B’s first week and a half of school has gone amazingly well. Liam’s first few days have gone without a hitch, as well. Happy boys. They like their schools, they like their teachers, they are (reasonably) enthusiastic about getting up and out the door each morning. I don’t entirely trust it, and I keep waiting for the good feelings to fade (and it’s only the second week, so they still might), but so far, the boys have been happy about being back at school. And I am happy to see them happy. Life is good.
After dropping Liam off at preschool the other day, I was standing on the corner, waiting for the bus as I have done so many mornings over the past 3 years. And I was thinking about this — wondering why I so expect things to be different, and why they are, instead, going so well.
And I think it comes down to this — we paid that price already. All of those months, in the early days of preschool, when B struggled. The days that he cried. The days that I cried. The days that I stood on the corner across the street from the school and spent long minutes convincing myself NOT to go back in and retrieve my kids. The times that I almost, almost, ALMOST gave up on it ever getting better.
THIS is why we did all of that. It might not be inevitable for all children, but for mine, and for me, going through that struggle probably was. It was always going to be hard for us. B is sensitive. I’m sensitive and controlling. Liam wants to be with us. So, learning how to NOT let those tendencies get in the way of school was going to be hard. And it was. It was so hard, and I questioned and doubted it so many times. I wondered if I was harming my kids, or if I was a terrible mom. I wondered if preschool was worth all of that trouble, or if we’d end up regretting the deep emotional trauma I imagined was being inflicted on my kids.
I remember saying to myself, more than once, “If it’s like this again tomorrow, I won’t make him go back”, or, “If it gets any worse than this, I’ll keep him home”. But it was always a little better the next day, or he came home with some story of what a great time he’d had. There were best friends and lantern fests and St. Nikolaus visits. And yes, there were also tears and tough days and an emergency room visit.
But if I could go back, I would tell myself, standing on that corner, “Just wait. I know that this is hard, but it IS worth it.” Because I believe that the price we paid, the struggle we endured, has made it possible for B to start first grade at a new school without missing a beat, and for Liam to start this school year, without having B there with him, without any sadness. And when I see where we are now, I’m so glad we stuck with it.