Peanut has been in her new preschool now for a week and a half. It seems like it was the right move, and she is enjoying herself, but sometimes it's hard to know. I feel like I have been second guessing myself so much lately - like most of my decision making has been faulty. We had the master bathroom remodeling where I definitely chose the wrong contractor for the job. Then we had the preschool that I was all excited about that turned out to be glorified daycare with letter and number drills. Then we had a fence installed and it turns out I couldn't have made a worse decision about the company to take on that job. So I am feeling a little uneasy with most everything. That makes figuring out how to best nurture my kids a bit of a struggle. I think I know what I am doing and then question everything.
Peanut is alternately garrulous and exuberant or silent and watchful. Most days if we are home or with folks we know really well, she talks and plays and otherwise acts like a three year old. If anything is amiss she will completely clam up. She takes an unbelievably long time (not hours - days or weeks) to warm up to new people and situations, and it can be so frustrating to be the one trying to help coax her to join in or even just say "hello" or "thank you". Honey is pretty quiet and can take some time to get to know so I know she comes by it honestly. He and I have talked a lot about the ways we can help her interact more easily as well as how my perception of her level of enjoyment may be off. He feels fine as an observer, whereas I feel strange just hanging out on the sidelines and not getting into the action. A huge part of choosing to do preschool was that it gives Peanut more opportunities to deal with new situations and people in a safe way. The more positive experiences the better in my way of thinking. But of course, I wonder, should I stick close and help? Should I walk away and let the chips fall? What kind or amount of support would be best? It's all a judgement call, and as I've said, I'm currently questioning mine.
Peanut has begun answering "I don't know" to almost every question, regardless of the kind of question. We could be asking what she liked most about the day, or what she might do with her baby doll, or where she'd like to put her shoes. When we do ask a question with a "right" answer, she still answers that she doesn't know but looks right at the place, color, number, name, picture, whatever, that shows the she does know. We've talked a lot about how it is OK to have lots of ideas and share them with other people, and that everyone has concerns that their thoughts or answers are wrong or silly. We've discussed that thinking about things and coming up with different answers is fine - sometimes thinking of the "wrong" answer helps you get to the "right" one. We've talked about her wants and needs being important - important enough to say out loud.
While I am worried about how Peanut stands back in new situations (or really in any slightly different situation) that does not compare to the worry I have about the "I don't know" thing. Yeah, if this continues and we do decide to send her to public kindergarten, the class size and curriculum guidelines leave little time for a teacher to help my kid engage. I suspect she will be written off rather quickly. But this feeling that she doesn't know or that her thought are not worthy of sharing or that she is sure she is wrong, makes me so sad. I worry that I caused this by being so impatient and frustrated when Pumpkin was born. I worry that I am saying "I don't know" too much. I worry that I have blown off too many of her ideas and now she just gives the standard answer. I worry that she somehow has learned that respect for women's ideas in this world is minimal. I worry about what to do, how to do it, and whether to do anything at all.
I worry. And I know that is not helping. I know that every person is their own person and the illusion of control or influence is often just that. As a parent, I feel like some action is required here, and I'm just not comfortably clear on what that is yet. As much as I'd like to swoop in like some super hero, I think I have to take a back seat here and trust that the answers will come. This is the most difficult part of parenting by far. To sit by while your child struggles is never on your to-do list, but to allow them to grow sometimes I think it has to be.