preschool separation: easier, and harder, than I thought

Maggie started preschool last week. As per usual with preschools these days, she went a half hour the first day, an hour the next, an hour fifteen day three. On each of these days, I cleared my schedule so that I might sit there in a tiny chair, offering her the comfort of my gradually more disinterested presence, before the tears and wailing and general agita once I dared, on day four or so, to say, “Mommy’s going to go now.”


On Day Two, twenty minutes or so in, I get the tap from the preschool director. 


PRESCHOOL DIRECTOR: Why don’t you go get a cup of coffee? I think she’s fine.


Oh yeah? Watch this, I thought, approaching Maggie at the sand table. 


ME: Maggie, Mommy is going to go outside for a little while.
Maggie keeps digging.
ME: But I’ll be right back! I’ll look at my watch! I won’t be late!
Maggie puts down her shovel.


MAGGIE: I don’t care.
ME: … what?
MAGGIE: You can go Mommy.
ME: I can?
MAGGIE: (shrugs) It’s up to you.


It’s up to me? The assistant teacher was standing right there, trying not to laugh at her rather curt dismissal of me, and so I left. Maggie shouted “See you later, crocodile!” down the stairs after me, but otherwise showed no reaction to my leaving. It was me in tears on the front steps.


This morning, when I dropped her off for her first full (four-hour) day, I started in on the mommy-will-be-right-back thing again, and she rolled her eyes.


MAGGIE: Mommy. I. DON’T. CARE.


I think I’m supposed to be happy about this. However, she is TWO. Do you think she might have mustered up a sniffle or two for the woman who bore her, and for a full eleven days past her due date? Hello? Anything?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer LEe September 14, 2010 at 2:30 am

This is so ME. I was exactly the same way.Still am. Only problem is by daughter is in sixth grade and almost as tall as I am.

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Anonymous September 14, 2010 at 5:30 am

Oh Amy, she is growing wings! The very best kind; she knows she is safe and you WILL be back. Enjoy every moment.

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Karen September 14, 2010 at 2:26 pm

As the mother of a boy about to enter 3rd grade who was just crying last night about starting school next week, I have to say, I'm not feeling too bad for you.
sigh…
I'm pretty jealous, really. haha

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Courtney September 14, 2010 at 2:35 pm

I've gone through this already, because my little Zoe goes to daycare/preschool 4 days per week for 7 hours per day. She is 20 months. I cried for a good portion of the first month that she went to daycare. Now, it is wonderful! She is happy and content when we leave her at school, and happy, tired, and content when we pick her up!

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amountainmomma September 14, 2010 at 9:48 pm

What? No tears and clinging to legs? What a letdown!

Mine did the same thing the other day when I left her at the gym daycare for the first time. She actually cried when we left, I guess she didn't realize she was supposed to cry when I left her there, duh.

Humph, I suppose it is nice she is happy on her own, but, but, does this mean she doesn't need me already???

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Sheila Baum September 15, 2010 at 1:10 am

I am very worried about this. My daughter will be going to preschool this time next year. It makes me sick to think of it.
On the downside, I don't think it gets any better. Your experience reminds me of when I left for college four hours away from home. I was ready to send mom home with no question. Poor mom told me later on that she cried all the way from the campus parking lot back up to Cleveland.
Yikes, let's not think about them going away to college, too.

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Anonymous September 16, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Just tell her you're leaving, and today is a special day. The day she must find her way home on her own. See how that grabs her.

There is such a thing as being TOO secure.

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Amy Wilson September 17, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Anonymous, you may be on to something… she just has her act together way too much. I need to shake things up or else I'll be in big trouble when she's 12.

Sheila, I remember that first day of college so well too. I was so ready to go. My dad told me later that my mom cried most of the way home and I couldn't imagine why. What was there to cry about? Ah, now I get it.

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Mommy on the Spot September 18, 2010 at 1:06 am

I think it is a testament of good parenting. She feels secure in knowing you'll be back. At least that's what I tell myself when my 4 year old practically ran into her preschool class without looking back.

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