MiniMe started VPK (Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten) last week at the local Catholic School. She did great adjusting to the mandatory white leather shoes. She got up & put her uniform on all by herself. She thinks it's cool that I turned one smaller drawer of her dresser into a school-clothes only drawer & as long as she picks from that drawer, she can wear whichever shorts, shirt, sock combo she chooses. I wonder how long it's going to take her to figure out that there are seven sets of exactly the same shirts, shorts, & socks in there.
MiniMe 'signing in' on her first day
The way that they transition the kids is pretty good. Half of the class came on Wednesday, the other half on Thursday, then everybody comes together on Friday, then everybody gets a weekend back home with the fam before they start again. Sigh. Well, today, the Tuesday of the first full week, sucked. I forgot a few things I had learned back when I was still a working mom & MiniMe went to 'school'. They are my parenting transition rationalizations & they have proven true several times, so I'm sharing them.
1. Even if kids don't have separation anxiety, they will be difficult. When they go somewhere new, like a new school, new dance class, etc., they don't really know anybody. Because it's a new place with new people, many kids don't feel comfortable speaking up when they really want to. They don't feel secure, yet. Even in a very assertive child such as MiniMe, they don't know even who to go to when they have a problem or need help. They don't know if their needs are going to be met. It takes time, experiences, for that comfort level to be built up. The rules & expectations need to be felt out so that security can be established.
2. When kids are with their families, they know what to expect. They feel loved. They trust that they will still be loved. They feel secure enough to be themselves. They feel secure enough to work through the feelings accumulated throughout the day & unwind.
3. Because I am Mommy, I get the shit. Because I have done such a great job providing MiniMe with that sense of unconditional love, been consistent, holding fast to the rules & expectations, all while maintaining a cool, calm attitude, I am rewarded by being the dumping grounds for all the frustrations, challenges, lack of hugs. I am supposed to be comforted by reminding myself that the reason MiniMe is such a nasty little viper when she comes home is not because she thinks I deserve to be spoken to this way, but because she knows that even if she does, I am the only one (at least that's around) that will see her act this way & still love her. It's like she's trusting me with a secret; that she can be reaaalllly beastly, ugly, mean.
4. My job is to find a balance between reassuring her that she will find her way, that things will get more comfortable at school, and not letting her turn me into her own personal punching (& kicking!) bag. I have to remember that she still needs all the hugs, kisses, ticklies, snuggles that she has always gotten, but we have less time to squeeze them in. I cannot allow her to shout & bellow for me to, "(fill in the blank) RIGHT THIS SECOND!" I must make it clear that she is still expected to maintain a respectful tone & attitude, speak in her nice voice, use her words, cooperate.
Okay, now that that's out there, can I just say that it sucks & spend my time between laundry & dog-washing to have a little pity party for myself? Oh, & how long do I have to wait to teach her the Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Catholic School Girls Rule"?