The Side-Effects of Preschool

Baby Girl 2 years ago…

Saturdays are about parenting and babies over here at More Cowbell. This week, it’s also about Fast Draft, the challenge I’m in where we try to write 20 pages a day. Because my twenty pages are looming, I’ll keep this brief.

Baby Girl started pre-school a few months back and I’ve had mixed feelings about it.

One the one hand, she’s GONE all day!! Out of my hair, not underfoot, away during the high-productivity times of day. *throws confetti*

On the other hand, she’s GONE all day…and I miss her terribly, and wonder what she’s doing. And we get regular opinions from others about her behavior.

Hubby and I were talking about the pros and cons of pre-school at dinner.

In the “thumbs up” column:

  • Baby Girl eats so much better, it’s like having a different kid.
  • She’s being exposed to other kids, something she doesn’t get at home.
  • She cleans up her toys without prompting now.
  • Her godfather works at her school and he loves  having her there.
  • We miss her and want to spend quality time with her when she comes home.
  • Other people besides us have influence on her behavior.

In the “thumbs down” column:

Other people besides us have influence on her behavior.

Baby Girl today…

Psychologically, this was a big deal for me. As a parent, you want your kid to have lots of experiences, opportunities and new friends…but it’s scary as hell.

It’s hard to let go.

It’s hard to wonder what she’s doing all day.

It’s hard to let my only  baby grow up.

And it’s hard to pay others to help me parent better (because trust me, the pre-school teachers regularly  give us suggestions).

My mother always told me that “her job as a parent was to make sure I could live without her.”

Considering she passed away when I was 35 years-old, this turned out to be a damn good goal.

I think of my mom whenever I get the “I’m doing this all wrong” parenting blues. Whenever my daughter’s pre-school teachers tell me “I need to make her do what I tell her to do” or that “she’s stubborn.” (Like this was a big surprise.)

These are good qualities in the long run. I want a child who knows her own mind and is stubborn enough to make her thoughts and dreams into reality. So, I smile and thank them, and continue to try to be the best parent I can. And I try not to let that nasty “you’re doing this all wrong” voice get the best of me.

How do you handle the “letting go” part of parenting? Pre-school…middle school…college… Which has proved to be the most difficult stage for you as a parent (so far)? Enquiring minds love to know these things here at More Cowbell!

Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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27 Responses to The Side-Effects of Preschool

  1. MarinaSofia says:

    Although both my sons went to nursery part-time (then later full-time), when the younger one started school, it was like a blow to the stomach. I didn’t expect to feel so bereft. I think I stepped back and saw him growing up, becoming independent for the first time. Two years on, it’s still a struggle at times (like when he won’t let me kiss him goodbye in front of the school gates anymore). But it’s a learning curve for children and parents both!

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Marina, what a sweet story. Thanks so much for sharing! I’m trying not to think about those future times when my little lovebug will want no hugs or kisses…

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  2. Julie Glover says:

    They tell you how to parent? I find that odd. Making observations and explaining how they handle her at preschool–I would expect that.

    Letting go at that early age was definitely hardest, even though it’s never easy. I remember sobbing after taking my kids to kindergarten. I now stand toe-to-toe with a son who’s got a couple of inches on me, and it’s weird looking UP to talk to him. That makes me ever aware that I only have a few years left with this boy in my house. The other one’s not far behind.

    I think good moms often have that “you’re doing this all wrong” voice. But the fact that you wonder, evaluate, seek advice, try this and that, means that you are an attentive, loving mom. I appreciate the Bible verse, “Love covers a multitude of sins.”🙂 And by the way, I have one of those stubborn kids, and I love the flip side of that being perseverence.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      They make *suggestions/recommendations* – such as the above and recommending we move to a big girl cup only. And they tell us how things are going at school. I really like them, and it’s not like she isn’t stubborn as hell with them. But yes, there have been things where I looked at my husband and said, “I didn’t prepare her for this!!”

      I love your comments – ESPECIALLY to my Saturday posts…they help that inner voice feel much better. And yay to perseverence. My gal’s gonna have it in spades.

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  3. Like you, I have an only. Unlike Baby-Girl, until 1st grade, he was never gone all that long: maybe 9 am-noon, three days a week. All my friends’ kids were his class, and I trusted the parents and the teachers so if they told me there was a problem, I listened because sometimes we don’t want to hear there is a problem. There is independent and there is the kid who won’t join the reading circle and roams around distracting other kids. By ignoring that behavior, no one is getting what they need.

    My cousin has a disaster daughter. She had numerous meltdowns during my son’s bar mitzvah. Both parents kind of laughed at their daughter’s behavior. The reality is they didnt know what to do.

    I think the question one always should ask is: If I do (or don’t do) X, am I helping or hurting my child? Because I think parents of only children can easily over-dote, thus creating difficult children with a sense of entitlement: what do you mean the world doesn’t revolve around me?

    To counter this, I created an imaginary daughter. So when my son screamed: “Mommy! Come look!” I imagined I was nursing her. So he learned to wait. And guess what? He learned to entertain himself without my having to run to see everything. And what good would i have been doing to run and praise his millionth LEGO structure? By making him wait, he learned patience. And often he learned to figure out whatever problem he was having, too. Because he keptvat it while i was doing other things. That imaginary daughter has been awesome for a lot of situations. I believe it is my job to give my son roots and wings. He is borrowed. Like your mother said, it is my job to make sure he is prepared for the world. So far, so good.

    Good luck, Jenny.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’ll bet you’d have liked for your cousin to have had an “imaginary daughter!” I don’t approved of them allowing her to overshadow your son’s event – I feel for you.🙂

      That being said, i love your last paragraph. I too think our children are borrowed, even though it breaks my heart to let her go from one stage to the next.

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      • You are doing great with BabyGirl! And honestly, I didn’t even hear or see the meltdown. It was reported to me. I was too busy beaming from ear to ear. Reports on bar mitzvah coming up soon.

        Best weekend of my life.

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  4. K.B. Owen says:

    Oh, Jenny, it IS so hard to let go. I feel ya on this one, believe me. And your mom was absolutely right: the ultimate goal of parenting is that your kids develop into self-sufficient adults (I would also add happy and kind to that goal).

    How to get there? IMHO, by giving them plenty of opportunities (over years and years) to practice self-control, until it’s a well-developed, internalized skill by the time they are adults. We parents are the temporary stand-ins for that interior responsible voice they will acquire – the one that will tell them to get up for work when they don’t feel like it, or to do their laundry because they are out of clean clothes. We teach them a whole heck of a lot more things, of course, but I’m just addressing the discipline issue. Folks can have a mistaken idea of the point of parental discipline. It’s not really about how well/often you can get your child to comply with your rules. Instead, when you exert your parental authority, consider it another chance for her to try her skill at setting aside what she impulsively wants to do (e.g., move on to the next toy), and instead do a non-preferred task (cleaning up the first toy), because it’s the right thing to do, and you are in charge of reminders.

    Preschool is fabulous for boiling down discipline into just a few simple rules, and allowing her to see the effect of NOT following rules when there’s a group involved (effect: chaos). In fact, you and hubster can talk with her at home about what YOUR family rules are (she may even have some suggestions), and draw the parallels to preschool. When my kids were little, we’d make a goofy what-if game about it and brainstorm crazy scenarios: “What if you never put your dirty clothes in the hamper?” “The hamper wouldn’t get brought down for the clothes to be washed, then the clothes would fill the floor, then we’d be swimming through dirty socks, then the door wouldn’t open, then the firefighters would have to come and get us out through the window…” You get the idea, LOL.

    Your preschool teachers sound like a terrific back-up for what you’re doing, but remember – they are only backup. You know best.

    Now I’m off for a walk on the beach (last day before we leave tomorrow). Good luck with your 20 pages today, Jenny! Catch ya on Monday, when it’s back to the grindstone! **Hugs**

    Kathy

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      We have three very simple rules, which I’m sure you’ve heard here before. She’s really rocking it on this growing up thing, but I still hate to see her be so independent of us.

      Enjoy the beach! Which one are you at?

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  5. drimhof says:

    Hey Sis,
    You did a great job guiding me through the years. You always had good advice, whether I wanted to hear or not, and in the end I knew you were right. You have been by my side at critical moments and though you can be a tuff big sis when I need it, you always give me room to grow into myself and to walk out my story. I know you are a great Mom because you have been a great sister.
    Sister Hugs!

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  6. Jim Hansen says:

    Cousin Jenny,
    I thought I was the only Hansen who was stubborn. It is a double-edged sword so you do have to learn to handle it with care.
    I agree with the famous Dr. Imhof’s comment- “you are a great Mom” and so was your Mom.
    Hugs to you, your Sis, Cory, and Baby Girl,
    Jim Hansen

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  7. Jenny! Kudos to you for letting go and getting your little girl in pre-school. I noticed all the “pros” had to do with her, and all the “cons” had to do with you…. What an awesome job of you to not project your feelings onto your precious baby girl…. It’s hard for so many parents to let go… I’ll bet your momma would be so proud of you for the woman and mother you have become! (((hugs)))
    I have a harder time letting go now with my 16 year old than I did when she was 5… that may seem strange, I certainly cannot explain it…. I think it’s because she is growing up (too fast!). Hell, she just got her driver’s license a month ago and I had to really take deep breaths when she went off by herself in the car.
    Enjoy the rest of your weekend!😀

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  8. People do need to be stubborn to survive in this world. If you think about it, every quality we have can get good or bad, depending on the situation. I wouldn’t like them telling me how to parent though. I had a nurse tell me I should “make” my toddler talk. Right. Like that is possible. It pays to know when to stand firm and when to avoid a power struggle you will lose. LOL! And you’ll learn. You sound like a wonderful mom to me. My nest is empty and my best advice is to enjoy the time and realize that you can’t be perfect. You can only be you. And that’s enough.🙂

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      LOL…”Make” your toddler talk. Good one. I hope you laughed your ass off. We’re enjoying every moment we have with her and wishing the time didn’t pass so quickly.

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  9. Which was the hardest? Wow, Jenny, they are all hard. I handed over my 7-week-old son to the daycare worker to return to work after a high-risk pregnancy and c-section. I cried all day. When this same son moved 1000 miles away the minute he turned 18, you guessed it, I cried all day.

    Your mom had it spot-on, though. When Eldest Son managed to work, get laid off, find work again, and never once complained or asked for money, I was over the moon proud of him.

    You sound like a great mom, and I’m sure your mom is proud of you.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      WOW, you are a brave mommy, to hand him over so soon. I handed him over a few days a week and thought that was hard.

      p.s. I’m proud of your Eldest son over the layoff and rehire thing, and he’s not even mine!

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  10. gingercalem says:

    I don’t know if I’m being extra sentimental today but your post along with the comments have given me a lump in my throat. We are approaching a huge transition year in our household. Our ‘baby’ is off to middle school, our middle is off to high school and my first baby, stands 6 feet tall, drives, has a job and will be a junior. How did this happen?

    I can remember his first day of kindergarten. We didn’t do preschool or daycare or even babysitters. So, leaving him that first day was huge. I remember the school had a morning chapel service the first day and another boy sat next to him and sort of ‘breathed’ on my son’s face. Like, just blew his germs on him. I looked at my husband and said, “We can’t leave him here.”

    But we did. My husband cried more than I did in the car on the way home.

    Through the years with all 3 I have tried to forgive myself for my parenting mistakes and stand firm on what I knew I was doing right, even when others didn’t think so.

    Your Baby Girl is blessed and cherished and will grow up basking in that truth. HUGS!

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      There’s a part of me that wishes desperately for more babies, and a part of me that is happy I only have to go through this worry ONE time! Thanks for the sweet comment, Ginger!🙂

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  11. The bottom line for good parenting is that we do the best we can all the time. Some days may be better than others but we never drop the ball. As I watch my children raising their children now I’m filled with pride that we at least did most things well as parents! You will have that day too, Jenny. In the meantime,keep giving Baby Girl all that good lovin’ and enjoy every moment. They pass WAY too quickly!

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  12. Diana Beebe says:

    We went through all the same emotions, even when both girls stayed with their grandparents (no daycare for them). I had to learn that they were getting everything they needed. School was harder for me than preschool was. Get involved as much as possible so you know the kids they go to school with.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Piper Bayard gave me the secret weapon, Diana: take donuts to the school secretary. She said as they start school, it totally gives you an ally in the office. LOL…

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  13. Karen McFarland says:

    I don’t care what age they are Jenny, it is still hard to let go. We gave birth to them and it is only natural that we miss them when they’re either at pre-school, primary school, college, or like me dealing with my oldest son married now for two and a half years and my youngest son here now visiting from Phoenix and leaving this afternoon, in which I will cry my heart out. The best thing when our kids grow up is that our relationship is able to shift from parent to friend. Oh, it is the best, most awesome thing that has happened for us as parents. Yes, letting go is tough, but the rewards can be worth it in the long run.🙂

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  14. Oh gosh . . . it really gets easier, at least for me, as they age. I have three, each a year apart. For a few years there, it was pretty hairy, and I was grateful for every minute I had to myself. But I sure did miss them.

    Even now, I wave goodbye when the school bus leaves . . . and grin when it returns in the afternoon.

    But wowie. I am also tearing my hair out this summer!

    Hope your week is a good one.

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