Jul 2 2014
Our son’s last day of Jewish preschool has come and gone, and there are still times I cry, but not for the reasons you may think.
I wasn’t one of those moms posting on Facebook about my son’s first day at preschool and my overflowing tears and anxieties. We took a picture of him outside with his backpack–which was posted on Facebook–and drove on, knowing he was going to have a great time. This mom wasn’t sad or worried, not one bit.
Deciding to send our son to preschool was fueled by a couple of factors: our son’s need for more activity and my history with Postpartum Depression (PPD). We were expecting our second child in the fall, and a difficult pregnancy kept my son home with little opportunity for active play, which he desperately needed. I also felt it was important to prepare for the possibility I may experience PPD again; being proactive was important to me. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 24 2014
My 3-year-old daughter has been bursting out of her skin to get to school. This past September, when we were getting ready for the son’s upcoming school year, my son got a new backpack. So she wanted a new backpack. She watched him scooting the 20 minutes to and from school while she rode in the stroller behind and started talking about getting a scooter, too. Over the winter, she found one on the playground and practiced scooting on it, even taking her backpack with her to the playground so she could pretend going to school. She would even stop somewhere to “cross the street” while holding my hand. She started wearing her backpack everywhere she could.
We hadn’t put her in the 2’s program in the fall mostly due to logistics; it was half a day and we lived just far away enough that we would have spent our entire days running back and forth from the school. Instead, I had her most mornings. I felt awful when I watched her longingly staring into her brother’s classroom, trying to procrastinate leaving. Over the course of the year, she inched up her presence into his classroom more and more. She endeared herself to his teachers so they were giving her snacks at pick-up regularly. In the morning, she was occasionally asked if she wanted to help put the schedule up. When the family came into school for birthday parties and holidays, she sang and danced with the kids, even though she didn’t know the word or the movements and she sat right at the table with the rest of the kids. For the class’ final puppet performance, she went to sit with them rather than sit in the audience. She even talked about making goodbye cards for the teachers.
Her social life didn’t help. All the kids her age were either in programs or so filled up on classes that playdates were a nearly impossible exercise in Tetris. She had been in a music class for almost a year which she loved. She was bursting with confidence and joy to see friends and sing. However, after the summer, the average age in the class dropped significantly. She had few peers available on a regular basis and she wasn’t being challenged. My guilt increased significantly every time she asked for a playdate with a friend who was busy at school or another class. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 20 2014
It is one of those mornings. Sam woke up early and now he is in my bed, snuggled as close as possible, twirling my hair around his fingers. His breath is warm on my cheek and his long limbs are wrapped around me. “I don’t want to go to school, Mama. I don’t like my new school. Nobody loves me there. And the toys are boring,” he says.
I turn to him and hold him close, trying to find the right words to comfort him. It is not easy.
My little guy is having a hard time. To be honest, we are all having a hard time, but Sam is the one who is new to this world of changes and challenges. We just moved to a new city and he started attending a new preschool. We are away from family, from the familiar, from the routine. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 16 2014
Sometimes we did nothing but go to Target or run an errand. Other times we had play dates, bounced around a trampoline playground, met Daddy for lunch and a carousel ride at the mall, or went to a PJ Library event at the local library. Whatever we did, we did it on Mondays for the past two years. June 10 was our last Monday together.
My daughter finished her time in the mixed 3s and 4s class at preschool on Thursday. It met Tuesday through Friday. She starts camp five days a week next Monday. In the fall, her pre-K class will meet each weekday, too.
A few weeks ago, my husband said, “You have only eight more Mondays with Ellie at home.” And that kicked off Operation Monday Madness. His statement hit me like the clichéd ton of bricks. My little girl would be away all week forever after. I wanted to make the last few Mondays we had together memorable. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 3 2014
What if I told you that my daughter’s preschool was covered in graffiti yesterday and I dropped her off anyway? Would you think I was a bad mom?
How about if I told you that what was scrawled on the school wasn’t obscenities or amateur art, but angry dark swastikas… and I still dropped her off? Are you judging me now?
How about if I said that we are the only Jewish family that goes to that preschool and I STILL dropped her off? Are you shocked yet? Read the rest of this entry →
May 28 2014
Photo credit: Ellen Bortz
A few years ago I was that nursery school mom with a son in the 3’s class, a daughter in the 2’s class, and a new baby, born seven weeks into the school year. Whether that was a well-thought out plan or not didn’t really occur to me in those early years; it just was. I saw those other moms whose last child was going through nursery school and although logically I knew that they must have done this dance with their older ones as well, it was pretty impossible to imagine. Yet now, I have the luxury of walking my youngest daughter–my 5-year-old–to her pre-K class without carrying a crying baby, pushing a stroller, or feeling nauseous from morning sickness. Now I watch the other moms drop off their preschooler and come outside still holding another child (or two) and I’m sure they can’t imagine a day when they’ll walk out that door alone.
And now we approach the end of an era in my family. My children have spent a combined 10 years at one Jewish nursery school–as a family, we’ve been there for seven consecutive years. We’re not particularly unique, we haven’t set any kind of record, lots of families have come and gone. But for our family (or maybe just me!) it certainly feels like a milestone. At the very least, a time to take pause and appreciate what’s gone by.
Nobody in our house spits up anymore. Our days of diapers, sippy cups, pacifiers, strollers, and cribs are gone. Nobody says “baby suit” when she means “bathing suit.” Nobody tells us that “Purple Barney” is his favorite color, or says they “bless you’d” when what they did was sneezed. There’s no one left here who believes “tilapia chicken” isn’t fish. No more rear-facing car seats, or high chairs, or boosters, or even those cute plastic sectioned-off plates. Baby gates, infant tubs, pack-and-plays, and swaddle blankets are all a distant memory. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 19 2014
I see that sheet of paper every time I drop the girls off at preschool. There’s a green one in my older daughter’s classroom and a yellow one in my younger daughter’s. Each page has three columns: one for your name, one for the date, and one for the color of Play-Doh you’re going to make for the entire preschool class.
In almost three years of sending my girls to this preschool, which I absolutely adore, I have never once signed up to make Play-Doh. There is just nothing appealing about it to me, and besides, there is no question that I would screw it up. (Don’t tell me how easy it is; I can burn water, people.) I try to compensate in other ways–I volunteer for various tasks that don’t require me to go into (or even near) my kitchen, and I read stories and do crafts for Hanukkah and Passover. I know the school has enough Play-Doh (or at least I think they do), and I know that I am contributing in other ways, but I just can’t seem to shake the guilt I feel over all of it.
A few weeks ago, I Facebooked a picture of my daughters at home, cutting multi-colored lumps of Play-Doh into a million little pieces. My dear friend and fellow Kveller Tamara Reese left the following comment: Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 18 2014
There’s a preschool at one of the local temples that the parents just rave about. In fact, my husband and I recently started attending the temple’s monthly Tot Shabbat programs with our 2-year-old, and we’ve already gotten a taste of just how much these little children are picking up. Some of the older ones can recite blessings and know several prayers by heart. And even the younger ones know that you’re supposed to do things like cover your eyes when it’s time to say the Shema.
This preschool sounds really, really great. It’s exactly the kind of place I’d like to send my son. Unfortunately, that’s not an option. Like most preschools, this one only offers programming for about three hours a day, and when you’re a family like ours, where both parents work full-time, three hours of coverage just won’t cut it. So now it’s up to me and my husband to attempt to compensate by introducing our toddler to the traditions I so desperately want him to love and appreciate, but I worry that my sporadic incorporation of Judaism into our hectic, over-scheduled lives just isn’t going to be enough in the long run. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 13 2014
“I want you to have roots and wings,” my mother used to say to me from as early as I can remember until the day she died. And I think of this during preschool drop-off on cool mornings when the sun slants softly through my 5.5-year-old daughter’s curls.
“Honey, do you want to go in without me? We can do our hug and kiss goodbye out here if you want.”
And some of the other kids go in alone without their parents: This is the beauty of the community we live in–the Middle East’s answer to Mayberry, USA, where every child is everyone’s child, and we all live and love and learn together even when it ain’t easy. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 24 2014
It began, as so many things do these days, with a nudge that turned into a whine. Ima. Eeeeeemmmmaaaaa. When are you going to charge my camera for me?
Orli, my older daughter, has her own camera, a small Fisher Price deal that takes relatively fuzzy pictures–especially given how crisp digital images are these days–unless the light is absolutely perfect. I thought buying it was a mistake.“Why are we giving her a camera that doesn’t even work well?” I wondered, at the time.
It was late last spring, and Orli was in that strange space pre-school age children get into when they are anticipating a sibling they desperately want, and yet, on some level, understand will upend their lives. She wanted a camera. Very, very much. And so we got her this guy, with its sturdy, drop-me-I’ll-be-fine thick plastic walls. It is pink and white. I hated it. Read the rest of this entry →