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January 05, 2009

Resilient

Jolynne Kids are amazingly resilient -- far more so than their adult counterparts many times.  I learned this lesson again recently.  My middle daughter has always given me trouble about going to school.  Actually, that's not entirely true.  I sent her to school for half a year when she was 2-and-a-half; she walked in like she owned the place and never looked back.  But when we moved out of the area mid-school year, I couldn't find an opening for her to go to preschool in our new location so I kept her home. 

When she started a new school the following year, that's when the trouble started.  She would cling to me and generally make all kinds of a ruckus when it was time to go into her classroom.  Ironically, she loved her teacher and had a close girlfriend in her class that year.  I don't know if it was the attention she craved or what, but she turned into a piranha when it came time to leave her at school. 

The following year was more of the same -- worse even because that year she didn't seem to bond as easily to her teachers and she was a bit of a loner among her peers.  So when it came time to send her to kindergarten this year, I was apprehensive.

What if I had to pry her off my legs to get her on the school bus in the mornings?  There would be no kind teacher there to hold her and distract her while I made my escape.  She was looking forward to riding the bus with the big kids, so I held my breath until the first day of school went by without a hitch.  PHEW!

But soon the novelty of the bus ride soon wore off, and one morning she reverted to that clingy preschooler that I had hoped was long gone.  After consulting her teacher, we worked out a "deal" -- okay, so I bribed her with TV; I prefer to call it a deal.  The drama seemed to be gone once and for all.

Her teacher is a delight and has worked closely with us throughout the first half of the school year as my daughter struggles with focus in the classroom and came up deficient on some of the early educational assessments.  Her teacher is a great communicator, very responsive to email, and always willing to have parents in the classroom.  I have been thrilled with her on all points. 

So you can imagine my disappointment last month when I received an email from this teacher informing us that she would be leaving for several months at the first of this year to have a necessary and urgent back surgery.  I literally sat at my computer and cried.  (Okay, so it had been a bad week; that news was just the icing on my already dilapidated cake.)

I was sure my daughter was going to be devastated.  I was afraid this news was going to send her into a tailspin.  I envisioned a renewed reluctance to get on the bus and go to school.  What if the new teacher isn't as patient and kind to my daughter?  It was with fear and trepidation that I picked her up at school the day the teacher was going to break the news to the children.

That day I sat in the car pickup line preparing my pep-talk.  I was primed for some major bribing, including but not limited to a trip to Disney World and a one-on-one lunch date with Hannah Montana. When it was our turn at the curb, C hopped into the car and immediately started chatting.  I inquired about her day, and she matter-of-factly informed me that her teacher had to have an operation and that she would have to walk slow and that her teacher's friend would be teaching them for a while.

I carefully asked her how she felt about that.  She was much more interested in what an operation is and if it hurts than she was about her own predicament.  I breathed a temporary sigh of relief but prepared myself that when reality set in, things could change.

The last day of school, I went into the classroom for the holiday party, and we all wished her teacher well.  There were tears and hugs all around.  The replacement teacher had been in the room for several days, tag-teaming so that the transition would go smoothly for the children come January.  My daughter told me about her appearance in the room and never seemed to think much of the situation one way or the other.  She's taking it in stride -- certainly better than I am. 

I don't know when I'll learn that children are more resilient than we think they are.  I really should give the child more credit next time, and stop borrowing trouble, as my mother would say.

Of course Monday will be the true test.  Actually, Tuesday.  Monday will be her first day with the new teacher.  I am still prepared for some backlash, when reality sets in and my daughter realizes her beloved teacher is not going to be back for some time, but I've been pleased with how the situation has been handled so far, and I am hopefully optimistic that it will be smooth sailing come Monday.

This is an original post to the Philadelphia Moms Blog. Jo-Lynne also blogs on her personal blog, Musings of a Housewife and at Chic Critique.

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