Lucy will be starting preschool in the Fall. Can you believe it? It wasn’t so long ago that I was worrying about sending Julia off to preschool. And if what I did then was worry, there needs to be a stronger word for what I’ve been doing this time around.
Lucy + Preschool = My brain is full of worms!
The worms are kept happy and fed, however, with the knowledge that Lucy would be going to the same Montessori preschool Julia attended. We’d pretty much known that from the moment we enrolled Julia there. And while I’d had thousands of conversations about it with Dave, my mom, myself, anyone that would listen and even some who would not, I neglected to inform the school director in an official capacity, and so, for a time, we were on the wait list.
(Lucy + Preschool) / The Wait List = My head just exploded and all the worms died.
Thankfully, last week, we got the “YOU’RE IN!” call and my head was reassembled.
We made an appointment for Lucy to visit her new school on her birthday and we were both very, very excited. Until it was time to go in. Something about the words, “We’re here” sparked a revolt.
“Huh? Sweetie, we’re here. Let’s go in!”
“No. No. I don’t want to.”
“But, we’re-but, we’ve…but…what?”
“I’m not going in.”
I hopped out of the van and ran around to open her door. She quickly turned her face away and steeled herself into her seat.
“Lucy. What’s wrong? You were so excited a few minutes ago!”
She furrowed her brow and jerked at me with gunshot grunts, a maneuver that kills my kindness and makes me bleed anger. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I imagined a giant wave of water gushing through a channel, overwhelming the banks and devouring bridges, and my daughter caught up in it, fighting against it, but rendered helpless by it’s force. Because that’s how Lucy experiences strong emotions. They tear through her brain, washing out all the pathways to communication and reason. When I picture her swept away and drowning in them, it helps me keep from getting carried along with her. It reminds me that pushing only puts her under, and I need to be sure-footed so I may offer her a steady hand strong enough that she can latch onto it and pull herself out.
“Okay, let’s think about this…” I launched into a pep talk that, I thought, was pretty inspiring. And since she’d actually started to look at me, I thought we were good to go. So, I unbuckled her seat belt and lifted her out of the car. But she wouldn’t let me put her feet on the ground. We struggled for a moment and then I sat us down on the curb, putting her my lap. She fought free and darted to the van and hid her face against the door.
“Lucy? Lucy!” I looked around to see who might be watching. “They’re expecting us.” I was getting tense. “You’re telling me you don’t want to go in?”
She shook her head.
“Okay. Okay.” I didn’t want to start things off on the wrong foot. “It’s okay. Let’s just walk around. Come on,” I said picking her up. “Let’s just walk around.”
I carried her toward the school. I pointed out some flowers, a bird, the play yard. I put her feet on the ground and took her hand. We looked around a bit. “Hey, there’s the door. Should we go in?”
She ran. I shouted. She stopped. She grunted. Oh, the grunting.
“So, Lucy, what?” I was losing it. I was slipping. “You don’t want to go to school?” I stomped.
She started to wail.
I threw my hands up. “Alright,” I screamed. I scooped her up and walked her kicking and yelling back to the van and plopped her in her car seat. I slammed the door shut and stood a moment. Another deep breath. I walked around and got into the car. I put my hands on the steering wheel.
I sat there in the same place I find myself so often with Lucy, asking, What do I do? WhatdoIdowhatdoIdowhatdoIdo?
And the answer was the same: Wait.
Soon, the car grew quiet and she sniffed, “Mom?”
“I’m just-I’m just scared.”
Twenty minutes later, she was standing in the center of the classroom, inviting the kids to come see the amazing tower she’d built.
She blew her teacher kisses as we left and declared, “I love this place!”
The visit was a success for Lucy and yet another reminder for me to give that kid what she needs: time. If I don’t feel like I have it, I need to find it. Imagine what she could do with it.