Seeing as I have a shiny, new, responsive forum in which to publicly unravel, allow me to wax neurotic about preschool for a moment.
Now, I haven’t gotten myself good and worked up about preschool in a while, and the reasons for that are two-fold:
1. We found some good options, and that calmed me way the heck down, and
2. The preschool issue that’s still a bit of a thorn is the matter of WHEN we make the transition, and because that falls firmly in the I’ve Never Done This Before and Therefore Have No Idea What I’m Doing column, I really wanted your advice. Now that comments are working, I hope you have some to share.
So here’s the deal: We found two great preschools and both have current openings and rolling admissions, which means we can start Wombat pretty much whenever. The rub is this whole “baby thing,” as we sometimes lovingly refer to the fourth member of our family. Mompth (whom Wombat now insists should be called by the “very good name” Fox Lorax), will be joining us sometime in July, and maybe I’m just underestimating my flexible firstborn’s flexibility, but it seems that transitioning him to preschool from the daycare he’s been at for eight hours a day, five days a week, for TWO WHOLE YEARS (can you believe that?) is probably best not done within a certain window of proximity to welcoming a newborn into the house.
I’m pretty sure I’m right on that point for starters.
But…when is a good time? By which I of course mean “When is the Best Time, a.k.a. the only Right Time, because there must be a Perfect Way to do this, yes? Because parenting is an exact science? I think I read that somewhere.
On the one hand, I feel like the best option would be to transition him well before the baby comes (i.e., uh…NOW) because it will give him time to settle (and give me time to figure out the new rhythm and routine of the place), such that come July preschool will feel like a comfortable and familiar sanctuary during what will be at the very least a minorly turbulent first few months with a newborn. If he happens to regress and/or metamorphose into some sort of hellbeast in response to the baby, I would also like the preschool staff to have known the Before Wombat, when he was about as tractable and full of reason as one could expect from a three-year-old.
Also making a case for the Send Him Now option is the fact that he protests “I don’t want to go to daycare!” more mornings than not, and although he always has a great time and I think his resistance is mostly due to his threeness (a frequent exchange: “You’re a contrary little boy.” “No I’m not!”), I also know that he’s beyond ready for this next stage in his social, emotional, and educational development, and that will be especially true when all the kids his age at daycare transition to preschool this summer and fall, with or without him.
On the other hand…
I’m not ready to lose the comfort and familiarity and support of daycare (not to mention that his fluency in Japanese will vanish in a matter of months; I’m taking that very hard). Daycare = my happy place. I know it, I love it, it’s stable and predictable, and I feel more confident in my ability to muddle through the old-hat daycare routine under the influence of a newborn than I do adjusting to the unfamiliar demands of brand new preschool. (There are mandatory parent co-op hours and rules about licensed characters on clothing (bah), and I will have to make his lunch EVERY DAY, people. I barely manage to make myself lunch every day. I called bullshit on a microwave meal that insisted I get up out of my chair and stir it halfway through the cooking time. What do they think I am? Some sort of elite athlete?)
So far, the one person whose advice we’ve sought on the matter is Daycare Lady, who Lady thinks we should wait to send Wombat to preschool after the baby’s here so we can legally leave Wombat with her during however many days and nights we’re in the hospital (although I suspect she just doesn’t want to lose him because she loooooooves him), but…I don’t know. My mom is planning to come for the birth, so childcare shouldn’t be an issue, and doesn’t it seem weird to keep a kid out of preschool for an extra four, five, or six months when he’s SO READY, just because it might make those two or three days easier, if we even need her on those days at all?
I realize that the overarching pickle I’m in here is that I’m caught between What’s Good for Me vs. What’s Good for Him, and, yeah, when you look at it that way, there really should be no contest, BUT…I also think I’m fooling myself if I pretend that either option will make a significant difference to Wombat himself (or how he adjusts to the new baby), because it’s really all just a crap shoot that depends on so many factors, including the time and conditions of Mompth’s arrival plus Wombat’s attitude toward it plus luck and barometric pressure and whether the wind is blowing north-north-west or southerly. I simply cannot tell a hawk from a handsaw at this point is what I’m saying.
“Yeah, no kidding, lady.”
And let’s not forget that Simon starts a new job on June 1, which obviously complicates things considering he’s been 100% in charge of all daycare responsibilities for the last two months, a luxury I will miss dearly and also one that has me straight-up wanting to whimper into my WordPress for another ten paragraphs (although I won’t) because hooooooow in the wooooooorld am I going to dooooooo this?
The current plan–if you can say “default mode” is a plan, since we’ve made no moves in either direction–is that we keep him in daycare until after the baby’s born (late August? September?). And yet I kind of feel like we’re holding him hostage there and also that if I’m really committed to avoiding a string of spectacular public failures in front of strangers, I should probably get the hang of preschool NOW instead of start from scratch when I’m sleep-deprived and hormonal and living the reality that WHOA, two kids is, like, A LOT.
But, ah, I’m torn (and a little mad, forsooth). Which is where you come in. Tell me what to dooooooo!