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Challenge: Back to School 2021

Pandemic or not, the same rules still apply

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“I’m not going to school today!”

I was pouring my first cup of morning coffee when my three-year-old made her announcement.

“Why not?” I asked. My disheveled preschooler stood defiantly in front of me wearing mismatched PJs and a swirly beadhead.

“I don’t want to!” Her right hand gestured into the air as though serving up more attitude.

“Well, you can’t stay home. Mommy and daddy both have to work.”

Her eyes narrowed. She wasn’t going without a fight.

After a few minutes, she begrudgingly agreed to change out of pajamas and chose a psychedelic kitty cat dress for the day, but she flatly refused everything else. Breakfast? Nope. Socks? Nada. Shoes? Definitely not. I placed her shoes, socks, and breakfast in her backpack and accepted that her teacher would have a shoeless, hungry child on their hands.

At the preschool, I confided the dilemma to my daughter’s teacher and handed her the backpack. When I gave my daughter a hug goodbye, she clung to me like tin foil to hot lasagna. The teacher scooped up my shoeless daughter and carried her into the classroom.

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Let’s call this experience: A Learning Opportunity.

I’m eager to get my girls back into the routine of attending school in person, although it’s not fair to expect them to embrace the change. After being at home with me for nearly two years, she knows how to wear a mask, but doesn’t yet have the valuable social skills that result from being around her peers. Going back to school must have felt scary and overwhelming to her. It’s no surprise then, that she tried to set a boundary.

Another thing: I need to give myself more time each morning to manage my girls’ need to negotiate or for me to explain the importance of getting prepared for the day. More time allows me to meet my daughters’ questions and complaints with compassion and understanding. Hopefully, they’ll learn to love shoes, too.

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