Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Lyrics

At the beginning of the year we moved Anna to a new preschool. We (well, I) agonized over the decision, wondering if switching schools coinciding with adding a sibling would blow Anna's conscious world to smithereens.

Her old school used to be brilliant, we were absolutely thrilled to get her in there. No mean feat in this town. Then they expanded and suddenly her cute, artsy little school became a heaving morass of screaming toddlerdom.

Anna has never been particularly rambunctious, and she's definitely a follower not a leader. The sudden transition last year to a larger more impersonal school really shook her. We know that now. Suddenly six months after being potty trained she started having 'accidents' and crying at drop-off. Being pregnant, overworked and quite frankly oblivious to some pretty glaring signs of unhappiness I was clueless for a long time. I work long days and was dropping her off early when there were only a few other kids at the school, and picking her up late when she was one of the few remaining kids. It kills me that for so long I had no idea what a zoo the place had become.

Finally a friend of mine looking for preschools for her own daughter, visited Anna's school upon my recommendation and gently explained that Lord of the Flies wasn't exactly what she was hoping for at a billion dollars a month tuition. LK visited in the middle of the day after that and was pretty shocked. Anna was not an attention seeker, not a trouble maker, and consequently was being left to her own devices. She had been having accidents because as she explained later, she couldn't find a teacher to help her with her clothes.


Being a parent means assuming all sorts of guilt, and I feel terrible about what Anna had been going through. It took my friend and then another parent of one of Anna's friends to wake me up to what was going on. My drop-off and pick-up had taken all of 5 minutes each day, I was on a 'hello only' basis with all but one of the parents. I had written most of them off as unapproachable SB Bugaboo Moms. A little extra time, and a little extra effort to get to know the other parents might have clued me in faster. It was a stark lesson that I needed to get that insecure 'I'm not worthy' chip off my shoulder in front of terrifyingly wealthy and confident SB parents, for Anna's sake.

So, in January, just a few days before the tectonic shift of her sister's arrival, Anna started at her new school. It's a brand new place run by a favourite teacher from her former school. It's small, funky, laid back and friendly and we both love it. Her best friends from her old school also made the transition and Anna has blossomed in to a chatty (oh Lord!), confident girl who gives barely a backward glance at drop off. When she first started she would say every day in the car ride over there 'they will be so pleased to see me!' with the unconscious self-assurance of a happy child.


I try and remind myself of that fact now that the commute to her preschool is 20 minutes not 5. Oh well.

I agonize over even the simplest of decisions, particularly those relating to my daughters, but this I think was a good one. Underscored by this little gem from a couple of days ago.

Anna (from the backseat whilst driving back from school): "We sang a new song today!"
Me: "Brilliant! Let's hear it!"
Anna: "Oh you can't always get what you wa-ant. Oh you can't always get what you wa-ant. Oh you can't alway get what you wa-ant."
"Oh you can't always get what you wa-ant. Oh you can't always get what you wa-ant. Oh you can't alway get what you wa-ant."
Me: "but if you try sometimes, you get what you need?"
Anna: "No Momma! I'm singing..."
Anna (starting again): Oh you can't always get what you wa-ant. Oh you can't always get what you wa-ant. Oh you can't alway get what you wa-ant.

This continues for another 3 freeway exits, I'm practically crying with laughter wondering how you unstick a record if the record is your child when we finally fit the off-ramp, jolting my little Rolling Stone to say:

Anna: "Oh you can't always get what you wa-ant. But if you try sometimes you might get what you, oh Momma look! Purple and white flowers can I have some?"

That's an education worth paying for.


Fishsticks and Fireflies said...

That, to me, sounds like one heck of a school! Seriously . . . you have no idea how proud I would be if Cooper's preschool taught him lyrics to something other than "Twinkle, Twinkle"! Yeah for a wonderful change!

Ali said...

That was such a nice post. You made me smile.

I have experienced the chip on my shoulder thing with other parents. Actually, to be honest, I still struggle with it a bit and my older kids are 13 and 10. The things they don't tell you about being a parent, hey?

Expat mum said...

Sounds like you followed your gut and it's a good gut to follow! My little guy's class sang "Here comes the sun" last spring and couldn't understand how all the parents knew the words 'cause they hadn't been in the classroom to learn them!

Hyphen Mama said...

Good for you for changing. I'd LOVE to find a school like you describe.

The chip on the shoulder? Yep. That's me. I hate preschool drop off and pick up. The other moms make these fake "Oh, I need to call you for a playdate!" promises... I've come to just say "Sure" over my shoulder and walk away. Those people give me the creeps.

Wynnie starts public school in the fall. I'm not sure that'll be much better.

mmennen said...

Don't have any regrets, she will be better prepared for junior high with both of these experiences! And if only half the people in the world had the insight that you do, what a better place it would be.... so many people go through the motions without ever realizing 'the half of it'. : )

Little Britainer said...

This made me laugh out loud. As they say here, Thanks for sharing!

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