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    The Right Time

    “If  you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much.”

    Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

    When I lived with a family in India, the children and their parents were NEVER apart.  One evening I asked my host, Patrick, if he and his wife ever let someone else take care of their children while they went out and had time to themselves.  “Why would we want to be away from our kids?” he answered, “We love being around them.  Why would we want to be somewhere they are not?”

    My husband and I love being around our kids too, but we also cherish the times that we have alone together, and we’re fortunate to have family close by to take care of the girls when we need a break.  However, Pip hasn’t been left alone with anyone other than family in her three years of life.  We’ve enjoyed numerous classes and activities, but they’ve always involved a parent, (or Grandma in our case.)

    With September just around the corner, I find myself faced with a dilemma:

    Do I send Pip to pre-school even though she is saying that she doesn’t want to go, or do I wait a year?  It is of no consequence to our family whether she attends or not; we simply heard of an exceptional programme and thought that the experience would be fantastic for her.

    (Before going further, I should clarify that I realize this is a lovely problem to have.  I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to stay at home with my girls, and even though I’ll be returning to work part-time, my mom is going to be able to care for Pip and Fig.  We’re blessed, and we know it.)

    Nevertheless, this will potentially be a huge transition for Pip, and it warrants some careful consideration.  The pre-school Pip is currently  enrolled at begins in two weeks.  At this point, she says, “I just want to be with you, Mama,” whenever we talk about ‘school,’ so we haven’t been talking about it.  When I ask her about other activities like taking tap-dance lessons or playing soccer, she says, “No thanks, Mama.  I already know how to tap dance.”

    So, I could simply respect Pip’s wishes and limit her activities to those that involve a parent.  I’m sure she’d be happy with that situation, but on the other hand, she might absolutely adore pre-school once she tries it, and I don’t want her to miss out on a fabulous opportunity.   I had originally thought we could treat pre-school the same way we treat new foods.  Pip has to try it, but if she really doesn’t like it, she doesn’t have to go.  Now I’m questioning that philosophy.  My sister advised me  against it,  saying that if we leave an ‘out’ for Pip, she’ll take it.  (Although, when Pip discovers that she likes a new type of food, she keeps eating it!)

    My gut says that it’s going to be tough for Pip.  I’m trying not to relate this feeling to her in any way, but my instinct tells me that there are going to be tears.

    I’ve been having some interesting discussions with other mothers on this topic and I think it’s hard for people to relate unless they have a child like Pip.  All of Pip’s little girlfriends are definitely ready to dive into organized classes without their parents.  They can’t wait to go to school and daycare and hockey practice; but not our little Pip.

    Perhaps the very fact that Pip is reluctant to be on her own is reason enough to insist that she attend pre-school.  It’s a very safe environment, the facilitator is lovely and the group of children is small.  It couldn’t be a better situation for Pip to gradually get used to being on her own.  But is it the right time?  Will there ever be a right time?  Will it only be harder for her if we wait longer?

    I’m of two minds.  On the one hand, I think of my own childhood, and I wasn’t involved in activities away from my mom until I was at least five years old.  There’s no rush!  Pip’s only three!  There will be lots of time to create art and interact with other kids.

    On the other hand,  I think it would be really great for Pip’s confidence and self-esteem to know that she can handle being away from her parents in a new situation.  I think she’ll find it really stimulating, and she’ll make some new friends.  It’s an important step on her path toward independence, but IS THIS THE RIGHT TIME?

    Wait, what am I saying?  There is no ‘right’ time or ‘wrong’ time, is there?  There are just choices that we make for our children and we hope that we’re making decisions in their best interest.  So, is attending school this year in Pip’s best interest?  It could be.  DAMN.  I should know the answer, shouldn’t I?  I’m her mom.  Then again, I’m not her.  She’s not me.  She is her own little person with her own set of emotions and desires.  How can I possibly know if she’s ready for pre-school?  It could go either way.

    To be honest, Fig seems more ‘ready’ than Pip.  Fig is quick to connect with strangers, quick to join activities and happy to try new things.  I have a feeling we’ll all go to pre-school together on the first day, and Fig will run off and play with the other kids while Pip clings to my leg crying, “Don’t leave me, Mama!”

    Some of you know my daughter and  most of you don’t, but I’m sure you all have an opinion and I’d love to hear them!  I know that in the end, my husband and I will make a decision and we’ll just have to trust our instincts.  In the meantime, however, I think it would help to get some objective advice.  Even writing this post to you has helped to clarify the issue.  (It’s clear that I’m indecisive!!!)

    7 comments to The Right Time

    • Aurora

      My thought is that three is still an age where Pip’s comfort level should be acknowledged. Every child is different and if she wants to wait awhile for her independence, another year or even two is absolutely fine. There is no rush… How wonderful that she’d rather spend time with her family….

    • Wendilicious

      An interesting dilemna and yes, how fortunate to have this be yoru dilemna. As you know, our choices were limited regarding me starting the business and childcare options for Carlykins. Family support minimal, a child-sharing situation that had run its course and a need for me to find a setting that would embrace and acknowledge our darlin’ for who she is.
      We are lucky and fortunate to have found that balance.
      Is Carly a better person for it? Does she have increased confidence? Self-esteem?
      Honestly, I don’t know. Our trip to TO to be with her Nana J and 8 other cousins did as much as daycare.

      However, I’m also of the mind that my child (whom shares similar qualities as Pip) needs to be placed outside of her comfort zone in a safe and supportive environment. As a mother, it can be hard for me to afford this. What better place than an environment with trained professionals mixed with peers.

      I’ll look forward to hearing about your decision – and don’t forget you are an exceptional Mother and be confident in what you choose. Don’t get caught in “analysis paralysis” either – go with your gut!!!

    • Karen

      Aurora:
      Thanks for that. You’re voice represents my instincts. (What a surprise, given our connection!)

      Wendilicious:
      BUT ANALYSIS IS MY GIG!!! I hear what you’re saying though, and I appreciate it. You’ve made a potentially tough situation work beautifully for your family. It’s also cool to hear about the successes that Carly has with her day- caregivers. Our kids behave differently for different people, don’t they? It sounds as though you’ve found people who inspire Carly in a positive way. Thanks for your very thoughtful and honest comments my friend.

      Okay folks…the way I read it, that’s two votes for my gut.

    • Tiff

      Sweetness, there isn’t anyone I know that is as tuned in to the universe as you. Trust you gut. Clearly you gave more reasoning in your blog as to why Pip should be allowed to stay home. Let her. Sounds to me that she is young enough that you need to voice her choice but old to know which choice she chooses.
      By honouring her now, you are building on the foundation you have already raised her on, her voice matters. AND… the option is there… no rush. She is gentle spirit who feels connected to you in a very special way. Who knows all the reasons why she wants this extra time with you, but take it. You will be looking back when she’s 13 and remembering those times when you were her number one girl. Cherish it Kar. xoxox

    • Karen

      Ah, Tiffany…wise words from such a young Mama. Pip’s voice does matter. And lately the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. She woke up yesterday and said, “Mama, I think Toto will like school.” Tomorrow we’re going to have a special meeting with her teacher, just the three of us having a little how-do-you-do…we’ll see how that goes and take it from there.

      13 will be here before we both know it, won’t it Tif?

      Cherish is the word.
      xxxback at ya!

    • Katherine

      Hi Karen!

      I know you’ll make the right decision for Pip, but I do understand the uncertainty. And you’re right, it doesn’t take long before they’re 13! Maggie starts high school tomorrow, and that feels like such a big change for us all. I’ve been so lucky to work at her school for the last 5 years, and it will be really weird to not see her when I’m at work…weird for Owen too.

      Mags is so excited about this new adventure, so that makes it easier for us as well. If Pip is really dreading playschool, then my instinct is that she’s not ready. (If she never goes to playschool, that’s OK too! I’m sure she has lots of chances to socialize, and she obviously has a very stimulating environment at home.) But, if she’s showing glimpses of interest, then I say take her and see what she thinks once she’s tried it. I’m sure you can gradually phase her into it, and if she still doesn’t want to go, then forget it!

      You’ll do the right thing for her, I have no doubt!

      So glad I finally checked out this page! I miss you!

    • Karen

      I miss you too Katherine, and thank you for the great advice. I can’t believe Maggie is in high-school….HOLY HANNAH!!! I’m taking Pip for her first day without parents tomorrow morning. She had an initial meeting with her teacher, then a ‘meeting new friends’ day with the other kids in her class, and both experiences were positive, so we’ll see how it goes tomorrow.

      Have I told you that I miss you too??? And I just missed chatting with you online. Sheesh. We’ve got to connect for a proper visit. Until then, thanks for checking in! xo

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