My daughter Teagan went to preschool for two whole days in January.
At three years old and the youngest of five kids, she was demonstrating all the signs of preschool readiness: the desire to socialize outside the home, exhibited in asking EVERY child at the park if he or she would like to play; the desire to learn and an interest in writing letters/numbers and “reading” books on her own; wondering when it would be her turn to go to school, like her older siblings; and growing consistently bored of her home routine, even when she had one-on-one time with my husband or I.
“I think it’s time,” my husband said in the fall. “She turns three in November. Let’s look for options starting in January.”
While I wasn’t quite as confident, I knew he was right. Teagan was ready for preschool.
We went with a totally new preschool option when the places we’d sent our older children had waiting lists. The new place was more expensive and a little further away, but at least on paper, looked like a great fit for Teagan.
There wasn’t one definitive thing that happened. It was just clear after a pretty emotional first day for her and an even worse second one that this choice wasn’t the right one for our family. Yes, I could’ve given it a “few more days” as many friends suggested. I could’ve read up on ways to help her adjust or delve deeper into the “why” behind things not gelling. When it came down to it, though, I knew that for some reason this was not the path for us.
So I withdrew her.
I work at home. So does my husband. She has two more full school years before she’ll start Kindergarten. As much as I wanted a preschool option to work out for her, my gut was telling me it wasn’t this one and not at this time. We have time to try again in a program that works for her at the time we decide to give it another go. There was no reason to force a stressful situation for her (or her parents).
I started to think about what I’d say when friends or family members asked me how she was doing in preschool. I wondered what they’d think. I just knew they’d all have stories about how their own kids had separation anxiety or rough mornings, but eventually overcame them. I knew they’d think I was babying my baby. I wondered how to follow up my “first day of preschool” post on social media with an update on her not actually staying in the previously-stated preschool.
I started to feel some anxiety — but not about my decision. I was completely at peace about that. I was feeling nervous that other people might question my parenting or think I was doing the wrong thing for my child. In the midst of the anxiety rising, I suddenly had an epiphany.
Like, really. My job is to make the right decisions for my kids based on my firsthand knowledge of them and the situations we encounter together. That doesn’t entail explaining all those decisions to other people. And I certainly don’t need to feel obligated to update the world on social media about anything going on in my life if I don’t feel like sharing.
I already knew this. You probably know this. Parenting memes abound about drowning out the haters and just focusing on our families and our homes. Still. When we do things that are bound to bring out the opinions of others, or ruffle some feathers, I think the gut reaction is to arm ourselves with our reasoning and be on the defense. The truth is, though, that we don’t have to explain any of the SAFE decisions we make for our families.
We are always the parents.
Full stop. End of story.
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