“Mama, I took a nap today. No, I got off my cot one time. Two. Three times. I didn’t nap and I didn’t listen.”

This little scene of truth telling – after a minute to remember properly, of course – was my after-work greeting last Friday as I picked my three-year-old up from his fourth official week in preschool.

First day of preschool smiles.
First day of preschool smiles.

The adjustment from at-home daycare – a wonderful, loving, amazing place – to the large preschool has been so much…less of an adjustment than I expected, for Will anyway! He settled in quickly to his classroom, loves his teacher and absolutely loves having so many kids his age around. The reason – and only reason – we transitioned from his at-home was because he was the only kid of his age and all the others were six months or more younger than him, so I am so happy he is happy.

The biggest hump has been these naps – or not, in most cases – and a few days of tentative drop offs. It was at the one hard morning we’ve had that it hit me how much more difficult this transition has been for me than Will. On the Monday of his second week, I lingered a bit too long for a hug and began to get the ‘take me home with you’ pleas and whimpers from the kiddo. It turned into a larger sadfest, and I left a crying kid behind me.

I had committed the cardinal sin of the too-long goodbye (“two hugs and a kiss and then go!” as the preschool director reminded me as she swooped in to soothe Will as I left). I was having a hard time at drop offs because I am used to the very intimate environment of a warm hug and personal connection greeting us as we walked through the door at his at-home daycare. At preschool, of course, it’s an environment with so many more kids and fewer caregivers. We were getting a simple “good morning William!” call from a teacher as we hung up his jacket but that was it. It hit me that I had no idea how to do this – do I give him a hug and then a swift kick toward the group? Who would get him if he chased after me? (No, no, I’m sure I wasn’t projecting any tension, no, not at all.) (Of course I was.) Thus, the meltdown.


Once I realized the quick goodbye was needed, it again was harder for me to get used to than Will. Since then, two hugs and a kiss and a wave at the window and my preschooler hops merrily off to play. And of course now he more often than not forgets the wave and is already playing by the time I leave the building and turn to the window!

The transition has also been an adjustment in letting go of his daily life. What used to be full daily reports in both written and oral form, often with anecdotes about his day and details of what he ate and how he behaved are now the rare incident reports when he gives himself a splinter (“How this incident will be prevented in the future: Discussed with child not to run his hands along the wooden railing.” Dead. Laughing.), and the self-reported nap/no nap, confirmed by his teacher. I miss those full reports! Yet I also realize this is parenting now: his world will be full of people and occurrences I will hear about tangentially at the back-to-school-night, over dinner time, or not at all. I no longer control his daily world – the true marker of growing up and childhood evolving.

At the end of the day, all of this caused me concern over whether he was loved, heard, and truly seen in his new school. It was tough to reconcile that the less personal feeling didn’t mean lack of love and care Will is receiving. He has wonderful teachers and we chose a great school for him. But man, I wish I knew if he ate his vegetables when surrounded by the school lunch peer pressure…

.  .  .  .  .

“You’ve got to give him points for honesty, though! I love that about him,” Will’s teacher said in response to his recount of last Friday’s non-nap. I laughed and agreed. I realized his tendency toward utter transparency was something I took for granted about my own kid. A small reminder that, even though I miss so much about the individual attention Will received at his prior at-home daycare, he is seen, and valued in his new environment.

Even if the kid doesn’t nap most days. Oy!