With apologies to Tom Petty, the waiting actually ain’t so bad. It’s the separating that’s the hardest part. Especially when it comes to dropping my kid off at school.
He’s only four years old, so I’m not talking about sending him off to college, or even to the military academy he’ll definitely be attending if he doesn’t shape up! I’m talking about sending him to pre-kindergaten. Where he eats paste for six hours.
If he can’t figure out how to handle that, I’m going to start eating paste. After my nervous breakdown.
When I was a young ‘un, I used to feel sick a lot, particularly on Mondays. Except I didn’t feel sick in an “I actually was sick and needed to live in a bubble” kind of way, or in an “I was a paranoid hypochondriac germaphobe who always imagined the worst” kind of way. I was “sick” in an “I feel uncomfortable and nervous because I don’t want to go back to school” kind of way.
I wasn’t bullied and I didn’t hate school; I just had a hard time adjusting to going back, especially after having been home all weekend. It was like being homesick, only I was homesick before I left home. Once I settled into my school day, I was totally fine. In fact, by the end of the day, I’d have completely forgotten about my morning anxiety completely – until the next Monday.
My son seems to be experiencing the same phenomenon. Except instead of it being isolated to the start of each new week, it’s all five days.
Every morning as we get him ready to leave, it’s the same thing: he whines; repeatedly says he doesn’t want to go to school; and after being rebuffed, he finally twists the knife with an accusatory “I don’t like it when you leave!” Which is true, he doesn’t like it when we head for the door after dropping him off. I can tell by the way he clings to our necks and cries and screams and repeatedly asks for another hug while his teachers try to pry him off.
They tell us that he’s forgotten his anguish within five minutes after we’ve left, which is great, but that doesn’t make the transition any easier for us. He forgets, but we – Mom and Buried in particular – remember. She brings him most of the time, so she has to absorb the bulk of his sadness and his tears, not to mention her own guilt at leaving him in someone else’s care for the day. Needless to say, the stress of Detective Munch’s separation anxiety is really getting to her.
Maybe the bus will help.
Thus far we’ve been driving him, but the agony of it all has us considering the pre-K’s bus service. It will get him out of our hair more quickly while hopefully allowing him to calm down on the ride to school. Provided getting shoved up some stairs onto a vehicle as the door closes in your face and you watch your heartless parents recede into the distance while you’re being driven god knows where is calming for a four-year-old. Sounds like it!
Sending your kid off to school is difficult for everyone. For little kids, they miss they’re mommy and daddy and toys and TV shows. For parents, it’s hard not to feel like you’re sentencing the kid to 16+ straight years of incredibly boring days full of math and homework and not being able to play with their toys or watch their TV shows, mostly because that’s exactly what you’re doing, albeit while also giving them the benefit of being socially and intellectually prepared them for the real world. Unfortunately, all my son understands is that he’s not going to see Mommy for the next six hours.
But it’s okay; he’s only four. If we handle this right, he’ll get used to it just like I did.
He pretty much has to, since the alternative is homeschooling. My curriculum would mostly consist of “SportsCenter” on repeat, reading some sight-word cards until I get bored (five minutes), and then three-to-five hours of playing with LEGO sets while I desperately count the seconds until beer o’clock.
Kid’ll be Boo Radley by the time college comes around.