What It’s Like

Julia Arnold essays

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We all have hopes and fears when our children start school. Will he have fun? Will the teachers like him? Will he make friends? My biggest fear when my son started preschool was the separation anxiety I was sure he would suffer. I pictured tearful goodbyes, countless tight hugs, and repeated assurances that I would be back soon. However, the reality of Motherhood—that friendly foe—surprised me yet again. It wasn’t my son’s separation anxiety that led to the phone calls and whispered discussions at the classroom door. It was his behavior, or his “acting out.”   

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be the parent of the trouble-maker, the difficult one, the challenge? The parent who the teacher regularly calls into the classroom during pick-up? The one who waits for the daily phone call?

Please, live through me:

You drop your child off at preschool, praising the good behavior, admonishing the bad. The teacher visibly bristles upon seeing you. There is a hopeful, hurried kiss goodbye.  Encouragement to be good and have fun.

You go about your chores, work, errands. Trying to distract yourself from what might be happening at school.

Your heart thumps a bit as you drive back to the school. Your stomach churns. You take a deep breath and say a little prayer that your talk of rewards—and your warnings of time-outs—have made an impact. 

He waves, smiling when you get to the door. He looks happy. That's a good sign, you dare to think. You exhale a bit. 

The flustered teacher quickly walks over to greet you at the door, whispering under her breath that your son threw sand at a kid on the playground, pushed or pulled someone, refused to wear mittens, etc.

Immediately deflated, you apologize, baffled, and think this can’t be my kid. You assure her that you are working on it at home. 

Red-faced, you walk briskly to safety of your car, holding his soft little hand. You buckle him into his booster seat and look back at his sweet innocent face. The one you love more than anything. Your heart breaks a little.

But you soldier on, clutching onto the familiar, comforting mom-mantra: this too shall pass.

Read more from Julia here!

About the Author

Julia Arnold

Julia Arnold is a mom of two young kids living in the Twin Cities who is still coming to terms with the fact that her counters are always sticky, and her floor is never clean. She writes about the less glamorous side of new motherhood on her blog .

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