Preschool Daze

Below is an article “Preschool Daze” from Working Mother Magazine from 1999. Although it’s a little dated, it contains great info for getting ready to send your little one off to preschool for the first time.

FOUR MUST-KNOWS THE TEACHER WON’T TELL YOU BEFORE YOUR CHILD’S FIRST DAY (HINT: THE CLASS HAMSTER WILL COME TO YOUR HOUSE)

BY KAHN SHELTON

IT’S A BIG DEAL WHEN YOUR CHILD STARTS NURSERY SCHOOL

so take my advice: Don’t go into it unprepared, as we did. Believe me, there will be several things the nursery school teachers neglect to mention during your various visits. Here’s just some of what you’re bound to discover within the first few months:

YOU ARE NOT GOOD AT SAYING GOODBYE.

You’ve probably managed to go your whole life saying “Bye, have a nice day” to people and then getting away. This doesn’t work at nursery school. Your child clings piteously to your legs, wailing for you to participate in the fun class activities.

By the time school has been in session for two weeks, your kid requires that you read two books, do a puzzle, sing a song, draw a picture, build a block tower and then do some Irish clog dancing before you can leave. In fact, the nursery school director is thinking of charging your family extra because she suspects you’re hanging around for the snack. Do yourself a favor now. Practice saying “Bye!” and then running. YOU ARE NOT SO WONDERFUL AFTER ALL. somehow, it turns out that the teacher is now the Most Wonderful Human Ever Put on Earth, and you – well, you’re about as popular as belly-button lint.

I remember the first day I that my status had slipped. We were two months into the school year when three-year-old Stephanie got into the car at the end of the day and said, “So, how many worms did you save today?” The answer was zero, of course.

“Hmmm,” she sniffed. My teacher saved five. She took them off the sidewalk and put them in the wet grass. She saved their lives because she cares about poor little things like worms.”

Later, Stephanie said that if I really cared about worms, should ask my boss for some time off from work. I explained that, sadly, the newspaper where I work doesn’t give time off for saving little creatures. Her eyes narrowed as she looked at me. “I don’t think you ever saved a worm in your whole life,” she said.

THE CLASS HAMSTER WILL COME TO YOUR HOUSE.

Need I say more? My friend Jane’s daughter once brought the class hamster home for the entire winter break. After it kept the family up all night thundering around on its wheel, it had the bad luck to be dropped on its head by one of the children. Expecting the hamster’s imminent demise, Jane ran out and bought an exact duplicate for the class.

Then, of course, Hamster #1 didn’t die. It has now exceeded the life span of most redwood trees, says Jane, whose kids have totally lost interest now that they’re grown and married and have kids and hamsters of their own.

YOUR PERSONAL EFFECTS WILL BE FODDER FOR SHOW AND TELL.

I’m sorry, but your underwear, your jewelry, even stuff from your trash can will be put on exhibit. My friend Marcy’s son once took her checkbook to school because he wanted the other kids to see the fancy leopard-skin cover. The teacher called Marcy at work to tell her it was safe. “By the way,” she added, “did you realize your car payment is only $50 less than your nursery school bill?”

Also, you pretty much have to stop talking to your husband and friends about even semiprivate, at least when your kids are within earshot. Are you trying to get a raise? Your child will explain that at school, along with the fact that your boss is so cheap he hasn’t offered anyone a raise in five years. And please don’t even think of mentioning anything about the teacher’s goofy new hairstyle or the number of beer cans in your neighbor’s recycling bin.

I advise you to strike a deal right now with your child on just what a tolerable goodbye ritual is, get a lock-box for your most personal possessions and then, after that, set to work on making a resume of your previous notable humanitarian efforts.

I, for instance, am very proud of the fact that in the last few years I have saved three worms.

Sandi Kahn Shelton is a WORKING MOTHER contributing editor and the author
Sleeping Through the Night and Other Lies (St. Martini Press).

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