Do you like my title? Eye catching, isn’t it? I’m not one to swear online (trying to keep my G-rated business as close to G as possible….H on occasion, then I draw the line), but it’s not really me who said it first. I’m just the messenger in this story.
Sunrise Montessori is a child care center and we’re also an academic and loving place for children, happily performing our jobs in such a way that you can’t imagine having your child attend anywhere else. It’s our motto (and our street cred is important to us). So imagine my surprise at this conversation I had earlier this week. It went something like this…
Scene, Exterior, No masks
Woman in her 30s…”So what do you do?”
“I own a Montessori preschool business,” I say proudly.
She looks at me with a pained expression. “I wish I could put my child in preschool right now, but the guilt would eat me alive.”
Sighs heavily, wistfully. “I feel like a crappy parent because I want my daughter to be at preschool. I want to do my job without interruption, I want to see her happier, but I can’t because of the guilt of possibly exposing my child to Covid when I could keep her at home.”
Being a parent, especially a mom, is not for the weak of heart. The constant messages we receive from the media, from other moms, even from ourselves negatively frame our perspective in a way that can be unhealthy and just plain exhausting. Once your worrying has become deep-rooted, it’s hard to unentrench yourself from its grip.
I’ve cited sources in previous blogs about Covid and children, but that’s not what this blog is about. I understand Covid is a virus that is unprecedented. However, for this blog, I’m addressing the very real, very damaging narrative that’s going around about parenting, our children and what they need.
Children require SO many things to keep them developing cognitively, socially and emotionally on all thrusters and they can acquire them ALL by having good parents and attending at a high quality preschool. What if, suddenly and abruptly, YOU were isolated at home with your parents for a year or more? No friends to dress up Barbie before that big interview for her dream job, no bros to build lego forts with, not even a simple day at the park meeting new friends and learning why it’s important not to stand at the end of the slide. How can our children develop an awareness of others, their environment and the roles of people in it, learning all the things they need to become the best version of themselves, if they are not around others beyond their home life? If they are not learning varying academic subjects or testing their actions and making choices or simply witnessing behaviors of other children to determine how to behave, then is your child absorbing what they need? How are you as a parent supposed to be all things to your child? It’s an impossible request, an unrealistic burden no one should carry.
I asked our amazing parents at Sunrise Montessori why they have their children at our school instead of at home (the moms I spoke with work from home and had unenrolled their children for a while earlier this year, then brought them back to us). They all told me a version of the same message. They worried more about what would happen to their children long term if they weren’t at school. One mom noticed that her son wasn’t speaking nearly as much and his vocabulary was almost regressing, like “he was frozen in time.” Another mom shared that her daughters were increasingly pushing the boundaries at home; she saw herself getting worn down and giving in more, and was concerned “who they were turning into.” A third mom saw her child “losing his light” by not being around others. Like a plant not getting enough water and sunshine, their children were wilting, their growth halted, their leaves yellowing. But they could fix it! They could help their child not just survive, but thrive. Seeing them skip literally into school to hug their teacher and friends, beaming with pride when their child showed them what they created that day in art or what lesson they learned, and watching them run across the playground with an unconscious grin, they knew they had made the right choice.
You aren’t a crappy parent for bringing your child to school. You are being their advocate. Children can’t see what they need like adults can, but you, their mom or dad, do. We are the historian of our child’s life and it is our job as their parent to give them the light of learning, the water of wisdom and the fertilizer of friends. But how do they get that alone at home on a tablet with just us?
When Covid first hit this past March, my sixteen year old was sent home to finish his sophomore year in his room with a laptop. He had joined the track team, was earning all A’s and one B, and had friends to hang with on weekends. Fast forward five months to early August. Despite our encouragement, he had stopped running and gained 20 pounds. His friends’ parents wouldn’t let them out of the house, so just he slept, ate and gamed online. Our only interactions with him were at best tepid, at worst, well, you can guess. He was miserable. Even though we’re blessed to have a bright kid, his grades dropped because learning Chemistry and taking labs on a computer are not exactly ideal. I saw him fall into the beginnings of depression, so when school opened back up and they gave the option of returning to the classroom (he attends a private school), we said yes. Today? He’s on the cross country team and has lost 15 pounds. He ran in two meets now, improving his run time. He’s happily attending class, earning straight A’s, and hangs with his classmates on weekends. I can hear the happiness back in his voice and feel like he’s thriving again. He of course wears a mask at school and has to adhere to other sanitizing and social distancing measures (hey, I’m not a crappy parent, but I’m not a crazy one either), yet we got him back on the right path. He’s doing WELL.
Take a moment to assess your child’s development, think back to what they were like before March, and ask yourself how he or she is truly doing now. If they aren’t thriving, school may be the answer. I saw a bumper sticker once that said, “Vote like your freedom depends on it.” Hard parenting decisions are easier when it’s the right one. And the adults our children are slowly becoming are counting on us to make them.
Sunrise Montessori Preschool has two locations in Round Rock. Interested in learning first hand what we can offer your child? Then book a tour on our website at Sunrise-Montessori.com or call us so you can discover why Sunrise Montessori Preschool is where YOUR family belongs!