Miss E in the car stretching and shrinking words. No joke.
Miss E is in half-day Kindergarten 5 days a week. We have the option of sending her to after-care any day we want to as well. This is an awesome kindergarten-only after-care where they each lunch, have recess and work on kindergarten curriculum. So far, we have sent her about 2 days a week in order for her to get used to the longer school day and to have some more social time. This also gives us a bigger break with no kiddos on the days Mr. T is in school. However, over the last few weeks Miss E has been saying she doesn't want to go to after-care, or to school for that matter but mostly to after-care. When I ask her why, all I get is that she is either too tired or she just doesn't want to - neither of which are great excuses in my book. But, I love my girl and she doesn't really HAVE to go to after-care so I have been hemming and hawing and doing things like picking her up early or letting her switch days.
This morning, I was at home while the kids were both at school (ahhh....love the quiet house) trying to dig out from a mountain of laundry and catch up on all the e-mails and mail that came while I was gone this weekend. When it was almost time for kindergarten to get out I thought about running down to the school and getting Miss E as a special thing so she didn't have to go to aftercare adn she and I could hang out a bit before we had to pick up Mr. T. I got my keys, hopped in the van and drove 3/4 of the way to school before I had the following conversation in my head:
You can't pick her up early, she'll just learn that if she complains she doesn't really have to go (turn van toward home)
But she really doesn't have to go and if I pick her up that would make her happy and she and I could have some time together (turn van back toward school)
You said she had to go this morning - that should mean something (turn van back toward home)
But it would save a little money and I like hanging out with her (turn van back toward school)
You see the ridiculousness of this? I was literally DRIVING AROUND THE BLOCK IN CIRCLES. Finally, annoyed with myself, I went to pick her up. She was thrilled and we went buy some new pajama's which we have been talking about doing for awhile. And it was a lot of fun. When we got home, I e-mailed her teachers, explained the situation and asked if they had noticed anything going on that would clue us in as to WHY she didn't want to go. Her main teacher e-mailed back right away, says she hasn't noticed anything but that she would check in with Miss E tomorrow.
Then the after-care teacher called. We chatted for a bit about what was going on, why we sent her to aftercare and such. Then in the sweetest, nicest, most supportive way possible, she told me to suck it up. That I needed to toughen up and send her to after-care 2 days a week and make her stay until 3. And despite the fact that I had to bite back my tongue to keep from crying out 'but she's my baby!', she is right. Absolutely right. I do need to toughen up. After-care is the best thing for Miss E. She needs to work on some things and yes, it's probably a bit uncomfortable for her but she has to do it.
It's so strange how parenting shifts at this point. Before about 5, you do your best to make sure your kids aren't uncomfortable, that they always have someone to rely on and to support them and to coach them through situations. Now it's more about pushing them out there to figure things out on their own. That sounds super harsh and OF COURSE we are always there to help her. But I'm not at school all day with her. She has to rely on her teachers and herself to make school a comfortable and rewarding experience for her. There are some things she needs to learn and practice that are really only available at after-care and me letting her push her way out of it by tugging at my heart is not helping her in the long run. It actually shows how much she needs to be there because it IS somewhat uncomfortable.
So, from now on, Monday and Wednesday's are aftercare days- no excuses. (And I did check to make sure she wasn't being picked on or teased which she is not. She seems to like all of them and they all seem to like her so that's not the problem.)
Yes, a kindergarten teacher told me to toughen up today and I was really glad. (And I only whimpered about making my baby do something she didn't want to a little bit. Promise. Just a tiny bit. )