I have been obsessing since October in regards to Jelly and preschool. She is an August birthday, which means she just turned three when she started preschool. Having sent Cookie to the same preschool, I have a pretty good idea in regards to the teacher and her feelings. Therefore, it should not have surprised me going into October conferences that she would recommend we wait until Jelly is six to send her to Kindergarten. The teacher has a philosophy that all summer birthday kids should wait a year. That being the "youngest" in the class is a detriment. That giving your child one more year to grow emotionally is going to give them an advantage. The BEST advantage.
Because I was a classroom teacher, I will readily agree that a child who is not emotionally ready for the challenges of the social aspects of school, will struggle. They will struggle to get through the day, worried about confrontations, worried about other kids, and well, just worried. Too worried and emotional to open themselves up to learning all that other stuff like arithmetic, reading, and writing. I have recommended to friends that being the oldest is just fine, that it wouldn't hurt. I told a friend that repeating Kinder is not so bad.
So why am I so conflicted? Shouldn't we just wait a year? Are we going to damage Jelly if we send her to Kindergarten at five? If summer birthdays are so bad then why don't they change the birth dates in school to June 1st? I believe that each kid and their needs are different. I like to say that my girls are like Chocolate and Vanilla. I remember sitting in Cookie's preschool classes and saying to myself, "Thank God she doesn't do that!" And now Jelly is the kid that is DOING THAT! She throws tantrums..we skipped terrible twos and went right to Terrifying Threes. Cookie started terrible twos at 18 months and we just continues to be 6 months ahead when it came to horrible age behavior.
Jelly is right on in development. She is 100% Three! She dawdles like nobody can. She is terrible at transitions and needs warnings that change is a coming. She is stubborn and will not compromise. She will only play horses, that is all. When offered a chance to play with other kids, she will, but only if they agree to play what she wants. She is a leftie...what the heck do I do with a leftie? She questions authority. And I mean real full on not the simple "but why Mommy." It will be the, "that's silly, that makes no sense" kind of questioning, therefore she is not going to do it. She will simply not do what you want her to if your request seems "poo poo." I could ask Cookie, "How was your day today?" And she would spend the next two hours non-stop giving me a minute by minute play of her day at school. Jelly gives the dreaded, "fine." It is like pulling teeth to get her to tell me anything, I don't think any amount of time with change that.
Despite all of her less than admirable qualities she has some great strengths. She is funny. Like comedic funny. Her timing is impeccable. She can say and deliver a knock knock joke that Cookie struggles with (poor Cookie has her Mommy's sense of timing). She is smart. Not knock your socks off braniac smart, but I think she will be street smart. She can read people. She has her preschool teach pegged. After her first day in summer fun classes, I asked her if she like her teacher and she said, "No, she tells me what to do." I witnessed her wait her teacher out to answer a question. Not because she didn't know the answer, not because she was shy or unsure, but because it annoyed the shit out of her teacher. She is the kid that when the teacher asks a question, she will refuse to answer it because she knows the answer, she knows the teacher knows the answer, and she knows the teacher knows she knows so why bother. She knows what she likes and doesn't like and will not be moved. You can not convince her to play cars, she does not like it.
I was a pleaser, so the idea that she is so defiant, so stubborn, just baffles me. I am at a loss. Jelly is sometimes an enigma to me, but then so was Cookie. There were times I just didn't get her, that Cookie confused me. I try and allow them to lead me. I try to let my children teach me what they need. But in this I truly conflicted. When Jelly started preschool I was a little worried. I started looking at the birthdays of the other kids and they were all significantly older than her. One was a full year older than her...the closest in age to her is a full 4 months older. So in her small little class of 11, she is the youngest, by on average 6 months. Six months is HUGE! In class she seems so little. She is a little behind some of the kids, but then they are 4. She is not making the connections with the other kids. She is aloof with the teacher and the other kids. However, she is aloof with almost everybody, even my Mother and her Daddy. Her teacher keeps making remarks like, "Oh it's because she's so young." I heard this phrase repeatedly when Cookie went there to refer to a little boy in Cookie's class. He was an August birthday, too. But he was violent, and mean, and did seem lost and confused. However, I didn't see him being "lost" as being young....I seriously think he had a learning disability, that and something was very very wrong at his home.
I am left wondering, am I THAT PARENT? Am I being closed off to what her teacher is saying? Am I making the right decision? Then I keep thinking....'she is only 3! I am not ready to make this decision until next year. A lot can happen in a year.' Do I change schools? Will the move be even more detrimental to Jelly than moving her along if she is not ready? Why am I so obsessed with this. My poor friends, my mother, my husband, and even strangers have had to hear me adnausium on this subject. I have spent countless hours and sleepless nights worried about it.
I do not know what to do. If I was religious, at least I'd have the comfort of praying for an answer. I sometimes wonder how that goes. But I am not religious, I am a Mother, who wants the best for my child. Is six the new five? We know two families whose little boys are the same age as Jelly...their birthdays are a few weeks after hers and both parents are holding their kids back. Although both admitted that they made that decision when the kids were born. So then I think WTF is wrong with me? I never even considered it! And round and round I go.