Peanut started school last week. She was to be in the afternoon pre-K class, mostly because it was only 4 days a week, and I just don’t feel like she needs to be there any more than that. This is PRE-K, afterall. The class was to be small, just 8 children, and it would be a great fit for Ryan.
Then school started.
One of the other little girls had bailed before even the first day, leaving just Ryan and her little friend J as the only girls with 5 boys. Now, 2 of these boys are Ryan’s buddies from last year, one is a kiddo she’s grown up with since diapers.
Then J decided to make the switch to the morning class, leaving just Ryan and the 5 boys. I grew concerned. Something in that mommy gut, the place that keeps your kids safe from bogeymen, real or imaginary, was screaming that this wasn’t a good idea. Ryan seemed grumpy, wasn’t excited about going, and had nothing to say after school. For my little chatterbox to be clammed up, I knew something wasn’t right.
Michael and I worried that she’d be singled out for being the only girl. And while it would have been important for her to be recognized for being different, I also think it’s important that she’s allowed to be just another kid in the class, and would rather see her singled out for using her scissors well, or sitting quietly in circle, not simply for being a girl. We were worried that she was one of the oldest kids in the class (of 6). And while that wouldn’t be a big deal in a bigger class, in a room full of boys, it’s an issue. We worried that at age 4 and a half, she’s starting to identify more with being a girl, and girly stuff, and wanting to play with other girls, and since nearly all of her out of school friends are boys, she wasn’t going to have a lot of opportunity for that.
I called my mom, brother and best friend, all early childhood educators to see what they thought. Of course, they also thought Ryan would be fine, but shared the reservations with me. They voiced my worries to me before I spoke of them.
And of course, all of this worry came crashing down on me late on a Thursday night, well after the teachers at Ryan’s school were gone, probably for the weekend. I contacted a few other local schools, since I was unsure what kind of solution her school would be able to come up with. I really wasn’t interested in her being in school 5 days a week, but I wasn’t at all comfortable with her being the only girl in this tiny class. Sure, she’d be fine, but for the tuition we’re paying, fine just won’t cut it.
I toured another school, which was great, and while I was agonizing over the possibility of pulling Ryan from her current school, the director called and offered her a spot in the morning class, only attending 4 days a week. I couldn’t have asked for a better solution and I know Ryan is going to be super happy.
Already today, when I picked her up, she was all smiles, bounding over to me, chatting most of the way home about this kid and that one and told me she loved me and thanked me over and over for letting her go to the morning class. Clearly, this was the right decision.
And so, in a way, today was another first day of school for her. And as usual, mommy got a little schooling in parenting too. Trust your guts folks. Listen to that inner voice. And remember that regardless of what the pros tell you, whether they’re authors, teachers, your parents, etc, YOU’RE the parent. And ultimately, the decision is yours.