Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Son, the Preschool Dropout

Remember my pro-preschool spiel? Soon after I wrote that, my son -after a series of conversations about preschool- asked me if he could go to a preschool for 3 year olds. After making some calls and observing at a nearby school, I signed him up.

Funny side story: So during this series of conversations, I am -of course- espousing all the benefits of preschool: It's so much fun! You're going to get to make art projects, and play with other kids! You'll learn new songs, and listen to stories! Oh, you're going to LOVE it! Rapturous me, with my love for preschool.

When the time comes to sign him up, his dad comes home from work, and I say: So I've been talking with him all day about preschool because it's time to turn in the paperwork if we're going to sign him up. We've been talking about what it will be like!

My husband turns to our son and says: So, what it will be like is that Mommy will drop you off there. And then she will leave you. She. Will. Leave. You. She won't stay. She won't be back for hours and hours! You'll be there all by yourself with a bunch of people you don't even know. This is what you want to do, Bubs? You understand? You want Mommy to leave you? That's what it is. She'll just leave you there.

He turns to look at me, and my jaw is on the floor! I said: Hon, you're kind of scaring ME, and I love preschool! He looked a little sheepish, and then said: Oh yeah, I guess I was kind of emphasizing the bad part, huh? Yeah, ya think? Our boy did decide to give it a try, but (to return to our original point) ...

He never, ever wants to go. We spend every Tuesday and Thursday morning talking about how he doesn't want to go in the afternoon. He separates from me without any problem when I drop him off, and his teachers tell me he's doing fine, and fits in well with the group. But he tells me it's too busy there (there are 3 classes of 10 kids each in adjoining classrooms, so it is pretty busy). He says that we have all the same toys at home (also true for the most part). And he keeps reiterating that he prefers to play with his smaller group of friends at home.

I'm finding it hard to argue with any of that.

Since I've been working evenings at the gym, he also attends childcare twice a week there. So he's getting socialization with a wide range of kids, and the childcare provider at the gym is a certified teacher who does planned activities with the kids. He loves going there, and said he wants to quit preschool and only attend the sessions at the gym.

Also, because I'm providing childcare full-time for March and April, it's a real pain to transport to and from school. I have to keep 2 little ones awake late to drop him off, rush them home for nap, and then wake them up early for pick-up. If he loved it, I'd do it without complaint, but the fact that we've spent all morning discussing how he doesn't want to go makes the inconvenience more annoying than it would otherwise be.

I told him he has to go for the month of March because we already paid for it, and I wanted to give him a chance to get acclimated before he chooses, and that he can decide about signing up for April. Often, when I give him choices, I phrase it: yay or nay? Like: Do you want chocolate milk? Yay or nay? Every time I tell him he'll have a choice come April he tells me: I say NAY, Mommy! I say NAY today, and I will say NAY in April! He has said NAY all month long, so I'm not inclined to fight it.

I told the director today that next week will be his last week. I made something up about picking up another child care client (they see me dragging two tiny ones along with him at drop-off and pick-up, where we have to walk through a parking lot, up a sidewalk, through a hallway, and up and down a flight of stairs) because I didn't want to tell them he just doesn't like it there. I don't think they're doing anything wrong; it seems like a perfectly lovely little place. But just because I love preschool doesn't mean he does.

So my firstborn? My almost-four? He's already dropped out of school.

If any of you see him smoking behind the bleachers, you'd better call me.


  1. That's some impressive reasoning for a three-year-old! I think it's good that you gave him a choice and didn't force the issue, but maybe that's because I'm a preschool drop-out too. (And so is Katherine.) (And Penelope hasn't even tried preschool yet even though she's almost four-years-old, so what does that say about us?) Seriously though, it sounds like you made a good choice for your son, and for all the right reasons.

    Are you still thinking about homeschooling next year?

    1. I'm not just thinking about it ... I'm pretty sure I've talked myself into it! The logistics of getting him to and from school would be even worse next year, since it's 5 days a week and he'd have to be there right at the time when one of the boys shows up at the house. I'd also have to put him in the front seat, with 3 kids in the back, which is -strictly speaking- legal (I called the police and had a conversation with the carseat-program officer), but not recommended at all. We'd have to disable the airbag b/c it could kill him in a minor fender-bender. And I truly don't know that I can do a safe drop-off, pick-up with 4 kids, crossing streets, in winter, sleet and snow. It would be a nightmare. I originally thought the district offered transportation for Pre-K, but that was another let down in my many district office phone calls! Every day I'm more and more certain I'll keep him home next year, to the point where I'm not sure I'll even show up for pre-K sign up. It's next Tuesday and I've arranged nothing in terms of childcare for the other kids.

      Hey, if Katherine is a former preschool drop-out and now a budding scientist, I'd say we're in good company!

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  3. I will definitely call you. Your husband's "pep" talk totally cracked me up. Too fricken funny.