Well, this past week has certainly been an education, which is pretty much what we signed on for, so there you go. It's also been one of the most stressful weeks of my somewhat shortish life. This is how it went down.
Yesterday (Day 3), Amia knew what was up as soon as Suzanne put her in the bike seat (the school is close enough to ride to). She started screaming as soon as bum touched seat. And didn't let up for FIVE BLOCKS. Yes, there must be some kind of record or award in there somewhere. Like, Longest Bike Ride While Screaming Without Taking Breath, or an award for Best Kidnapping Simulation. The night before and in the morning Suzanne and I tried to talk her down, talking about how much she liked school once she got there. She still seemed kind of confused. "I thought school was for when I'm big like you," she said, pointing to Suzanne. "Nope, you're big enough and we think you're ready, Amia. And you said you liked it, remember?" Not so much. At the school she refused to go inside. People were staring. Kids watching. Amia screaming. Finally the teacher came and just kind of picked her up and took her in. 1.5 hours later the teacher said, "She calmed down as soon as she got in the classroom and started playing with the kids. She even consoled another little girl that was crying." She really likes it once she's there, so what's up? The teacher shed some light and it rang true the more Suzanne and I talked about it.
Amia's using the screaming/crying to kind of open up negotiations with us. She doesn't usually really scream or cry that much, but if she does my tendency especially is to figure out a compromise. Here's where it gets tricky. Parenting, it seems, is a really fine line between dictatorial, arbitrary authority and nuanced governance (for lack of a better word). Suzanne and I are both pretty firm on matters of principle and things she needs to do, either for her own safety or for the development of virtue. And when we issue a ruling (for lack of a better term), especially if it's concerning one of the above, we're very careful to explain as much as we're able and as well as she can understand the reasoning. For example, once when she was about to put her finger in an electrical socket which for some reason was brightly colored, all but inviting children to meet their end in it's fun looking embrace, I made a big deal out of it and surprised her with how big my reaction was. I then explained to her what could happen. The next day a similar situation presented itself while we were playing hide and seek. I watched from around the corner as she approached the brightly colored death trap, think about it, then continue running for me. And for similar things she's responded well. But there's some grey areas. For example, Amia can be really pick about some things, even intense, that seem small. She likes only Suzanne or I to do certain things like open a door or button her shirt. If she raises a big enough ruckus we've given in to her requests or negotiated. Doesn't seem like that big a deal and when you're trying to just get out the door (which can take between 10-120 minutes depending on the age and mood of the child in question and the season) why not? But what we're seeing is that she's generalized the behavior. That takes us to today...
As soon as she woke up from her nap she started screaming about not wanting to go to school. Suzanne said she kept repeating, "Momma, say I don't have to go to school!" That went on pretty much for the whole car ride. Once they arrived they repeated the same scene as yesterday, complete with the teacher coming out to help. After the class, again, "She calmed down as soon as she got into the classroom." She told Suzanne on the way home, "Mom, I'm ready to go to school." And at dinner she happily told us about how much fun she had, how funny her friends and the assistant teacher are. And Suzanne had some really beautiful interactions with other mothers that I hope she'll share on her bloggity. Here's our thoughts.
Reflecting on this we're being much firmer on setting boundaries and even in the past couple days she's responded really well. Plus, after she's been to school she's a completely different person for the rest of the day. She's so much more mature, confident, even happier. She's definitely ready. We think she's just giving up old patterns--both of behavior and just of the day. It's hard to go from being with mommy the whole day to being with all new people in a new place, man.
Now we're off for a very well-timed vacation with Suzanne's fam. Now that we know what we're getting into a little bit with this whole school thing hopefully next will be a bit less stressful. Ever since this whole thing started I've been getting these heavy headaches and just feeling really...compressed.
Prayers and all the support and love we've been getting from everyone, whether here, in person, or on Facebook, has really made all the difference. Thank you!