It is so easy to project your own feelings onto your children without even realizing it. I was directly in the middle of putting my feelings onto my daughter before I caught myself and allowed the following scene to unfold.
I pulled my 3 ½ year old daughter out of her preschool for various reasons over the summer, and placed her in a series of camps. Only a few weeks into the camps, she expressed a serious desire to return to her other school and that she missed it there. I was devastated. The wheels had already been set in motion and the camps paid for (note: money is a HUGE trigger for me).
So, I explained that she would return in August and that seemed to satisfy her. In the last month she attended, she had developed the most beautiful bond with her teachers at the preschool. And honestly, in retrospect, if I had known that she would have been so connected to them, I would have left her there all summer. Having Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), it is very difficult for her to connect with other people so I am willing to reinforce any connections she forges.
Upon checking back in with her preschool the day before she was expected to return, I was told that she would not be returning to her same class with her same beloved teachers. And my heart broke for her. I was torn and very concerned about the transition. The director kept repeating that ALL her “friends” would be transitioning with her so it “should” be no problem. But our little girl wasn’t connected to the other kids, in fact she barely related with them at all.
On the first day back, my stomach was in knots. When we walked in, the director shuffled us straight to the new classroom. I had a flip second to decide if I was going to make a stink, and insist that she return to her old classroom until she felt comfortable being back before moving to the next classroom. I decided to let it play out, that maybe my feelings were my feelings and not hers at all.
She never even asked about her old teachers.
She never expressed missing them.
Even when one of them was around she made no overtures to return to her old teacher’s classroom. In fact, she did not even demonstrate any of her previous attachment that I was fighting so fiercely to protect.
She has adapted nicely to her new room, comfortable with the similar routines despite new teachers. She was overwhelmed at first, but her love of the school has prevailed.
What I’ve Learned
This was a huge revelation for me. I am a very sensitive person, and I am overly cautious with potential scenarios that might set Little Girl off. SPD causes her to have very intense and sometimes irrational emotional responses. I suppose I’ve become extra aware to try and protect her from these situations as much as possible. But I have to differentiate what are my feelings and my protectiveness and allow her to work through her emotional reactions. Because that’s life, and I won’t always be around to protect her.
And once in a while, I might even be wrong.