As you know by now, I was a preschool teacher and the owner-director of an upscale private preschool in South Florida. I have wonderful memories of the ‘Aha’ moments when I saw the light shine in a child’s eye, when they got it! Just yesterday I was having a flashback to a not so great memory. It could best be categorized as a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Until this day I can’t really get over it.
My school was a preschool not daycare. It was considered to be “The School” you wanted your child to attend. We were a tuition based program not a monthly payment, so it was a tremendous financial commitment to attend my school. That being said this is my version of the truth.
A new school year, of course as in every year, some children have problems transitioning from home to a classroom. We always had extra hands on deck to give these children the attention they needed. Sam, (not his name), was a two year old, he had never attended any programs without his mother and the cherry on the cake, his mother was expecting her second child. Mom kept telling Sam, “You are a big boy now, you are going to school, mommies stay home with babies.” Translated in Sam’s brain, “Mommy is going to stay at home with the new baby, she doesn’t want to play with me anymore”.
Sam was uncontrollable when his mother dropped him off at school each day. At times his behavior was aggressive. After two weeks it was clear that this child was not ready to attend preschool. We explained the situation to the mother, Sam was not ready to transition to preschool, and she understood, so I thought. We gave her back her tuition money and offered to save his spot until January, hoping that by that time he would be a little older and the new baby would not be such a threat. We could have filled that spot in two seconds, but I felt holding it for Sam was the right thing to do.
Months later I am at the grocery store waiting my turn at the deli counter. A woman looks at me and I smile. It was Sam’s mother, I didn’t recognize her, she had lost all her baby weight and colored her hair. She looked at me again and took her grocery cart and rammed it into mine. My mind was spinning, “Who is she?” And, then I remember. She was screaming, “I hate you, I hope your school burns down. Someone should turn you into the Health Department”. Needless to say I was mortified, I said, “I am sorry you feel that way”, and walked away.
A few minutes later I was in the Bakery department and I saw a former parent that attended my school. I was thinking,”Oh Sh-t, now what?” She walked up to me and thanked me for giving her two boys such a great education, and because of me they were doing exceptionally well at school. I kissed her and said, “My guardian angel sent you to me today”.
Is the moral of the story, No Good Dead Goes Unpunished, or Timing is Everything?
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to know your child and their readiness level for transitioning, to set them up for success. Timing Is Everything!