Between COVID and being on an extensive waiting list for the preschool we wanted, my son embarked on his first time away from family this year when he started three-year-old preschool. (If you are a new first-time mom reading this, people are not joking when they tell you to get on waitlists at birth. We were on the waitlist for ours for two years before we got in.)
I was a little apprehensive about how he would do since we missed two-year-old preschool, and he was now older and more “vocal” about things he disliked. Nonetheless, I had high hopes. We talked a lot about school leading up to it, read books about it, drove by the school, and went to Meet the Teacher night, all to get him accustomed.
I have written previous posts here about the lack of respect, support, and credit teachers get. The experience of bringing my child to preschool has opened my eyes to a whole other world of people who don’t get enough credit. It really does take a village.
Our first experience with school was at Meet the Teacher. My husband and I sat down to talk with his teacher, and my son went to play. As we went over how the days ran, the assistant teacher, Ms. Patti, came in, climbed up into a little house with him, and talked to him while he played. As they say, this was the start of a beautiful friendship. Looking up at them playing, his teacher said, “Isn’t she great? We are sooo lucky to have her.”
The first day went well, he left with a “Bye mom!” off to meet new people and learn new things. At the end of the day, I picked him up and he looked really sad. Patti came up and said he did great two-thirds of the way through, then he got sad and wanted to go home.
The next day was met with resistance to school as soon as we got up. Once at school, there was an epic meltdown. The person at the front quickly said, “Let me go get Ms. Patti.” Patti came in and began talking to him through it and consoling him. Try as she might, the situation ended with her holding my son while he was kicking and flailing about, and consoling me by saying, “It’ll be ok, you can go.” I left believing it, but still a little anxious.
At pickup, there he was with Ms. Patti, happy as can be. She said his day started out a little rough, he was sad, but so was another little boy, so she put them together and they played sad trains together until they felt better. As we went to leave, my son ran up to her and gave her the biggest arms-wrapped-around-her-neck hug and exclaimed, “See you tomorrow, Ms. Patti!” In that moment, I felt like crying. That moment melted away all anxiety that I had about school because I knew there was a person there that he already loved as much as anybody, that truly cared for him as well.
As the days went by, the mornings were still tear-filled, but everyone we would encounter on the way in the door was always so nice and comforting to him. From the front desk, the assistants, the Director, to the maintenance man who once did tricks with his empty paper coffee cup to get my son to smile. No matter what their job title was their main job seemed to be to make all the kids comfortable and happy at school. And each morning that was tear-filled, they always knew who to go get for him, Ms. Patti.
While my son is still having some issues adjusting to school, he is now usually excited to go. On the way to school after the weekend, I ask him who he’s excited to see, to help him learn his classmates’ names. The few names he starts out with each time change, but the last one always stays the same: Ms. Patti.
This year, take the time to acknowledge and thank not only the teachers, but the assistant teachers and all the other personnel who ensure your child has the best day possible while at school. And if your child is having a rough go of adjusting to school, know you are not alone, and I hope you have a Ms. Patti in your life to help you though.