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Preschool Dropout: Why I Pulled my Daughter from a School We Love 

Last year, the baby of our family started her second year of preschool. The first year I was working part-time, so I had to use the hours of child-free time to invest into my work. Mid-way through the year I transitioned out of that position, which allowed me extra freedom to use that kid-free time for my own purposes. It was glorious.

The lunches and the time reading and the extra workouts were glorious. Inglorious: EVERY time I dropped my little gal off at pre-school she became hysterical. She calmed quickly and had fun after I left, but every week she freaked going into class. {I knew her teacher well and our family adores her. The school is the most precious place, and she was safe.} But it caused her panic just to walk up the path. She yanks and clutches and grabs and cries going into Sunday School to this day. Because of her responses, I decided I would pull her out of preschool. I dreaded how low it made me feel to wrestle my hands from her little death grip and deposit her into the classroom while the other kids looked on, incredulous. I just didn’t want to deal with the histrionics of her fit-throwing. 

As a side note, I should mention I don’t think she was/is trying to manipulate, which I would view as a discipline issue. I think she has experienced a longer phase of separation anxiety than my other two kids, and is legitimately fearing the gap between us. I have heard others say that the baby of the family often wants everyone to stay together all the time, and I find this to be oh-so-accurate in her case. 

It is so hard to make a “pull her out” decision because of the fear involved. What about “me time”? Will I be able to function as a mother and as a leader to my children without any sort of break? What if she can’t get in the next year? What if I go insane, and I have given up my spot, and she can never get into school because she still doesn’t know her alphabet? The fears were pretty rational, obviously. I was scared, for sure. My husband assured me he was on board and would do what it took to make sure I got the rest I needed at other times — evenings when he is home, and on weekends. 

So I began this year with no kid-free time. Instead, my little one tags along with me everywhere. We go to school drop-off and soccer practice. We get groceries (and we get pedicures). If I need a break, we take a break together. She prefers no physical space between us, which is a stretch for me. But I am praying that the time and proximity I am giving her this year as a gift of myself will reap a long-term benefit in her long-term groundedness and health. 

And do you know what? I was talking to a friend this evening who told me that something inside her was telling her to pull her kiddo out of preschool. I was so excited to be able to tell her that my fears have been dispelled. The time that my girl and I have spent together have been a joy; it has not been the huge sacrifice I thought it would be. Some days are longer than others, but they all seem pretty short in hindsight.

Some kids love preschool. Some parents need childcare! This is not a one-size-fits-all-solution! BUT if you are like me, and something is telling you maybe your kid could benefit from an extra year at home with mom, I will tell you what I wish I could tell my 2015 self: there’s nothing to be scared of. You know what’s best for your child, and your village will be ready to support you when they’re needed.

No shame in becoming a Pre-School dropout.

 

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