Preschool…fears, breathing, and thriving!

So, last week I survived my kids first day of school.
Yes, my Nugget started preschool last week.
My son, who is 3.5 years old started school.

You guys, it was not easy.
I knew it was going to happen, I’m not that in denial of the whole “circle of life” thing. I’m a child of the 80’s I was singing “Hakuna Matata” before Beyoncé was cool.

Even though I knew it was coming, I was still a bit weary.
I can’t deny, I was also a bit scared.

Why?
Because I let people’s BS get in my head, there’s really no other way to put it. #sorrynotsorry
Yes, I let other folks fears get in my head. I was not going to be in control of my child’s surroundings for three hours, so my ego let this fear step right up in and do what it wanted with me.

Here’s the breakdown of how it all went down.

April: Turned in my child’s application for preschool. Check me out Universe, I’m being proactive in my kid’s education. PSA Alert: Apparently preschool and kindergarten are not requirements. Not attending affects their development and makes their transition into first grade a hard one.
This is key, if your child is already behind on some social and cognitive skills, and having issues adapting to routine they might not get the support they need. If you get a great teacher willing to put in the work, then honey count your blessings. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. In some instances (it’s really more than some), children get passed on from grade to grade as the “problem child”. Not really tackling the root cause of their poor performance or attention, then we have a 6th grader that cannot read at 3rd grade level.
I’m not against teachers, nope-not at all! Teachers do what they can (the good ones do way more than they should). But, we, the parents need to step up our game, do our part to make sure our kids have all the tools they need to be successful. Some parents expect the teacher to create miracles, they ain’t JeSUS! They’re teachers, not miracle workers! PSA OVER.

Thought I would throw in some facts for those of you that might not believe me.

Bueno, back to our story…this my dears is why you need to be proactive and get your kids engaged in programs at an early start. My kid is surrounded by adults, which is why he sometimes acts like an 80 year old. He likes to dip his pan dulce in his coffee like his Abuelos. Sometimes, you guys he even huffs and puffs as he is getting up from a chair. Yup, like his Abuelos!
My kid is an only child, his cousins are grown. My friends kids are grown.
He’s social, but has yet to develop those skills and nuances that come with being and playing with other kids. Yelling “Tienes que compartir!” doesn’t really help kids know why they have to share.
Plus my kid was in dire need of a routine, when I wasn’t working we kind of had one going. But then I’m working and Abuela is back on the clock, which is his clock. “Dejalo dormir cuando vaya a la escuela se va tener que despertar temprano, pobre niño” for my non-Spanish folks she’s pretty much pleading for me to let the kid sleep, because he will be waking up early once he starts school.

So, yea I’m being proactive in my child’s education. This is normal. This happens all the time. I’m good. Kids go to preschools. I mean some kids even make it to College.

August: I get the call that my son has been accepted into the program. Yes! I’m advised that the child’s teacher will call me with the orientation date and time. Okay? Orientation? I mean, it’s not college. But okay, this must be more for the parents than the kids. I’m game. I’m engaged. I’m on it. I’m excited.

Early August: Teacher calls me and introduces herself, I can’t spell or say her name. Person on the other end thinks it’s because I can’t speak Spanish so decides to flip to English. Honey, I still don’t know what the hell you said! For some reason, I mean even now, I’m cringing trying to remember the name.

I really was fine.

I ask, “can you tell me what days they will have class?” to my surprise she says: “oh, this is every day. Monday through Friday, for three hours.” She might have said three years. I gasped and said “oh okay, no pos wow. Haber a quien le va doler más, a él o a mi?” She started laughing, I wasn’t laughing. She adds: “He’s going to be fine.” I don’t remember what happened next or how we hung up.

You guys I was fine, I was excited. The week thing, did throw me off, but I was fine.

“What if…What if…?”

Days after call: I have trouble sleeping. Finally fall asleep, wake up two-three hours later. Anxiety is kicking in. Its fear. It was nasty and ugly, you know like fear usually is. This is what is going on in my head:

  • What if he doesn’t like it?
  • What if they don’t speak Spanish?
  • What if they make fun of him?
  • What if they try to put him in special ed because of his speech delay (thanks Salvi DNA for this)?
  • What if kids bully him because of his speech delay?
  • What if the teachers get frustrated and treat him like shit or are indifferent because of his speech delay?
  • What if…what if…what if…?

It was f’n nuts! My heart was pounding, I was about to have an anxiety attack. A nasty one. I took a few deep breaths and started praying and repeating some affirmations:

  • My son will be surrounded by compassionate and loving teachers
  • My son’s teachers will be welcoming and patient
  • My son’s classmates will be compassionate and welcoming
  • My son will be loving and compassionate with his teachers and classmates
  • My son will be welcoming with his classmates.
  • My son will learn a love of learning

You guys it worked, I was immediately calmed by these thoughts. I realized what was making me go crazy were other folks fears about my son. They might have been well intentioned, but they had the opposite effect on me. They were:

  • “…he only speaks Spanish? Why? Do you know what they will do to him once he starts school? They will mark him for his entire school career and he will be “special” and he will not get the attention that he needs. He must learn English. Teach him English”
  • “…I’m worried about his speech delay, he should be talking more and completing more sentences.”
  • “… I know it hurts to hear, but I have to tell you. You know why? Because they will make fun of him. They will make fun of him and the teachers will put him in special education simply because he has a speech delay. This happens to brown boys a lot, this system is fucked for brown and black babies.”

Crazy, right? I mean, it sounds as if I’m the worst mother for teaching my kid his family’s native tongue. Oh did I mention, that English is my second language? Yea, the girl with two degrees and a career (#bossmoves). I mean, I know some people were worried about my son’s speech delay, I really wasn’t. I knew he was going to have some struggles, like I did (do) and other members of my family did. But I knew he was going to be okay. Plus, my little brother who went to the same school didn’t have a problem there. He had a major speech delay too. He didn’t start talking until 4, then we couldn’t get him to stay quiet.

Again, maybe well-intentioned but it made things worse.

Orientation Day: By this time I’m still working on my affirmations. I’m no longer fearful, but I believe in their power, so why not put it out there? He’s been saying he doesn’t want to go to school, he even mentioned home school. Who? What? No! I go alone. I probably should have taken the nugget, but I wanted to pay attention to whatever information they give you during preschool orientation. Plus, with my kids current “preschool boycott” I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I needed to be calm and relaxed.
I fill out paperwork-again. The same damn packet we submitted for registration. Fine. I’ll do it.
My kiddo will have a sub as the usual teacher just had knee surgery and needs to recover. Good! I mean I wish her well and I’m sending her healing light. But remember, I don’t know her name. I’ve looked around the classroom, but there’s nothing that provides me with this information.

I ask about my son’s food allergy. We are good, if I submitted that information during registration. I did. Then another parent asks about…ready…here it is…SPEECH THERAPY. Her son, has a speech delay and has just started working with a therapist and wants to know how she can continue that. I follow up, with “how can I get my son into speech therapy?” Parent looks at me, and smiles. Yes, sister. I feel you and I’m with you.

Teacher explains, easy process. She will access and refer.
They will come, sit, access, and if needed work with kiddos.

I really wasn’t, but I had to be!

We go to the classroom.
It’s freakin awesome. You guys seriously, I wanted to stay and play.
I mean they have a computer. Mine didn’t.
They have a dramatic play area. Mine wasn’t dramatic.
It’s a huge classroom, at the time there were only 4 kids. Now there’s 7. Still small, one teacher and two assistants-my kiddo will be fine. I’m good.
But wait, what? Kids need to know how to wipe.
What? Oh shit (literally) this just got real. He doesn’t know how to do this. I haven’t tried teaching him. It’s just faster for me to…yea, I know. That’s not how it works, I know.
My sister-mama, looks at me. I think she can see the worry on my face “…I’ve just started teaching him with baby wipes. It’s rough, it’s not easy. I’m really hoping I can get him to poop at home before he leaves for school. He’s not ready.” I nervously smile “yea, mine isn’t’ ready either” I mean, I don’t know. I haven’t even tested his level of readiness. I mean we are still at the “ ugh…stinky pooooop, yuck!” stage. I mean I’ve just started saying “suck it up kiddo, it’s your poop!” Now I have to say “eww, not the hand, with the paper”? I’m not ready. I have to be. Game face on.

I walk in the house “we are on butt wipe training duty” are the first words that come out of my mouth. The elders are shocked, there was a lot of gasping in Spanish. But I explained the reasons behind it and we all agreed: he will be coming home with skid marks, if not worse. I had 4 days to train. We were being realistic.

24 hours before first day of Preschool: We are still on booty wiping training. My kid is adamant about not going to school, when we try to hype him up about it, we get an equally hyped up “no way!’

First day of Preschool: I wake up early, I have some calls and stuff to work on. I’ve taken the afternoon off, I want to be available in case something happens and most importantly, in case I need to console myself. The plan: Wake him up early, so he can eat breakfast and POOP at HOME. I have a hard time waking him up, he has cereal. No poop.

My caffeine has not fully kicked in. This will help you understand what happens next: I call on the powers of the Chupacabra and the viejito to scare him into going. Nope.

Then, I become the best hype-man this side of the country has ever seen. I’m dancing, singing, cheering for all the fabulous things we will do in school. The friends we will meet, the birthday parties he will get invited to (he currently has a thing for birthdays). The toys that he will play with. We are golden!
We go, he’s excited to be there. He goes up to kids and even poses for pics with his Abuela and photobombs other kids pics.
He consoles some kids who are crying and are nervous about being there.
Yup, my kid.
Then they are off. He gives me a kiss and takes off. He’s good, might as well go to Costco.

I pick him up, he does not want to LEAVE! He tries to run back to the classroom, he starts crying, he doesn’t want to leave. I bribe him with a “bidi-bidi-bon-bon” donut . Nada! Ni bidi, ni bon-bon could make this kid want to leave school. I eventually get him out. He was not in the mood to talk. I mean when asked “do you want to talk about it” he clearly responded with a “no”.
He was in a mood. I think he was adapting. He was tired.

Day 2: We got some “no ways” but I got him ready. That’s the cool thing of working from home, I can be here for these beautiful and not at all stressful moments. He didn’t want me to take him to school. He only wanted Abuela. I’m like “cool, whatever,” Punk!

To my surprise Abuela comes back and tells me he started crying bloody murder and didn’t want to go in with the rest of the class. He kept crying for me (he does love me). Everyone was surprised. Including me.
I pick him up, he’s excited to see me and runs to me. Yes, better mood than yesterday. Teacher says he’s doing great, he’s adapting. She was just surprised with today’s tears. I know chica, so was I.

Day 3: He’s a mini-me. I have such a hard time waking him up. I’ve even taken early conference calls in our room, so he can hear the noise and wake up-nada. It must be payback for what I would make my mother go through when I was little. He’s hungry, he eats. We get ready for school, with no stress. I dropped him off, no crying. Teacher had to remind him to say bye to his momma.

I saw my sister-momma, I ask her if she’s seen an improvement in her kids speech. She said she had, I did too. The Nugget is talking and singing so much more, in such little time. I mean, he already was. But his new environment is helping. Abuela picked him up, and he was in such a good mood. Just tired. YAY!

Day 4: Everything went well. Off to school we went no stress. Picked him up and he came home with his first work of art. He was proud, he was showing it off all weekend to any and all visitors.

So far, we have a routine going: School, then he watches a bit of TV as he eats a snack or food if he didn’t eat at school. Then when I’m off the clock between 5-ish (I’m trying to get a routine going too) we go and work in the garden. This helps make sure he doesn’t take a nap during the day, if he does he will not fall asleep until 2 am.

It’s looking good, the only hiccup we’ve had that did have me fuming is the whole allergy restrictions. My kid is allergic to dairy and they gave him cow’s milk, which explains why he hasn’t pooped. Apparently, it’s a special form that needs to be completed by the physician and the parent. Of course, it f’n is!

So, that’s what I’m dealing with. I’m going to be giving my kid smoothies full of veggies and chia seeds to help him poop this weekend and every day after school until we get this whole thing resolved. In the meantime, I’m going to bask in the fact that my son went from “no way!” to “Don’t forget to say bye to mommy” status in 4 days. We survived. We’ve learned. We faced our fears and most importantly we are THRIVING.

Sidenote: My son speaks both English and Spanish, he is also potty trained. He just does not know how to poop and wipe. Thought we had more time. Also, after I calmed myself down I realized that his school is dual-immersion in Spanish!

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