Over the summer we read books about school and played school; she has teachers whom she knows; she has family friends in her class; she took classes and went to day camp to practice being away from Cand I; I acknowledge her anxiety and heartache; we reinforce all that she gets to do at school and still come home to do; she takes photos and mementos to school; we remind her how she didn't like staying home last year when her sister and her friends started school; I've stopped walking all the way into class with her and we do abbreviated goodbyes; her big sister has permission to have lunch with her if she wants it and talks to her about how to not feel sad from a kid's point if view; we have stickers for everyday she goes to school plus another one if she goes without crying; and more.
But she goes to sleep anxious, she is sad in the mornings and she sobs for me for an hour at school. My social bouncy daughter is quiet and sometimes l find her lying in her bedroom floor staring into space with the oddest look on her face. and this isnt about being tired or needing to recharge. I know how she is when she is in need of that very important "me time". When I pick her up it takes until we are off school property and then she runs and dances with glee.
We have individual expectations of our girls because they are so different in awesome ways. So we didnt expect L to love school and learn how to read before the age of five. but she is more adept in social situations then R was at this age; and she comes home with some stories of playing with or talking to other kids. I suspected the reality of school every day would be surprising to L and I know it is only the third week of school but her heartache is palpable and it is taking all of my mama strength and mama logic to not keep her home with me when she cries out for me and wraps here tiny body around kind like a little monkey.
I want to teach my girls that they can do hard things, that life isn't always easy and that new things are yards. I want to teach them to step up to the challenge and to understand that they can miss someone and survive and more importantly taut the person they love is still there for them emotionally even when separated physically. But isn't that a lot to ask of a four year old? Maybe L just isn't ready? Maybe being with her baby sister who howls and sobs for her at the morning drop off, who handed L her backpack when she started crying and said "home"; who calls out for her in the middle of the night-maybe keeping them together is more important right now. Because L is social and independent and smart and strong but right now she isn't acting like any of those things and I don't think she is feeling like she is any of those things.
So what's a mama to do?