Thursday, September 16, 2010

The screamer

Lila has NEVER been called shy.  She is famous for introducing herself to everyone she meets and also for taking off independently whenever we go anywhere.  She seems to lack fear and I sometimes worry that she doesn't really care if I am there or not.

That's why I am having such a hard time with this whole thing.  I was not even SLIGHTLY considering that she would scream when I left her at preschool. 

Her first day, she charged into the classroom, sat down at a table of boys building with magnetic blocks and immediately took charge, saying "Excuse me, please give me that.  NOW."  I stayed long enough to take a few pictures and left her to do her thing and moved to the door watching for another couple of minutes. Among her new classmates, there were a few who had obviously been in day care, not in the least bit concerned that mom and dad are walking out the door.  There were a couple who clung to mom's legs for dear life, but once engaged were content to stay playing as the parents waved goodbye.  There were mothers who were obviously tearful at the idea of their babies growing up.

The teacher finally announced that it was time for the parents to say goodbye so she could start class, and at that, my kid started screaming.  "NOOOO...I want to go home with you I dont want to stay I want to come please dont leave I want my mommy I don't like it here NOOOOO!"   I had no idea what to do.  When we visited the school during an open house, everyone commented on how independent Lila was.  She barely noticed me.  "She'll obviously be fine," the teachers and other parents all said.  When I tried to get her to leave she cried, played "no bones" and didn't want to leave.  She told me she wanted to come back tomorrow.  I took this as a sign that she was more than ready for school, and actually NEEDED the experience.  So what the hell was this screaming all about?

As the teacher approached to calm her, she kicked and screamed and said "I don't like her!  Take me with you!"  She had brought her toy Wonder Pet (so she wouldn't be alone) and so I reminded her that he would take care of her, and that I would be back in just a little while to get her.  Then the teacher took her from my arms and I turned and walked out, not looking back even once.  I didn't have to.  I heard her screaming for me all the way to the car.  I stopped by the office and left my number asking them to call me in 15 minutes if she was still crying, and the secretary told me that every year there is at least one kid who does this the first couple of days but end up being fine.  I hoped this was the case.

I cried the whole way home.  At the 15 minute mark, I held my phone in my hand waiting for the call to come.  It never did. 

At 11:15, pick-up time, I went back to the school and waited for her outside her classroom.  She came out smiling, holding an art project and telling me how much fun she'd had.  I thought we were over the hump.  She talked about how much fun she had and sang me a new song she learned.  She told me about the boy who wasn't nice and knocked down her block castle.  She told me that on Thursday they were going to go outside to play.  She seemed pretty excited about the whole thing. But the second day (this morning) she did the same thing again. 

I've read Lila many stories about the first day of school where there is one kid who cries every day when he or she is dropped off.  At the end, the same kid always ends up crying when Mom shows up because now they dont want to leave.  I cannot have that kid.  I will pull her out of school before I will deal with this shit every morning. It kind of sets a really bad tone for the rest of the day.

I know that it sometimes takes a few days for a kid to adjust.  I remember VIVIDLY my first couple of days of school where I cried (literally) the whole first day, half of the second day, and for at least an hour the third day.  But after that I was fine.  But this is totally heartbreaking!  How does a mother walk away from her screaming and seemingly terrified baby?

I do not know if I can go through another morning of this.  Is it possible that she just isn't ready?


  1. Whatever you do, DO NOT CAVE. I know the guilt you're going through and the toll it takes on you (I went through it with my daughter and day care), but I guarantee that five minutes after you leave, Lila is fine.
    And if you think she's a brat now, what kind of message will it send her if you haul her out of preschool and basically rearrange both your lives and routines, just because she kicked up a fuss? Personally, I wouldn't want to go there.
    And if you really can't handle it, how about getting your husband to take over, or take turns?

  2. It happens. Miles went to a preschool where parents were allowed to stay through "circle time" (shoot my head off) and he'd still have a major meltdown when it was time for me to leave. Eventually (maybe 4 months into the year) the teachers told me I should stop staying every day, to prepare him for kindergarten. The first time that I simply dropped him off, I happened to be running late. This actually worked out for the best: I (truthfully) told him that we were too late for me to walk him in and do the whole routine, but that I would still be there (like always) to pick him up. Zero problems. Honestly. From then on, I just sort of started lying. I became "busy" every day.

    It's somewhat unsettling, how often lying is called for in motherhood. It's both awesome and sad.

    This year, with kindergarten? I thought we'd totally be fine, having a year of preschool under our belt. Not so. Now into the 4th or 5th week of school, we are finally getting back to where the end of preschool left off. Coincidentally, we are "late" more and more often.

    Hang in there.

  3. "Is it possible that she just isn't ready?"

    That, or she's a spoilt brat. That seems to be theme throughout this blog. You indulge her every whim then wonder why she screams bloody murder on the very rare occasion she doesn't get her way.


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