would ever think to teach them if I was a SAHM.

  8. Lisa, sounds like you got a nerve struck – but I am sorry, I think Daphne is right. Parents should attend. Kids will remember. It’s important that mom and dad BE THERE. I still remember my mom sending the rent-a-nanny to school with me for THE MOTHER’S DAY POEM RECITAL. Yeah – seriously. I had to read my poem written espcially for my mom to….some strange babysitter. Because Mom was in Cabo.

    I’m 43 now. I guess my issues are my own.

  9. Oh, Daphne, here’s to a better week next week! And I’m a new Dooce cross-over myself. God bless the banner ads!

  10. Lynne, the tragedy plus time rule applies to your anecdote. Cause that made me laugh. I don’t blame you for that sticking under your craw. I’m still not over when my family left me in daycare when I was 4 so they could go to Disneyland with my fun cousins. My sister gave me a Mickey purse.
    But, I know a few people at various places on this site mentioned being stung by chastising moms who don’t come to the classes. There are hard working moms who are stretched. The mom we were targeting in that class was no working class gal. And you see the difference in the kids. Also, mom’s can be great and we can be bitches. which was also my point.

  11. You’re going to think I’m awful, but I am a preschool teacher, and I let the parents know beforehand that on the first day of school, I kick out all the parents after fifteen minutes. (We’ve already met at a local park for ice cream and to get to know one another, and we’ve already had open house in my classroom before the first day.)

    Your child is now part of a larger family — a school family — and day one is the time to start building the connections and love that will get us through the year together.

    It really helps if the parent shows nothing but happiness and calm contentment that her child is going to be at a great preschool and have a wonderful time there. Parental fears freak out small children and make their fears magnified.

    Oh, and it really is true that your child stopped crying two minutes after you left. :o)

  12. Lynne – i feel for you, and without a doubt agree that parents should attend school events to the extent they are able…particularly ones dedicated to the parent child relationship. BUT… i didn’t take Daphne’s vlog to be about those obviously painful experiences (my heart goes out to you, reading something you’d written especially for your mommy, with no mommy there to read it to), but rather, more the MIA “never comes to gymboree” moms. And, I guess I still think that my daughter does not feel like i’m not watching or paying attention to her because I let her have an hour a week of special time with her nanny or her father, or a special aunt or cousin – particularly when she’s under the age of 2. I think the more adults loving and caring for our children, alongside us, the better we all are for it.

    Interesting perspective on the lingering parent. . . I only drop off once in a while, but when I do, I typically just meld into the class and try to get my daughter playing with the other kids. I spend a fair amount of time interacting with the other children, and facilitating group activity, helping wash hands etc. — and my daughter’s teacher is always been really friendly and seemed extremely appreciative of the extra hands….but now i’m wondering if maybe, deep down, it bugs her. I’ll never know, and can only do what feels right. And it feels right for me to spend a little time watching and helping, mingling and getting to know the other little ones that are making up such a large part of my daughter’s day. (Plus, it really helps to understand which kid is Mia and which is Myra, which little boy likes to throw rocks and which likes to steal toys because I can suddenly understand who the heck my daughter is talking about when she tells me all about her day!!)

    Why do we feel more comfortable judging women as mommies than we do anyone or anything else?? I cannot think of another arena into which so much sanctimony is brought as readily…. why is that???

  13. Daphne and Lisa, thanks for your responses. Daphne, I am glad you got a laugh out of it – that was the intent. Absolutely right the the tragedy + time rule applies. Hell, if it didn’t I would be a complete emotional cripple. But, really I do find it kind of ridiculously amusing as an adult. Especially now that I can see my mother as a human and see that she had her reasons and needs for going…and it’s no Terms of Endearment kinda situation. I love my mom much…mistakes and all.

    Not to totally hi-jack this post topic, but I do agree with you, Lisa, that mommies is bitches. I, along with most of my friends, am a complete liberal. Very open-minded. But when it comes to motherhood, become judgmental and closed-minded in the blink of an eye. I was completely shocked when I was first exposed to this behavior and even more so when I willingly and naturally joined in. Getting through my daughter’s preschool years was a try and tear-filled time. And I’m not talkin about drop off and pick up time, that’s for sure.

    So, I can’t answer your question, but I would love it Daphne would start a whole new discussion.

  14. Lisa, oh dear, I didn’t mean to imply that secretly preschool teachers wish those mommies would all go away. I kick out the parents on the FIRST day to put an end to those prolonged goodbyes, and it has always worked well for me. Within a month I’ve got — and welcome with open arms — as many parent volunteers as I can get. And I do have moms who come in and hang out and help out at the beginning of the morning and I think it’s wonderful.

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