Notes From a Newbie - A Parent's Transition Tale
With her shoes on the right feet, we always have a 50-50 chance that will happen, a back pack stuffed with her gear and a smile on her face, Lucy made her way down the front walk to the car on her first day of school. An outsider would have thought she was a pro, had been doing it for months, or years even. Flash to her mom, standing just off to the side, a tear in her eye, anxiety in her heart and pride beaming from ear to ear. If truth be told, Lucy’s transition to her new toddler community classroom at MAC was an uneventful experience, but only for her.
As a work from home mom, I had been lucky enough to spend the first year of her life with me, toys around my desk. Then we transitioned to a small at home daycare about 6 hours a week and then to a half day daycare. But it became painstakingly clear, Lucy needed more in the way of socialization and enrichment. And then the search began for the perfect next place for Lucy to learn and grow and spend her days, away from me. This is where it gets difficult. How do you know?
As a parent, I just did not want to make the wrong decision for my child as if it would go on my permanent record. So, I did my networking and asked other parents what worked for them. I got lists and looked at a gazillion websites and this is before I trudged off to visit the top 12 schools on my list. I did not bring the checklist of questions because I didn’t want to appear overzealous, overanxious or too uptight. Yeah, right!
It became apparent right off the bat Lucy was a Montessori kid. As I explored schools, spoke to directors and teachers, I could picture Lucy at each of the Montessori schools I visited. But there was something about MAC that resonated more fully. Was it the teaching staff? Was it how organized they appeared? Was it the giant caterpillar in the lobby? Maybe a little piece of all these played a role. But for me, it was most important Lucy loved the school. So after a frank conversation about going to the “big girl” school, we came to visit without hesitation. My hope was Lucy would be on her best behavior. What if they didn’t like her? What if they said, “No, this school is not right for you as a family?”
So despite Lucy peeing in the TC4 classroom, the process continued. Applications filled out, deposits made, start dates figured out, and then the real questions began. Will she need something from home to help make her feel more comfortable? Will she throw a seldom seen tantrum when she arrives at her new school? Will she find a friend among the kids in her class? Will she eat her lunch and more importantly, what do I pack for lunch?
Methodically, I went through the list of needs, extra clothes, slippers? What are those for anyway? As we packed up, I had a flashback to Lucy going off to college. Was she moving into this new school or what? I practiced my relaxation breathing techniques. What if Lucy did not like it?
Once we were at school, Lucy practically ran into the building. Remembering where her classroom was she pulled me around the corner into the Toddler community room. She found her cubby and together we unpacked. With guidance from her lead teacher, we finally made it into class. I sat in a tiny chair and watched Lucy figure out what to do, not unlike she has done most of her life. I watched intently but tried to appear lackadaisical. It took about 5 minutes for Lucy to look over at me and say with a confused look on her face, “Mama, why are you still here?” My sigh of relief was clearly audible as I knew this was not only the right place for Lucy, but everything was going to be okay for me as well.