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Drop-offs Get Easier Eventually... Right?

The Pumpkin really seems to like school. Each time I've picked her up from school, she has had a good day and talks about the fun things she did. When we are at home and we talk about school, she is happy and has good things to say. She even uses a happy voice to tell me, "I cry!" (She wasn't napping and didn't want to stay on her cot, so she cried.) When I get her ready for school in the morning and even when we get in the car to go to school, she seems excited and happy about it.

Then we get there. Things go downhill quickly.

Monday, she was obviously unsure of what to do and a bit overwhelmed. In the car, I had told her again and again, "When we get to your school, first, we will find your classroom. Then, we will say hi to Miss J. Then, you will get to play with the other kids!" This helped a lot. When we walked in the building, she looked overwhelmed and started hiding behind me, but I turned to her and said, "What do we do first? We find your classroom!" And she marched down the hall with me. Then we said hi to Miss J. And then, I encouraged her to play with the other kids. She didn't leave me right away, but after 5 minutes or so, she pulled off her backpack and jacket, handed them to me, and went off to play.

Tuesday morning, in the car on the way over, I started prompting her, "When we get to your school, first we find your..." She says, "Class room!" I prompt, "And then we say hi to..." "Miss J!" I prompt, "And then you get to play with the... " "Other kids!" That morning, almost as soon as we got in the room, she handed me her stuff and ran off to see what was going on at the table. That was the best morning.

Wednesday morning, she went with me right to the room, took off her backpack and jacket, said hi to her teachers (there is also a Miss K), but didn't want to go to the circle. She clung to me. It was hard. She was upset and fussing/crying a bit. As I tried to get her to go, other kids left the circle to do other things. When she saw another kid playing with the blocks they'd played with the previous day, she grabbed one. There was a brief moment of "Mine/No, mine!" But then I told her to build a tower with the other boy, and she put the block on top and thanked him for "helping." I said bye and left, but she wasn't really paying attention to me anymore.

Thursday, she started clinging and saying she wanted to go home the minute we got into her classroom. She insisted I stay and play with her. I told her I had to go to work. In fact, in the car on the way to school, I had added that after "play with the... other kids." The last thing now is, "And then Mommy has to go to..." "Work." But in the room, she told me she didn't want me to go to work. I had to stay there with her and play. Or she wanted to go home. The whole time, the teacher is trying to get her attention and to get her into the class with the others. I walked the Pumpkin into the room and lead her to the circle of chairs, and Miss J brought out stickers. The Pumpkin loves stickers, so she hurried over to get one. I slipped out. Was it a mistake to slip out rather than make a point of saying goodbye and being sure she knew I was going? I don't know, but I just did it.

This morning, it was even worse. She wouldn't even take off her backpack. It's Show and Share day, so we brought in her doodle pad (she picked it out to bring this morning. She's so cute!), but she didn't want to show the other kids or see what they brought. She wanted to go home. She wanted me to stay. When I said I had to go to work, she said she wanted to go to work. She was sobbing and clinging to me. She wanted to be picked up, or at least hold her hand. I brought her in the room more, hoping to smooth the transition. It might have made things worse--I can't tell. I simply couldn't pull myself from her hands as she sobbed at me. I kept trying all the techniques I could think of, from "I wish I could stay" to "I'm going to put you down now, and then I have to leave." Finally, she let go of me and turned, and I said bye as I hurried to the door. She sobbed after me, following me, but I went. I knew I just had to get out of there so as not to prolong it anymore.

I'm sure she was fine a few minutes later (I'm about to call to be reassured). She has fun there. It's a good place with good teachers. She is resilent and generally a happy kid.

I hear the drop-offs will get easier as she gets used to the new routine. But right now, it's tough. I hate to leave her like that, but I'm not sure what to do to make it better. I'm going to try to just leave as soon as we get in, and get there earlier when other kids are being dropped off. Maybe the weekend will help. Or make it worse. Man, this parenting gig isn't ever simple.


Becoming Mommy said…
It'll probably take Pumpkin a little while, but she will get used to it. She'll get little friends in class. And she'll run off to greet them, leaving you haning like you're chopped liver.
Trust me. It's true.
And toddlers/preschoolers to waver back and forth between clingy/don't-touch-me stages so even after this goes could be back.
Talk to the preschool teachers about what's the best way to handle dropoffs so she acclimates best.
She'll be fine. And so will you.
Cloud said…
Yes, drop offs get easier.

And then sometimes, for no reason you can really figure out, they go to pot again. And then they get easier again.

Hubby usually does drop off because he's made of sterner stuff than I am. (And that's just how our schedules worked out.) I happened to do drop off today. I walked her into her room, kissed her goodbye, got a hug and a kiss in return, and left. No tears. It wasn't always this easy.

One thing that helped when she was still clinging to me was to find her something fun to do, or get her talking to her teacher, before I left.
k&p said…
I was going to say that they get easier, with occasional hard days. On Thursday I picked up my son and he looks at me and said. "No, I stay preschool". I said "I'm glad you like it here, but it is time to go". "No, you go home, I stay"


It gets better.

Charisse said…
Oh Caramama, this stuff is rough! But it will be OK. Promise. Kids do go back and forth (we even see a few kids clinging at dropoff at kindergarten these first couple weeks). Two things that helped for us: #1, as long as I would act happy about it, it would help. So even though it seems cold, smiling and detaching the little hands and saying "byebye, have fun today!" with a kiss was better than being super sympathetic. And Mouse's preschool teacher (the genius) had this cute thing where she would have a kid push their parent out the door if they were having trouble. "OK Mouse, time for mommy to go, give her a big shove". That seemed to help by putting her in control of the moment. Mouse ceremonially walked me to the door and shut it on me for pretty much her entire preschool career. (It seems to have gone by the wayside with the K transition--I walk her onto the playground, wait until she finds a friend, and then give her a kiss goodbye and go.)

Hang in there, preschool will be awesome for Pumpkin! But it is a big deal, it will take a couple weeks. Hugs!
NoTimeToTalk said…
I have been dropping my kids off to daycare/preschool/school since they were 3 months old. It gets easier. Your daughter is in a tough clingy stage right now. I also say that it is much better to do the drop off as fast as possible. Your daughter probably fusses for less then 2 min. after you leave.

These days my daughter won't even hug me when I drop her off at Kindergarten. :( and she's off...
OneTiredEma said…
AM has been crying every day at dropoff. But he totally happy when we pick him up--and last week we got there a touch early and spied on him and he was happy and participating in the activity. I am NOT worried. It's worse, I think, if I hang around. I take him down the stairs to the classroom, let him choose a hook for his backpack, walk him over to the teacher (by now he's crying), give him a hug and say, "I'll be back after you eat lunch," and hand him over to his teacher.

I'm going to sound jaded, but I know it's totally a farce and he has a great time and I wish he would stop with the drama. But it's only the second week. Maybe by next week he'll be over it.

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