Tuesday, May 6, 2014

This Girl's Got Big Dreams

Walking along the canal on Free Comic Book Day.

There was a week back in early April in which we, as a family, went for a walk around the block before bedtime just to make sure our girls wore themselves out. The Usurper toddled along most of the way while her sister marched circles around her. We only had to pick the little bug up a couple of times. Mostly she insisted on her independent ability to carry her own weight. I love that in my girls most of the time.

Anyway. As we were walking along, the Overlord noticed a group of children playing on the opposite side of the road up ahead. She asked, "Can I go play with my friends?"

Her daddy replied, "No, honey. We don't know those kids."

To which she immediately reasoned, "Daddy. They're kids, and kids are my friends." Love her to pieces. My eldest has a warm heart and I hope she never loses it. Everybody is her friend. All she wants to do, all day every day, is to go play with her friends. She asks me at least a dozen times, starting with when she wakes up first thing in the morning and not giving up until even bedtime.

It breaks my heart, because I wish I could just open the door and let her out whenever she wanted to play. She's only three and a half years old, though. I don't think she completely understands the boundaries of the street and why she should not ever go into it without an adult holding her hand. I know she doesn't understand property borders, because every time we pass by a house on our way home from the gym, she sees swings and slides (which to her is a "playground" no matter what) in somebody's yard and asks to go play. I tell her, "No, honey. That's not our yard." But I don't think she gets it yet.

My girls love being outside. When I was little, I did too.

I wish there was a safe place, supervised by a certified adult, that I could take her to every day, drop her off to play with other kids around her own age for several hours, and not have to stick around while she does so. Oh! But wait! There is!

You may remember my misgivings about preschool that I wrote about back in January when I started this blog. If not, the link's right there. Feel free to click it and read it over. What I might not have mentioned in that article, but possibly have elsewhere, is that whether or not my children go to school is ultimately up to them. Much to my disappointment, the eldest has been asking me nonstop, for the past several months, "Can I go to school, Mommy?"

I blame Blue's Clues and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood for showing her these outrageously appealing and totally unrealistic preschool settings. She wants her circle time, but most of all she wants to be able to play with her "friends" whenever she wants. I don't fault her this. Isn't that what every child wants? The sad truth is that she has no idea what school will become the very moment she hits kindergarten.

Screenshot from the Blue's Clues Preschool computer game.

The introvert in me is crying loudly to do everything in my power to get this girl into a preschool, any school, just so I can have several hours a day mostly to myself. Until her sister is old enough to ship off to a learning factory too. I won't lie. Being stuck at home all day with these two is challenging and goes against everything I hold dear about myself. Selfishly, I want her to go. I'm glad I've been able to teach her so far that "Mommy needs some time to herself. Please go play downstairs or in the living room and watch TV or something." She does this well when her sister is napping, thank goodness.

Regardless of my own feelings on formal schooling, I do not feel it is my right to keep my daughter(s) from going if she really wants to go. It's not like she's asking me to join a brothel or jump off the Empire State Building. There's nothing inherently harmful that I need to protect her from in this scenario. With this in mind, I confess that I've been doing a lot of research on preschools. We even toured one a couple of weeks ago.

The place we looked into is a private franchise known as KinderCare. You may have heard of it. We looked at that one first because my husband passes it on his way to work every morning. We thought it would be ideal, because then he could drop her off on his way in and then pick her up on his way home. So we set up a tour and took the girls with us.

To be perfectly honest, it breaks my heart that we had to decline enrollment. The place was absolutely perfect in every way. There was a security code you had to punch in to enter the building. The playground had high fences. There were designated areas for different age groups. There was an indoor playground, too, for those rainy days. The facility served breakfast and lunch. Each child got her own cubby with a bin with her picture on it. The teacher had been there for sixteen years, fully accredited, and was the nicest lady on the face of the planet. Before we left she told us she had even set aside a bin for Lilah, with her name on it, for when she started her first day.

Man. I'm crying right now just recalling all this.

Your Future Overlord totally blew me away with how well behaved she was too. When we go to the facility, I shook the director's hand upon meeting her. Lilah shook her hand too. She has never done that before! After talking with her potential teacher for a while, I shook her hand as well and said, "Nice to meet you." My daughter turned right about and mimicked me with her exactly! I was pretty amazed!

I wish we were rich, because unfortunately the cost of tuition is beyond what we can conceivably afford. In an ideal world we wouldn't have to pay for something so perfect. My daughter should be able to just go to school whenever she wants, play with her friends whenever she wants. For the former, I guess, there's always the library. There's no limit on the learning available to her there. Finding friends on a regular basis is the hard part, though.

In which she took the initiative to learn how to tell time by picking
up this book and making me read it to her; unschooling.

I'm not too concerned about enriching my daughter's learning. As I've said before, she pretty much already knows everything they would teach her academically in a preschool setting. Though she could probably use more practice with penmanship and things I don't have the patience to make her do every single day. What she really needs (and wants) are friends, and so here I am breaking my brain trying to find a preschool for her that we can afford that isn't going to brain-wash her with Jesus.

What would be ideal is if I could create my own preschool that is totally free and completely secular, with certified teachers or observers, where I can fearlessly leave my daughter(s) for a few hours, that I don't have to work in myself. That would be nice. A mom can dream, can't she?

1 comment:

  1. I feel your pain! L always wanted to go to people's yards to play on their playgrounds! In some places that's cool....in other's not so much. I think it's kind of stupid that as a society we have all these private domains, private playgrounds just for us, but I'm kind of a hippie at heart. :) I always wished my parents' development had a community playground...because what is the point of living somewhere if there's no community? No place for the kids to go and we all feel safe and get to know our neighbors? Your idea about school makes me think of this too. Awesome schools shouldn't be just for the wealthy, including pre-school. I know it is a sacrifice for us to send L to school for just 3 half days a week! I know there has been talk of making pre-school a must for every kid but what does that mean? Will it be quality? A place we will feel safe and content sending our kids? Sounds like you need to start a pre-school in your basement, Stacey! ;)