Friday, February 24, 2006

But I’m a Little Girl…

Obvious transitions are going to be hard for Emma. She is having a difficult time adjusting to being in preschool. This isn’t the first time she’s transitioned from one classroom to another. She’s never had problems with moving from room to room. The difference this time is that she has to go to another building now. Our daycare has two buildings – the infant and toddler building and the preschool and after school building. They are within walking distance of each other, but the preschool and after school building is where the “big kids” live. This week Emma’s mantra has been “But I’m a little girl…” For this, she doesn’t want to grow up.
Just after New Years they have been working with Emma to transition her down to the “big” building. It was around that time that she started pretending that she was “just a baby” at home. She gets old diapers out and wants us to change her. She will lay on the floor and want to be played with like a baby. When I give her a bath, she wants me to wash her up “like Ally.” She is an imaginative girl and I believe that she’s using this play acting to come to grips with the fact that she’s not a baby anymore.

The way in which children are transitioned from room to room and then from building to building is to take the child to the new area for a couple of hours in the morning. Over a week’s time, the amount of time spent in the new area increases. On the Friday of that week, they are taken to the next area in the morning and don’t go back to the younger area. They tried this with Emma but there was a lot of upheaval in our house due to illness and early morning meetings. We weren’t able to consistently get her to daycare at the same time each morning. On top of that, she wasn’t enjoying her time there. Together with the director, we decided to hold off until my work schedule smoothed back out again. By then, her best friends still in the “baby” building would be transitioning as well. That occurred over the week leading up to President’s Day weekend.

Because I was off, Danny brought Emma and Allison to school in the morning. He got them there later than I usually do. They asked him to bring her down to the “big” building. This probably did Emma a lot of good. Danny works very well with her when she’s upset about something. He explained to her that the preschool used to be a restaurant. He showed her the old bar area and told her that he used to sit there to eat. He also had her show him around the building. She likes to watch the fish at the pet store. They have several aquariums in Emma’s new building and Danny talked about how nice that was. She was upset when he finally left, but his time there with her made an impression. The first thing she said when I picked her up that evening was, “Mommy! Did you know that preschool used to be a restaurant that Daddy ate at?”

On Tuesday the directory asked me to start taking her directly to the “big” building the next morning. It wasn’t getting any easier to get her down to the preschool building and she felt that a clean break would be helpful. I agreed. Wednesday was my first day back at work. I took Allison in with us so that Emma could show her sister around. That didn’t seem to help her much. It was hard for both of us when I left.

Thursday was even worse. I left Allison in the car and Emma clung to first my neck and then my legs like an octopus. Even though Lexie was there begging Emma to sit by her, she didn’t want to have anything to do with preschool. One of the teachers eventually had to pry her away from me. I walked away blowing kisses but it was as if I was leaving her forever. She was able to see the car from her window so it broke my heart again to see her screaming for me. I waved and blew more kisses. I died many deaths for Emma that day.

Today Emma tried to bargain with me all the way to school about how she’s “just a little girl” and that she didn’t need to go to preschool. I explained to her that she is growing up and that preschool was where she belonged now. When I didn’t cave, she told me about all of the other children’s mothers or teachers who would take her back to the baby building. I was expecting another hard morning, but she seemed to have worked out some of her issues in the car. She sat with Lexie right away this morning. No tears.

I wish there was some magic potion you could give your children to help them deal with transitions and the issues involved with growing up. I wish there was a magic potion parents could take so that they didn’t know what was also lying ahead. Looking at things from the other side, there are times when I just want to clutch my girls to me and tell them the same thing Diane Court told her high school class during her valedictorian speech in Say Anything – “Go back! You’re right about not wanting to grow up. It is hard and you will be hurt along the way.” I can’t do that though. Those experiences are essential for them to becoming adults and raising their own children some day.

1 comment:

Trista said...

Oh, Emma, I feel for you! Oh, Jennifer, I feel for you too!

This is the EXACT OPPOSITE of how Abby reacts to anything new. We tried out a preschool this week, and she was so in love with it she was practically pushing us out the door. She doesn't have it in her to be a "little girl" - she's 2 going on 20! In many ways, I wish she would "need me" to help her transition. But, as you have shown, that comes with its own difficulties.

I never knew that these types of things would be more difficult on me than my kids. Thank goodness for other moms who understand!