I took my daughter, who is almost 4, back to daycare today after being off for the summer. I stayed to observe while she played on the playground with her class and got accustomed to the kids and the teachers. Then I coaxed her to join the line the rest of her class had made. They all walked obediently into the room, and it was then that I noticed her face.
She looked absent and worried, standing slightly offset to the line. It was so easy to see that she was so overwhelmed by the commotion. She was so deeply removed that it took me calling her name 3 times to say goodbye before she noticed. It hurt me so much to watch her suffer.
I drove home with a heavy heart. I brooded about it all day and overnight, and decided that if she hated school we would pull her out yet again. This decision was solidified by her difficult behavior at home that evening and the next morning. She was overly emotional and defiant. In the morning, she dug her heels in about getting dressed causing the whole morning routine to take more than two hours. I thought for sure we’d have a fight about going to school.
But there was no fight.
When we arrived at school, I was shocked to hear her say:
“Is this my school? I love this school!”
And she threw off her seat belt to get out.
She loves her school?! Her overwhelming, 20 kids to a class, 2 new teachers, school filled with colors and chaos and noise.
And then something clicked for me. A wise person recently told me that we can love something and still be overwhelmed by it at the same time. I experience this all the time in my own life. I love going to the city for the day. I feel stimulated by the sights and sounds and people. I jump at the opportunity to go. But when the stimulation wears off, I need time to wind down. I need to rest. I need to let my senses return to normal in my own private, quiet, and comfortable place.
She is no different. And it will be my job as her parent to encourage her to explore those opportunities that stimulate her, while teaching her how to regulate her emotions when they are over. I will teach her how to take a quiet moment for herself, sit outside on the porch, read a story on the couch, or snuggle in my lap.
I will teach her to enjoy the best of both worlds.