I have become that parent I was never going to be. I can say that in a lot of ways for many different reasons but this time it is because I was never going to be that overbearing parent to teachers that had to micromanage every interaction with my kid. Well, you know what? My tune has changed. I pay a lot of money for LM’s preschool and I work beyond hard at home to support her in positive and generous ways and I will not have that be compromised. There are going to be many years of school where I have to hand her over to professionals and hope for the best. This year at our very expensive, private and time/energy demanding cooperative preschool, that is not my plan.
LM moved up classrooms at her daycare this year. Transition is a hard time for many children, LM not excluded. In addition she is moving from a toddler room to a preschool room but the unexpected part arrived when I experienced a heavy-handed behavioral approach emerge during circle time. As an early childhood professional I hate circle time. I love the idea of circle time – to build community, to practice emerging skills like turn taking and attention/focus, and to introduce new and fascinating concepts like the leaves changing colors or each snowflake being different. However, I hate almost every inception of circle time I have ever seen. It always turns into a time ripe for children being chastised for AGE-APPROPRIATE behaviors like fidgeting, changing body posture, and becoming bored. If you are going to write 10 long rules on a giant piece of paper in messy hand-writing and no accompanying pictures with your back turned toward the children then they are going to fidget, lie down and become silly. Now the teacher’s insecurity about their lack of ability to lead an appropriate circle time turns into an opportunity to exhibit a skill they are comfortable with, usually behavior management, and usually at the cost of some poor child who was doing nothing more than twirling her hair or sucking on her fingers and got caught in the crosshairs of the circle time showdown. I have seen it a million times and I saw it for the millionth and first time on Thursday morning during my work time at LM’s preschool and it is a no-go for me.
LM has a VERY hard time sitting still. I could write 400 blogs on how this looks and why this is and how it helps to shape all the things that are both wonderful and challenging about her personality. I’ll save that for another time. My biggest concern about this is her being made to feel bad with punitive and shaming behavior in a classroom environment. She cannot help it. We, in this next year, need to find ways to help her manage her need for stimulation and attend to an activity (whether it be boring or otherwise) but there are a million other choices to the behavior and consequence model which does nothing to help her learn to support herself and only controls her behavior from fear of shame and/or isolation.
So, after two weeks of daycare we have already met with both her teachers and the director and my expectations have been set to be differently involved than last year. What I used to see as annoying and overbearing parent behavior I now recognize as being my child’s best advocate. No one knows her better or loves her more than I do and as part of a cooperative community I expect to be an equal partner.
As an UPDATE: LMJ has been off of her injections for 5 weeks and keeping her numbers at a decent level (not normal, but not dangerously low either). She is “in recovery” and we are looking forward to the day that she is “in remission” but we have the winter ahead of us so we’ll see how she does. We are cautiously optimistic and excited to be injection-free for now.