June 28, 2010

A Milestone...

I realize for some mothers the simple act of dropping their young child off at VBS, or camp or daycare might simply be... normal.

I realize that there are other mothers who cannot even bring themselves to consider leaving their child in anyone else's care or capable hands; until the law tells them that they either have to send their child school or home school them.

Me....Well I am somewhere in the middle.

When Gigi was a baby I remember saying... "I will never send G to preschool. I am a stay-at-home-mother. I plan to remain a stay-at-home-mother for as long as possible and as such it is my responsibility to foster a learning environment for her here at home or out and about in the world. I have the time and the capability and the wherewithal to engage her little mind." ––– Or so I thought...

The one thing I have realized over this past year; I cannot provide for my little social butterfly the socialization that she so needs and craves. Our weekly play dates with neighborhood buddies, Gymboree, story time, puppet shows, children's museum outings, zoo outings, arts and crafts outings – While fun and good and healthy activities; none of these things were providing her with the level of social interaction that she needs and would get from a preschool environment.

So – we came to the realization that home was not enough and decided attending preschool as soon as possible was a must for G. Once that decision was made I truly began to look forward to that day. The day when I would drop Gigi off and she would go, learn, blossom, grow! Happy and fulfilled.

But then... Doubt started to creep in – just a little. I started to worry about her – I’m her mom, she’s my baby, she can be shy and I am all she’s ever known. I know how badly she has wanted to go to school for the last year, but... She has had some really great {eye opening} moments on the playground where she would try to make a new friend out of a stranger; and other moments when new kids made her want to hide behind my leg.

What if this little girl who has told me every morning for a year, when the school bell rang in our backyard: "OK! It's time for me to go to school!" –– What if that little girl refuses to let go of me when it's time for her to actually go to school? What if she cries and my heart breaks into a million pieces and she never speaks to me again because I abandoned her at school when she was 3 years old??? {Crazy… I know! But when the ‘what-ifs’ come creeping in – they’re never rational ‘what-ifs’– they are always crazy, irrational, hypothetical, end of the world, the sky is falling, gloom and doom scenarios}

Then, an opportunity presented itself to send G to school last week; Put the ‘what-ifs’ to rest; Get her familiar with the surroundings; the staff and maybe even some of her classmates before the school year started. I had to jump at it! The school was offering a week of Vacation Bible School – 2 hours a day for 5 days. G's teacher would be there – I was sure a few of the kids who she would be meeting in the fall would be there – and her best neighborhood buddy, Taylor would be there! It was a perfect chance to send G off to this new adventure with a friend for moral support! They would get used to this new routine of going off to school together – This was going to be great! Except... they were separated into different groups and did not get to “be together” for moral support like we’d hoped– It would be okay.

And it was! Although I underestimated how hard it was going to be – for all of us! There were tears; G cried the first day when I said good-bye; Lula cried everyday when we left G and most of the two hours G was away; and I cried the first day when I returned to pick her up and saw my baby in line, walking back into the school, looking all grown up! This was the first time G had been left with someone other than family or a friend who might as well be family. G asked everyday to stay with me – and that was hard, but in the end I know she had a great time! I am comforted by the fact that I now know what to expect come August – More important we now know who's hands we are leaving G in and how truly capable, supportive and nurturing they are!

This was a big step for all of us... The first – I know – of many.

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