We were a little apprehensive about putting our daughter in a new preschool this fall – of course, it didn’t help that our greatest fear came true.
Standing outside the portable with the rest of the parents and students who were laughing and reminiscing about their summer vacations, I realized Molly was likely the only new kid in class.
When my pint-size scholar is nervous, she has a tendency to twirl her curly hair. On this particular day her little fingers were spinning furiously.
“What if I don’t make any friends?” she softly whispered, while eyeing up her new classmates.
Some stared, others smiled, but there was a particular little girl who left an impression – one that left my stomach in knots.
“Eww, I hate that girl!” she said, pointing a little index finger in our direction.
I looked left. I looked right. I even looked behind me.
After doing a full 360-spin, I realized the comment was directed to my four-year-old daughter.
“Shh,” said her mother, who ushered her quickly into the classroom without making eye contact with either of us.
Fortunately for Molly, she didn’t appear to have heard the young girl – I certainly wasn’t about to bring it to her attention.
I had a tough time saying goodbye that day.
While Molly didn’t appear to have any separation anxiety, I found myself fighting the urge to take her home and never look back.
But there was that little voice inside me saying ‘just let her go.’ I listened – begrudgingly.
On my way home, my mind raced thinking about what Molly could have done to have caused the ill feelings from her peer.
Was it the way she was dressed? Was she getting too much attention from her new teachers? Was it because she’s so small for her age and shy?
It didn’t take long for the confusing to turn into anger. Mama bear was unleashed.
“That’s it, I knew this was a mistake – we’re enrolling her back into her old preschool,” I said to my husband, who was equally distraught.
Despite the fact that it would mean an extra 80 minutes of driving, instead of conveniently walking across the street to her new school, it seemed like a solution. The only solution.
At pick-up, I was the first mom in line – I couldn’t wait to bring my baby bear back to her den.
“How was your first day?” I asked on our walk home, nervous to hear her response.
“I liked it but there was a girl who told everyone they couldn’t play with me,” said Molly. Her downcast eyes stayed glued to her pink gumboots.
It took a hot bubble bath, a glass of wine and a long chat with my husband to come to the decision that switching schools was impractical and hasty.
Molly’s teachers were taken aback by the situation and assured me they’d keep a close eye on both girls. I was still worried, but had faith she was in good hands.
Next time around, my baby had a little pep in her step on the way home from school and a grin from ear-to-ear.
“I have a new friend!’’ she announced proudly, pointing her finger to a little girl and her mother. Just then, the girl turned around to wave.
And wouldn’t you know it – it was the same child who had given us – or, more like momma bear– so much grief.
Suddenly she didn’t seem so threatening anymore. I actually felt a little guilty for harboring so much anger at a four-year-old child.
School has been in session for over two months now and we’ve stopped worrying about how Molly is adjusting.
She loves her new teachers and has even begun asking when her new friend can come over to play.
While I may have taken longer to feel at ease about, my back-to-school jitters have finally subsided and the bear claws have been retracted… for now.
Kristyl Clark is a stay-at-home-mom and founder of the family blogazine, She’s a Valley Mom (www.shesavalleymom.com). She writes monthly for The Leader.