Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tips for the Wary Pre-Schooler

Today we visited Silas's pre-school, the same one he attended last year. For reasons I cannot explain, he still refers to this as "New School" ("Old School" being the daycare he attended once a week 2 years ago because I was losing my mind and had no other willing takers.) (In a confusing twist, he attended "Old School" one or two mornings a week this summer. (See: "losing my mind".))

But back to New School.

He loves it. He loves his teachers and his friends. He's over the moon excited that they "made it look new" (i.e. they cleaned it and maybe painted the walls?). He chose a cubby today then spent the afternoon at home making pictures and other treasures for his teachers because he can. not. wait. to head back to New School.

But here's the thing: I can almost guarantee that his bravery will fade like the setting sun once next week rolls around and it's time to march on in.

My boys. Their separation anxiety is legendary. Calvin famously cried so hard on his second day of pre-school that he barfed on the steps and had to be pried of of me limb-by-limb. Silas was only marginally better.

(Ruby ran in and never looked back.) :)

Suffice it to say, I've discovered a few tips and tricks beyond the usual praying and wishing and fretting and stewing and deciding to scrap it all and take the precious little baby home with me because I love the feeling of him wanting me that much.

* Read The Kissing Hand. Read it an excessive number of times leading up to the big day and then do the kissing hand before you send them. My big kids still love this. It's not a daily thing, but every now and then one of them will ask me to do it and they all line up. It's such a sweet little ritual. I usually end up asking them to kiss my hand, too.

* Send them with a wearable token of bravery. For Calvin it was a regular ol' safety pin and sometimes it was his Daddy's Rotary pin. We called it his Brave pin. It made him braver, and I don't think it was just placebo affect.

* Give them something of yours before you leave. This was discovered on-the-fly, as is the case with most moments of genius. The key is, do not give it to them too early. Wait until you're just getting ready to jet, and then hand it - almost anything - over. Ask your child to keep it for you until you come back. The first time it was one of my mittens, which was perfect because it was soft and comforting, it reminded him of Mommy, and he could wear it if he wanted to. We did this often for Silas in the early days and it worked wonders. After a while he would just shove it in his pocket, but he loved knowing it was there and he loved having a tangible reminder that I was coming back for my mitten.

* Send them with your scent. This is a newish trick but one of our favorites. Put a teeny, tiny bit of your fragrance on them before they go. Scent is a powerful connector and tremendously comforting. (If you don't believe me, go dig up an old bottle of Drakkar and tell me it doesn't take you straight back to Winter Formal, circa 10th grade.) Right now I'm completely obsessed with Maddie and Sophie's  Essence.  It's a very light scent and even better, it comes in a tiny bottle with a roll-on applicator. One little dot on their wrist is all they need and they can sniff it whenever they need to. My big kids still love this trick, too, but don't tell them I said so. ps - I have had that bottle for over 4 months and have used it almost daily. See how much I still have left? Score!

Last but not least:

*Send their Lovey! Silas has taken Charles in for show-and-tell approximately 86 times, but there are also days when he feels uneasy and asks to take Charles in his back-pack. Understandably, this might be frowned upon in some situations and it requires the cooperation of the child to leave Lovey in the back-pack. But I have to believe it helps knowing Charles is in there, along for the ride.

As the saying goes, "Happy Silas, happy Mommy and Dad and entire family and whole, wide world, really."

Got any good tricks that I'm missing?

Lay it on us, man.