Two and a half years ago when I brought my oldest son to daycare for his first day, the daycare staff kept reassuring me, “He’s fine! Don’t worry! He’ll love it here!” I wept as I walked from the daycare center to my work. I called hourly to check in on his status (most of the time it was: “napping”). Needless to say, the adjustment was much more traumatic for new mom me than it was for my little baby.
At one point early on, the center director told me that in the baby room, parents visited their children everyday on lunch breaks, and popped in often throughout the day to say hi or just look in on their babies. But, to my shock and disbelief, once their children reached the toddler room, parents could only be seen around the center at the designated drop off and pick up times. I have a toddler come preschooler now. And guess what? I get it.
A few weeks ago we reached another major milestone in our lives, as my son had his first day of nursery school. And this time it was my son who did more of the crying.
Toddlers and preschoolers are (obviously) much more aware of their environments than young babies, who are happy so long as they are being cuddled, fed, kept clean, and have enough sleep. While our children’s physical needs become less demanding the older they get, the emotional demands increase twentyfold. Combine that with a healthy dose of boundary pushing and parental defiance often referred to as the terrible twos (or threes or fours!), we may be sleeping through the night, but we’re often more exhausted.
So I admit it. I dropped my son off at nursery school for his first day, and with a zip in my step I sped away to relish the three hours I would have by myself (well, with my young baby). But, in my defense, I couldn’t wait to pick him up and see him after!
How do you cope with your “terrible” two year old? How do you find parenting a preschooler different than a baby? And… are you as exhausted as I am???