E started preschool on Monday.
Well, technically, it’s considered a “parents’ morning out” program but in my book, being away from mommy in a school setting + a set curriculum = preschool. So, she started preschool on Monday.
I had been waiting for that day for over a year. We talked about sending her to a program for 2-year-olds after B was born since life was so crazy and E wasn’t having as many playdates and playmates and needed some structure. We were this.close. to signing her up but I chickened out because in the end, she was still a baby and I wanted her home with me. And I’m glad we waited. But this year, the time felt right. She needs to learn to listen to authority and how to better handle transitioning between activities.
And, I think it will be good for B to have one-on-one time with her Momma. She doesn’t have many playmates her age and prefers to play with kids her older sister’s age. All of our day-to-day activities are catered to her sister’s interests and activity level so I’m looking forward to having the time and attention to give just to sweet Baby Chunk – who I suppose isn’t much of a baby or a chunk any longer.
So let me back up to Monday morning’s preschool drop off. E is stoked. She has a friend in the class so she’s excited to play with her. We walk in the class room, get settled in and start with our goodbyes. The next thing I know, B is climbing up to the table and starts playing with play-do. She thinks she is staying! Tantrum ensues, E gets anxious and suddenly doesn’t want to stay, I give one more kiss to E and mouth an apology to the teacher while beelining it for the door before B manages to ninja kick her way out of my stronghold.
I wrangle B into her car seat (she busted out the rod, noodle AND twister) and then we just stared at each other. What now? We’re supposed to have fun. Just the two of us. But instead we’re just counting down the hours until we can get my firstborn/her best friend.
So this morning, day two of preschool, I decided we needed to have a better game plan. A schedule of events, potential fun-having that will knock the socks off this bored 17-month-old. After a much smoother morning drop-off thanks to an efficient carpool line, B and I head to story time at the library. We used to go often and B always enjoyed the music and dancing and sat through the stories well enough. Until today.
Another girl about B’s age tried to shimmy up next to her and B almost TKO’d her. When song and dance time came, she tried to make a break for the door. Forget about listening to the stories. We peaced out not half-way through the 30 minute event.
I wasn’t much better.
We got there a little early and a few other moms were already waiting with their young children. We exchanged polite smiles and continued tending to our children. I asked the one closest to me the obligatory, “how old is she?” and she responded with a polite “20 months.” I nodded and smiled and that was it. The end. Silence. No more conversation. I went back to scooping up crushed Cheerios from the floor and prayed we could get this show on the road soon.
I have become one of those mothers who has wrapped her identity solely in her child. Specifically, my eldest with whom I am now without for six whole hours every week. You’d think I sent her off to college by how out of whack I feel. I have friends. Why do I need to make new friends when I have great ones that just so happen to have kids E’s age?
And B is in the same boat. Up until this point, I really don’t think she ever realized that she has an identity outside of her sister. Her sisters friends are her friends. Her sisters favorite cartoons are her favorite cartoons. If E wants noodles for dinner, B wants noodles for dinner. Why should she have to go play with those other snot-drippers when she has her own built-in best friend at home?
Fortunately, E is liking school well enough so I don’t have to worry about that, thank goodness. But B and I need to step outside of our comfort zones and find out who we are without E filling up the quiet lulls in conversation with her silly stories and made-up games.
I made friends once upon a time. When we moved here in 2010, I knew not a soul. And yet just 2 1/2 years later, I’ve made some friendships that will last far longer than our Georgia residency. At some point, we’re going to leave this slow southern town and I’m going to be thrown back into the friend-seeking circuit and that is terrifying, especially without E to hide behind.
As an adult, how do you make friends? Parents – how do you keep an identity apart from your kids?