Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I don’t know how to do this!

by: Joelle Charbonneau

First off, let me apologize to you all for unloading, but I have to talk to someone. You are the lucky folks! So here’s the deal. The tot started preschool last week. YAY! He was excited to go. I was delighted to see him walk into the classroom without a backward glance. Honest. I couldn’t have been happier. Which is why I’m having a dilemma now.

I think I’m doing this parenting thing wrong.

Okay, I know parenting isn’t a science. There are hundreds if not thousands of books on the subject of parenting and most of them probably disagree with each other. Still, most of my friends profess to have been weepy when their child started school. My lack of tears makes me feel as if I’ve blown this mother gig. Was I supposed to cry? It’s not like I don’t love having him home with me. He’s a happy child. He can entertain himself when I need to take a phone call or get some e-mails written. When I go off to Bouchercon this week I’ll miss him terribly.

But I didn’t cry. Not one tear. I wasn’t worried about whether he’d like preschool. Clearly, he was delighted to be going. I wasn’t worried if he’d miss me or if he was growing up to fast. The teachers are lovely ladies and the parents who know and have worked with them in the past love them, so the care and attention my son would receive didn’t worry me.

No. My only worry was for the stress level of the teachers themselves. Particularly when faced with my very active and cheerful child. Because he deals with me day in and day out, he listens to me. (Well, as much as any child of 3 listens to anyone.) However, for those he does not know as well – all bets are off. If he likes to do something, he’ll be attentive. If not…he cheerfully goes about entertaining himself in another way. Which is probably why instead of shedding a tear for the growing up of my precious and highly precocious child, I wished his teachers well and ran for the hills. When I picked him up – all was well. My son loved school. His teachers were in one piece.

Today is his second day of preschool and once again I am delighted to walk him to the classroom and leave him explore the world around him. No sadness. Still, no tears. (Still a little worry for the two instructors, but the tot and I are having a dialogue about listening to his teachers.)

I cry at Hallmark commercials. I weep through books and movies. And yet not a single tear for my son’s first adventure into schooling. And I can’t figure out why. So tell me Stiletto Gang friends—am I doing this parenting thing all wrong?

***And in case anyone is keeping score - SKATING OVER THE LINE launches in two weeks.  I plan on dry eyes and lots of happiness on that day, too!***


  1. Hi Joelle,

    Great post.

    I have four kids. When son number three went off to Kindergarten, I came home and cried for a half hour. Which explains why we have a fourth child. HOWEVER, when she went off to preschool (at the age of two), I skipped out of school just like you. I adore my daughter, but I was delighted that she was going to school and so was she.

    Enjoy and congrats on the launch of Skating Over the Line!


  2. Joelle, here's a secret: none of us know what we're doing. Some of us are just better at pretending that we do. I remember that when child #2 went to kindergarten, his was the first class to go all day. I was sad at first that he wouldn't be going to half-day kindergarten but by the second week, when 3:00 rolled around, I wondered where the day had gone and if I should put him in an after-school program. (I didn't.) I'm glad your tot is enjoying preschool. That's a sign of a well-adjusted child. :-) Maggie

  3. LOL I'm counting the minutes till all day kindergarten next year!! So no your just fine!! I think I was slightly weepy with my son but neither of my kids seemed to care if I was there or not once they got to preschool so I sure didn't look back! Felt pretty sorry for the parent with a kid wrapped around their leg!!
    Shannon Johnson!

  4. All this was so long ago for me I can barely remember. With five kids though, I can tell you that I was always happy to launch one into the new world of being a school kid. Of course back in the day it also meant I got launched into being room mother, PTA newsletter chairman and PTA president four times.

  5. We have to remember each child is different. My oldest son was ready for school before school was ready for him. He was thrilled to meet the world on his own. He has grown up into a very family oriented man. Which is strange, because while he lived at home I had to rely on his friends to let me know what was happening in his world. My other kids liked having their parents involved in their life. The personality of the child is what determines how we deal with them. You are a fantastic parent! Give yourself a pat on the back. The child can stand on his own feet.

  6. Joelle,

    I barely know you but my sense is that you don't tend to be too angsty (Is that a word?) Your writing career has been fairly matter-of-fact, as compared to others. You have not studied writing craft books to the point of memorizing them. There hasn't been a lot of writer's block or drama. When the baby, now tot, napped, you wrote. Fairly straight forward.
    That philosophy has been passed to him now. More power to you both!

  7. Oh, Joelle, I'm about to make you feel a whole lot better! I've sent three kids off to nursery school and did not shed a single tear over any of them! I too can boohoo over a Hallmark commercial but keep a pretty stiff upper lip when it comes to my kids. When the middle one was very ill and spent a couple of years with Children's Hospital as a more permanent address than this one, I didn't tear up over that either. I'm sure the neighbors thought I was horrible. Personally, I think it got her through. Was I damaged? Were they? IDK, but one just started graduate school, my thespian/athlete is in high school, and the now well kid is in her second year of college on pretty much a full ride. So do what comes naturally to you and your son. If he's happy and well adjusted then I say you are doing exactly the right thing!

  8. That is the sign of a well adjusted kid! Don't stress yourself over the tears or lack of them. You both sound ready to make the transition and are enjoying it too. Good job Mom!! : )

  9. Joelle, whatever you're doing (and feeling) is exactly right for you! I think we all worry too much about what others must think of us, and we'd be a lot less stressed if we didn't care! You're an amazing person, and I know that translates into being a great mom. So just be yourself, and you'll be fine (and so will your kids!). :-)