Thursday, May 3, 2018

Preschool (in)decision: trying to find a balance between being a homeschool hippie mama and a helicopter mom, because it turns out I am both right now.

One of my favorite places to take the kids is "the stick park," as Everett likes to call it.

It's an exciting adventure. We find sticks, build houses, get dirty, and eat snacks. When things feel complicated, the "stick park" reassures me that childhood doesn't have to be as complex as we adults often make it. Their perfect day includes connecting as a family and time outside with dirt and sticks, and that is the beauty and simplicity of childhood.

Somehow, childhood comes with a lot of pressure these days. It stresses me out to think about all of the decisions I must make for them. What extracurriculars should they do? What preschool should I send them to? What kindergarten?

Lately, I have felt stress around thinking about Everett's preschool experience for next year.

Although this year has been challenging, there has been something so wonderful about the freedom we have had to fill our days the way we want. Staying in our pajamas too long. Savoring a slow morning of reading endless books. Learning through experiences at museums, the aquarium, or the zoo. Planning our school time based on what Everett wants to learn about and what we value as a family. The ability to stop what we are doing mid-day and run through the sprinklers or get so covered in paint or dirt that we take a bath at noon. Visiting places on weekdays when everyone else is at work and in school instead of the crazy rush on the weekends. The chance that Everett and Cambria have had this year to spend so much time together and develop a special bond (and yes, they also know how to push each other’s buttons). The magic that happens when we  s l o w  d o w n.

Now, I have been reading articles about Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, and Montessori, and they all seem good. We have been on countless waiting lists and tours, and it just feels like a lot of pressure. That’s only preschool! Signing up for kindergarten is going to be even more stressful.

I do not miss the morning rush of getting everyone ready and out the door, and I am not looking forward to doing it again, even if it is only a few days a week.

Motherhood has turned me into a complete softie. I NEVER thought I would be the type of mom that would be hesitant to send my kid off to preschool, and yet, here I am. I am already sad for a day that is four months away: Everett’s first day of preschool after taking almost two years off.

Yet, there are things I am excited about. I am excited for him to have an adult mentor in life other than me, and for him to be a force for good out in the world, practicing being friendly and kind. I am excited to see him grow in academic ways that are different from what I can provide at home. I am excited to him develop friendships in a school setting that are different than what he has through playdates.

One of my favorite parts of motherhood this year has been planning lessons with/ for Everett. I’ve said it before, but growing up, I have more memories of playing teacher than playing house. In a way, this year was the realization of a dream for my five year old self: playing teacher to a real-life kid. If I could look at next year and use what I have learned this year, I feel like I could do a pretty kick-ass job being Everett's teacher, and I would even have the summer to read something about early childhood education (probably should have done that sometime this year?).

I am excited to have one on one time with Cambria, which I haven’t had since Everett quit preschool when Cambria was 3 months old. But also, how will she survive without her favorite person in the world? The other week when he was sick, he took a nap, which he never does, and she would just walk up to him while he was sleeping on the couch and rub him on his back, and say, “brother.” She loves him so much.

Anyway, this is all just evidence that I am an overthinker and I need to stop. The kids are going to be all right, right?!?!

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