“I just enrolled Tabby in preschool for September! I’m already crying!” read the post on Facebook. (Tabby’s name has been changed so that her mother doesn’t think I am an absolute crazy person.) I had been scrolling through my feed, trying to kill some time during reruns of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
My two-year-old fidgeted from toy to toy, while occasionally looking up at the TV in front of us. I had planted my ass firmly on our couch, having woken up pregnant again today, just as I have for the 35 weeks of mornings prior to this one.
All I wanted was some peace, with a side of quiet, and perhaps a bit of uninterrupted time to myself. Instead what I got was a burst of adrenaline and a racing heart. I sat straight up in my seat and immediately clicked on the comments. Wait, preschool? What?!
Tabby was two weeks younger than my own toddler, and the thought of preschool had literally never crossed my mind. Holy shit, I dropped the ball. This stupid second pregnancy was literally eating my brain cells. (Pregnancy after 35 seems to turn your skull into a juicer and makes short work of your cerebral cortex.)
Did I go to preschool? That comes right before kindergarten, right? Surely, it couldn’t be that time already. My daughter only turned two four months ago. Kindergarten still starts at five, right? Or has that changed, too?
All of these questions swirled through my head as I tried to read everything I could that my friend and other people were saying about preschool. Was I too late? Could I just call the same preschool and ask them for more information? Wait, do you have to pay for preschool? Holy crap, how much does preschool cost?
It took me a good five minutes reading Facebook comments, followed by some embarrassing Google searches to figure out what was going on. I hadn’t dropped the ball. I hadn’t failed my daughter. Not yet.
I finally took to my trusty digital mom group and asked the question, “What’s the deal with preschool?” Only I asked it more like this: “Guys, WTF is the deal with preschool? Am I supposed to be registering my two-year-old? Help! I need an adult!” Because I am all about the overreaction.
They quickly gave me all the information I needed (all the information I could have gotten for myself if I had just relaxed for one second, taken a deep breath, and consulted Google before losing my shit).
Yes, preschool is a thing that some people do. No, not everyone has to do it. There are various types and requirements. Some of them need your kid to be at least three. Some need your kid to be potty trained. It’s really all up to you if you want to send them.
I took some calming breaths and relaxed a bit. My heart stopped racing. I hadn’t ruined my daughter’s life after all or totally dropped the ball on some fundamental part of her development.
“Okay, follow up question,” I typed. “How do you guys know all of this? Like, why don’t I know these things?” I got a couple of different answers – most of them reasonable responses, like they learned from friends or family members who had children before them. Some just learned as they went. Others said they knew their kids needed some structure or additional stimulation and sought it out.
Not one of them said that they saw the word “preschool” and panicked. Apparently, I was the only one who responded like it was like the first time they ever heard of preschool and immediately took to Facebook to crowdsource the gaps in their parenting skills.
Parenting is one of the few things that I don’t really seem to get any better at the longer I do it.
I mean, I’ve been at this for over two years now. I’m about to re-up with a new kid, and I only feel slightly more prepared than I did the first time around. Mostly, I feel like I have already forgotten everything, like when you start tummy time. I don’t remember anything about tummy time anymore!
How do I still feel so unsure of what I’m doing?
Does this ever get easier?
Should I enroll my daughter in preschool?
These are all questions I’ll probably never have the answers to. Just like I will never know how I’ve managed to keep this small human alive for the past two years, and whether we should start using flash cards to learn numbers.
The one thing I do know is that I’m not alone. I think most people feel like they have no idea what they’re doing and, like me, they’re just flying by the seat of their pants. I take some perverse comfort in that idea.
While it sucks to feel like you’re out of your element, knowing that I’m not alone out here makes it a little bit better. A little bit.
Now, if someone could just tell me how many blueberries are too many blueberries to eat in a day for someone who weighs approximately 26 pounds, that would be swell.