It’s been a full two months since my kids started school. By this point, you think they would be completely acclimated and asking when they could go back. Instead, they kill my mommy-free-time vibe every school day with protestations, tears, and tantrums when it’s time to leave.
School mornings unfold something sort of like this:
Me (in the most chipper voice I can summon): Woo hoo!! It’s a school day!! Aren’t you guys so excited to see all of your friends and learn cool new things?”
Them: *MOURNFUL WAILS*
Me: “Guys, school is amazing. You have so much fun once you’re there!”
Them: “We want to stay with you! We LOVE you!” *MOURNFUL FAILS*
Damn it. I am being thwarted by my own awesomeness. This is not the first time that my awesomeness has become problematic, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
Me *attempting to put on shoes while both children cling to my legs and cry loudly in my ear so that I’m enveloped in one loud tearful tornado of hell* “Okay, if you don’t cry when mommy drops you off at school, I’ll bring you lollipops when I come back to pick you up!”
And with that, my stellar parenting tactics turn off the waterworks before we all drown right there on the kitchen floor. However, it’s only a temporary fix as the seven minute drive to school causes amnesia triggering another “Oh Dear God Mommy is Going to Leave Us” episode.that no sugar-laden bribe can lure them out of.
With Olivia I had zero expectation that she would run into the classroom happily, leaving me to eat her toddler dust. I knew she would cry. I knew I would have to harden my heart to her tears and screams when I handed her over to the teacher and cheerfully promised to come back soon because mommy always comes back. Second child she is, because that separation anxiety can’t bring me down. Not completely anyway.
That said I didn’t think we would be this far in with her still acting a hot mess at drop off. On the drive to school she strings together little pitiful sentences hoping to appeal to my softer side. “Me no school” “Back home with mommy!” “I don’t like it!” Sorry, but that tuition is paid upfront, sweetheart.
Her tears are short-lived, her teacher assures me. Probably a dramatic performance solely for my benefit. Regardless, it’s beginning to wear thin.
While I had fully prepared myself for Olivia to put up a fight, AJR was the real surprise. After bothering me for weeks during the summer about going back to school the fact that he asks to stay at home has me baffled. I’ve asked him why he doesn’t like school and he has nothing to offer except putting on a full-on puppy dog face and saying “I just love my mommy!” which is sweet up to a point. He literally drags his feet once we set foot in his school. He clings to my legs and refuses to follow me into the class on occasion saying he wants his mommy.
There is only so much fake cheer a person can muster. And I’m from the Midwest where we’re naturally upbeat and nice. It’s such an emotional effort, not to mention physical effort, getting them out of the door that I’m exhausted by the time I make it back to my car kid-free. It casts a cloud over my hard-earned free time. Free time that’s usually spent cleaning or grocery shopping, but honestly that is about as free as I am going to get for a while.
The thing is, they both enjoy school once they’re there. AJR has begun telling me more about what he’s learned and regaling me with anecdotes involving his classmates. They pop up at random times and totally out of context with what we’re doing at the current moment, but it’s information! Olivia happily runs to my arms at pickup and is eager to show me her artwork. Painting is her favorite and given her rogue style of going off paper, I don’t let her do it much at home. School is her painting and messy sanctuary. Their enjoyment and overall development helps keep any guilt over teary drop-offs at bay. Though to be honest, I don’t know if I would ever feel guilty as I know the benefits of school and what it’s doing for them would by far offset any short-lived separation anxiety they may be experiencing.
This week we had a breakthrough. Twice upon picking up AJR he told me he wanted to stay at school. He was upset that I was there and removing him from the classroom. I did a double-take. Where did my stage-5 clinger go? And Olivia actually had a drop-off without tears! Yes, her lip quivered and I could tell she was on the cusp of a breakdown, but she locked it up when her teacher led her to the coveted finger paints.
It feels like a weight had been lifted. Finally my saccharine sweet insistence that school is awesome seems to be sinking in. Or maybe we just had a few good days. Either way, I was pumped to see a smile on my preschooler’s face and hoping this is going to be a new trend!