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Preschool Changed My Daughter In Ways I Never Would Have Imagined

by Toni Hammer
Toni Hammer chronicles her mommy misadventures at ToniHammer.com and spends too much time on Facebook and Twitter. She writes for Scary Mommy, Babble, The Huffington Post and other sites that she can't remember because she's exhausted from being a SAHM to two toddlers. She drowns her mommy guilt in copious amounts of coffee and Diet Coke.

Before my four-year-old daughter even knew she would be attending preschool in the fall, she was talking about it. She would ask when she would get to go. She would talk about all the new friends she would make. She even made up an imaginary teacher. When I’d ask her if she learned something she’d say, “My teacher taught me.” Some children have imaginary friends — my daughter had an imaginary authority figure.

Needless to say, when the time came for her to actually begin preschool she was beyond thrilled. It was all she talked about. To anyone. Everywhere. When we went to Target to pick out her school backpack (she picked Frozen of course) she told three customers and the checker that it was for school and she was a big girl and she was starting next week!

I had her hold a “first day of preschool” sign and took her picture because that’s what the social media gods would want. I cried a little because my baby was starting preschool. And then I waited. I waited for her to come home. I waited to hear about her first day.

Everything went well. She had a great time. She made friends. She was excited to go back. My baby had grown up in just a few hours one afternoon.

So much has changed since she began school. Some things for the best and some things haven’t been so great. For instance, after coming home from her third day of school she jokingly referred to something her younger brother was doing as “stupid.” She had never used that word before and when my gaze shot her way, I could see in her eyes the uncertainty of whether she was allowed to actually use that word or not.

She had obviously learned it at school and was testing new boundaries that had suddenly opened up to her now that she was around new kids in a new environment away from my SAHM prying eyes. It goes without saying that I quickly shut down her using that word ever again and she sincerely apologized.

One of my biggest fears about my children going to school is the negativity they would hear, see, be faced with. I know using the word “stupid” is a far cry from what could happen, but it still made me worry about her future because all I want is what’s best for her and sometimes what’s at school isn’t done or said with the best of intentions.

However, it hasn’t all been bad and I’d be remiss to only focus on the negative.

For one, she instantly became more helpful. Now, believe me, my daughter was born more maternal than me. She has always been loving and nurturing and caring to those around her. But there was a newfound confidence when she came home from her first week. She had somehow become more self-reliant, more independent.

She put her dishes in the sink without asking. She followed the house rules better. She helped her brother without needing to be directed. She just did these things. It was a remarkably quick transition and one I was not at all expecting.

I’m excited to see who she becomes as this school year progresses. I’m excited to hear more stories about what she has learned, who she’s played with, and what she’s excited about.

I know not all changes will be good, there will be sadness and consequences, but that’s life and it’s a path we all must walk. I’m looking forward to walking it with her.

For more from Toni Hammer, visit Is It Bedtime Yet and Facebook