This is likely a well tread topic in the blogosphere, at least in the mommy circles. Still, I wanted to share my experience with the first week of school for Miles – from my perspective.
This week my 19 month old, Miles, started a toddler program at a Montessori school. I think the first week of school is tough all around, for children and parents alike, and I was no exception. I could not have been more supported by my husband, Miles’ grandparents, his new teacher and teaching assistants, and the school administrators. The only person that was not supportive was, you guessed it, Miles.
Day 1. The absolute worst. I hear noises come out of him that I have never heard before. I don’t know how complex the emotions toddlers feel, but it sounds a lot like angry, betrayed, and desperate rolled into one potent ball. There is a particular frequency of crying that pierces whatever walls I have built up to withstand both his charms and, at times like these, his rage. Consider my resolve tested. I stay at school, waiting outside the building like a stalker. He is still crying when I pick him up, but it’s more of a whimper…heart…breaking. 😦
Day 2. The worst. I spent the previous evening with a clingy little guy, always a breath away from a meltdown. Today we hoof it to school, a 20 minute jog with the stroller. I’m hoping this will calm his nerves, and it does…until we get to the building. Ok, this kid is no dummy. He clings to my shirt as I hand him to his teacher. I know this time will be beneficial for Miles’ development. I also know that Montessori is a wonderful program designed to help him in the process of figuring out who he is and wants to be. Apparently, right now he wants to be anywhere but here. The school administrator offers to check on him 30 minutes later, when I still haven’t left the premises (don’t worry, he couldn’t see me!). She says he’s getting a language lesson, and seems content. Ok, I’ll go…cool. For now.
Day 3. Less terrible. Miles has a great morning and pulls me to his stroller to go for the jog to school. He is chirping at the birds and pointing at planes, happy until the moment when I spots the gate to enter his classroom building. He wails and clings and pleads for me to stay or to take him home. Oh boy. Oooooh boy. Then my reason fails me. I hear that voice in my head, another perfectly reasonable voice (right!!?) that tells me that I can provide him a social experience, life skills, and teach him myself. I can do all this myself, for less money, without the pain of separation that he feels so poignantly. No. I’m staying the course.
Day 4. Drama and theatrics. There is crying and then there is crying. Now, I don’t know that Miles’ is quite at the manipulation stage of life yet. All the same, I was informed that 2 minutes after I dropped him off there was no more crying. So maybe this whole experience wasn’t as dramatic or traumatic as this crying suggested. In fact, I am sure that while I take those cries with me all morning, Miles forgets them before they dry on his cheek. I mean, after all this is a half-day program. I am told he went on with his day just fine.
Day 5. There are still tears – am I just becoming more resilient to their effects or are they actually getting less intense? I can say with certainty it is getting better…easier for both of us. AND today Miles asked for the bathroom – bless you Montessori school!
Is 18 months too young for school? How do you know when you have pushed your little charge too far? How do you know when the challenge is appropriate or too great? Instinct is not always a trustworthy guide, at least not for this heart-on-her-sleeve mommy.