After much reflection, extensive (read: too much) discussion, emails between Potato's teachers, more debate among close friends as well as The Hubby, and of course, a lot of talking in circles to myself, we decided to pull Potato from his preschool.
Before you all gasp in horror, and think of all the irreversible ways we may be damaging our preschooler, let me explain the situation.
At the beginning of February, I was able to go in for one of many Snack Days. A day I loved because I was able to peak inside the world that took Potato away from me for 2.5 hours twice a week. It was fun to see the faces he'd speak of throughout the week, and watch him move from activity to activity. The kid who was very anxious about socializing and people in general was seemingly coming out of his shell, I thought. This Snack Day proved to be different. He stuck to me like glue, which isn't completely unusual. I gave him sometime to show me all of the exciting things at school, and quietly encouraged him to go play with his friends. He refused. I kept gently encouraging him, but he seemed to be completely disinterested in the whole scenario.
Even with the urging of his teachers, a couple of his playmates, he refused. So I followed my gut, and left him on his own, told him I'd be playing with the blocks, and I'd love to have him follow me. He did not. The rest of the class left me with a sick feeling in my stomach. I watched from a distance, as he isolated himself from his classmates, refused to participate in group activities, and only perked up for food.
I felt the twitch of concern, but left it alone. I mean, truthfully, we all have bad days. This could have been a bad day for him. Honestly, I wondered if this situation was happening frequently at school, and because the teachers have a handful of other high needs children, my silent, quiet child was forgotten in the chaos. However, I tried to forget about it.
Then the next Monday hit. Which is when I got to witness my 4 year old child have what I can only describe as a panic attack about going to school. Having major anxiety issues myself, my heart broke several ways, and I let him stay home. We watched an educational film about the ocean, and read some books. The next day, I sent his teacher an email to his teacher inquiring if what I witnessed was a consistent occurrence, not to mention wanting to know if there was an incident that incited the hysteria from the previous morning. His love of school vanished within a couple of weeks, and for me, it was slightly startling. Potato is sensitive, he always has been, so I hoped it was some small situation that we could explain at home, and talk him through. While I waited with baited breath for a response, I investigated.
I found out from another student's parent, that her son had mentioned a child not sharing, and had made a small story about an altercation between Potato and another student. Arming The Hubby with this information, I sent him to speak to Potato- something he seems to have a better knack for then I do as of late. He managed to pull out of him that someone was not sharing the toys, and it hurt his feelings, that someone had hit him on the head, which also hurt his feelings, that there were too many people in the room, and too many sick people.
|Potato playing peacefully.|
I, of all people, should have known better.
The following school day marked a tantrum that caused me to call The Hubby 5 times at work for assistance, tears were cried by both myself and Potato, and after two solid hours of full on hysteria, it subsided. Potato, his brown eyes wide, and still wet, crawled up into my lap, which he is getting too big for, and sighed a sigh that was much too old for his age. We stayed like that until Girlie woke up from her nap.
Then the repeat button was pressed again the next time I told him he needed to get ready for school. As he sobbed, "No one shares with me" through big tears, I knew I couldn't reasonably force him to go to preschool. He's four; as if I want to instill a fear of school, and socialization at this age.
Emails from his teacher confirmed that there had been an issue with a child not sharing, though there was never any confirmation on whether he was physically hit by another child. I have my assumptions on what happened but for now it's a moot point. I trust Potato, and through each moment of struggle, without any coaching, his story has remained the same: "People don't share with me," and "He hit me on the head and it hurt my feelings".
The Hubby and I discussed our options at length; some of which have brought about new questions, and new paths for us with Potato. We decided however, that Potato is better off at home, with us seeking out resources that will help us help him deal with his obvious issues with anxiety. For now, he's young enough that I can shield him from the world until we come up with a better plan to help him cope with the stresses he feels in these situations. Not to mention, it gives us talking points when we introduce him to school again in the fall.
I hate, which surprises me, that we came to this decision. I would have loved for him to finish the year at this preschool. While I know that this is not a forever decision, I am beating myself up over it, and feeling an insurmountable pile of guilt. I know deep down that we have made the best decision for him right now; I know because he is not freaking out in an uncontrollable way every single day. I know because Potato has told me that he feels better now, and is glad that he gets to go to the new school in September. All of this time will give us a chance to figure out how permanent these anxiety issues truly are, and to plan accordingly. When the fall comes, we've picked a different school, that he soaked up the moment he walked in. We know that the structure will be more his style, with more one on one time. He'll get two years of kindergarten in this program, which will allow us to be more aptly prepared for what his future educational needs will be.
I'm learning on a daily basis that this parenting gig is never a black and white sort of scenario. It's always throwing curve balls when you least expect it, and expecting you to flex when you don't think you can flex any longer.
For now, the important part is that Potato is mostly content. I can enjoy him a little longer, and we can figure out away to conquer these issues with him, as a family.