Every year about this time, moms around the globe get ready for the exciting time in their and their kids’ lives to go back to school. Speaking as a former child, I remember that going back to school was like a dream on one hand, and depressing on the other because it meant summer is over. It never occurred to me when
I was a child that my parents would be elated to send us back. I am one of four children so I can only imagine what summer was like for my parents. I remember summers lasting forever. (I’m sure my mother does too.) Enjoying the long days and the short nights, the warm breeze on my skin as I would climb trees, skin my knees, chase boys, build tree huts out of pretty much nothing at all, and learn valuable lessons from my two brothers such as: how to kill bugs, how to hunt for frogs, how to sneak up on neighbors with windows open, to name a few. This was at a time when my mother could leave all 4 of us in a car while she went into a grocery store not having to worry about either getting arrested or us being killed. This was a time when we knew our neighbors and we knew them well, this was at a time when we could ride our bikes and be gone for the day without my parents having to worry. This is my recollection of summer as a child.
As a parent, I now know that the summers last forever but not in a romantic childhood kind of way. This was the first summer that I started thinking that I’m going to love back to school. However, I see that a lot of parents with children in my children’s age group (3- 4 1/5), struggle with the idea of sending their kids to school before kindergarten. I know a few moms who have mentioned to me that this is the last year that they get to have their baby home, and they feel that sending the child to pre-k would be too soon for them. Now, my brain immediately would ask the question, “Too soon for you or too soon for the child?”
Upon hearing these different opinions, ranging from “I can’t wait to get rid of them or “I long for the day when they go back to school” or “my baby is still a baby they’re not going to pre-k,”
I found myself being very confused as to what was the right decision because once you put that child in school, once they get accustomed to it, there is really no turning back from it.
I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me because I absolutely have no remorse about putting her in school…oh, and my son, who has just turned 3.
When I took a tour of my daughter’s potential preschool, I was so impressed that I found myself wanting to be four years old so that I could go. All of my worries had been calmed. I was afraid that it would end up just being a big room with old toys, that it would just be a bunch of obnoxious boogery, germy toddlers running around with one teacher responsible for 45 of them. Clearly I was mistaken. This school she is going into is pretty much Harvard for toddlers. (The state that we live in offers pre-k for 4 year olds for free, so while it looks like Harvard we are not paying Harvard tuition.) The teacher went over her curriculum, yes, CURRICULUM, and I was so impressed that I thought it would also be very important for my son to be part of it as well. Not only is it about 10 kids per classroom but there is a strict teaching method that they use. There is no way I can do this for my kids at home and if I could, there is no way they would take me seriously.
Here came the emotional tug of war that I touched on earlier. Does remorselessly putting a 3 & 4 year old in preschool mean that I do not want them home? That I am selfish? That my husband and I don’t want to teach them ourselves? As parents it is our duty to constantly question ourselves with every little decision we make. One friend once told me “get used to guilt, it comes out with the placenta.” I thought that was so hilarious I use it in everyday life because it is true.
The answer to my emotional tug of war clearly is that to put both of my very smart children in a very smart environment to make them even smarter makes me a smart mom. It means I love them unconditionally, it means I love them enough to move on to the next page with them and to enjoy the fact that they are no longer babies, but are developing into children. Every parent wants to believe that their child is a super genius and to be quite honest with you mine in fact are. They are not perfect by any means but they are very intelligent and I would be doing them a disservice by keeping them at home with me. To me, that would be selfish on my part because I would want them home for my satisfaction. Putting them in school is for their benefit and isn’t that what parenting is all about? Thinking about what is best for the child? Let’s be honest the break in the day is nice too!
So lets be proud of ourselves, parents! We got through a long summer! A summer that allowed our kids to make memories, enjoy family time, develop a little bit more, rest, and prepare for the next phase. Whether you work full-time in or out of the home, being a parent is the hardest job on the planet. Whatever your decision on this topic is, be proud of it, because your motive is pure love
Here are my summer babies. They make their own paint with chalk and water. Super cool, I think.