Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hard, But Getting Better?

Well, Finn's daycare transition has not been seamless. After the first couple of days, I think reality set in, and he started putting up a fight. M. does the morning drop off, and he has been getting the brunt of it all. As they drive toward school, Finn gets quieter and quieter, then starts saying things like, "I don't want to go to my new school." As if that isn't hard enough to hear, once Finn is in the classroom, and it's time for M. to hit the road, the tears start. Ugh. And I think this is worse than previous daycare transitions simply because it's not just the tears anymore. Now Finn is old enough to express himself and say things that just break your heart. On one day, M. told Finn that it's OK to be a little sad. Finn told him, "No, Daddy, I not a little sad, I sad A LOT." And apparently he talks about us ad nauseum - he can't find his mommy, he can't find his daddy, he loves his mommy, he loves his daddy, his mommy's coming to pick him up later,... I'm pretty sure the staff is sick of him talking about us.

Finn's been putting up such a stink in the morning that some of the other parents have either witnessed it or overheard the teachers talking about it. When M. ran in to another parent yesterday and mentioned that Finn has been crying a lot, she said, "I heard." But by the time I come pick him up in the afternoon, he is fine, his usual goofy self. In fact, he runs all over the classroom or playground, and refuses to let me corral him out the door. I've called his teacher once or twice at around 10 am just to check in, and according to her he's always doing great by the time she gets in (at 8:30, I think). He's been napping well, and eating well. And he's really taken to potty training. He's even pooped in the potty twice! Bringing the grand total to 3 times, since he's only done it once at home. So it's not like he's having a miserable time, he's just having a hard time separating from us in the morning.

I think part of the problem is that Finn is one of the first, if not the first, kids to get in each day. Most of the parents must work pretty locally, I guess. And his teachers don't come in until 8:30, so he has to hang out in a different classroom for the first part of the morning. If there was a mess of kids playing, or the teachers that he spends most of his time with, already there during drop off, it would probably go more smoothly.

There are a few other things about the school that bother us, like the fact that there's a TV in the classroom, which we didn't know they had. It gets used on Fridays for movie day and once or twice a week for a short video like a Barney or Elmo episode. I'd rather Finn be playing outside or reading or coloring or SOMETHING. A little TV is OK, but selfishly I'd like to reserve that for when Finn's at home and I need to cook dinner. For the amount of money we're paying, the school should have enough activities planned that they don't rely on TV. Also, there's never anyone at the front desk during drop off or pick up - we've never actually met the school director. She lives in another state, and her hours each day are ridiculously abbreviated. Finally, one of the other parents (the one I mentioned above) overheard Finn chattering away and told M. that she's glad there's another child now in her daughter's class that talks a lot. Apparently most of the kids in Finn's class are pretty quiet/don't talk much. That may have nothing to do with Finn's teachers, but it does make me anxious that in the younger classrooms, there isn't enough emphasis on talking to the infants and toddlers to help their language development. Worrisome for the baby, I guess. It also makes me worry that Finn won't continue to be challenged, since his class is focused on learning things that he mastered quite a while ago (colors, counting to 10, etc).

All of this makes M. and I second guess our decision, of course. Did we do the right thing? But of course we need to give it more time. And I think it's natural to focus too much on the negative when there's "no going back" on our decision.

On the bright side, after a week of tears, we had a breakthrough yesterday at drop off. Finn was in a very good mood, and told M. he wanted to play with his new friends. Luckily, two of them were already at school when they walked in. Finn gave M. a hug, allowed himself to be distracted, and M. walked out with nary a tear in sight. I haven't gotten this morning's drop off report yet, but I'm hoping we've turned a corner. Finn still said this morning that he didn't want to go to his new school, but hopefully by the time he got there he was happily resigned to the idea. At pick up time, too, I've also been coming in to find him playing with other kids, rather than just running around and doing his own thing.

All of this had made me realize that the adolescent and teenage years are going to be TORTURE for me. I absolutely HATE the thought of my baby not being accepted by his peers, or feeling miserable in a new situation. I think it's especially hard for me because I had two built-in playmates my whole life, and I usually had their familiar company in most new situations. For example, I never went to the first day of school alone until I went to college. So new situations that I had to tackle on my own were very hard for me, and I was very shy. To this day, I can't "network," just introduce myself to perfect strangers and start talking. I'm sure I'm just projecting my own feelings/memories on to Finn, and I'm imagining him feeling far worse than he does. But good lord, he'd better be popular and accepted when he gets to middle school and high school or I am going to be one miserable mama.

I'm sure I'm worrying for nothing, though. I mean, who wouldn't love this kid?:


  1. Finn will adjust and keep repeating to yourself - every daycare has some things you will not like about it. Your situation is unique, your empathy is quite different than the rest of us singletons in the world! We've faced the world since conception (usually) alone. It isn't that bad and it makes one resilient. He'll be good - remember kids are much more amendable to new situations than adults!

  2. Follow your gut if you have concerns about how the day care is running things and talk to other parents about your concerns, too. If they get feedback that parents want more language development, that seems like a reasonable enough thing to integrate into the program. Likewise with the TV -- I would also not like to be paying to have them plopped in front of the TV. There are plenty of daycares around the country without a TV and somehow they manage just fine.