New Kid On the Block

While I get used to my new schedule of living in three hour chunks of “bottle-feed, diaper change, get some sleep, repeat,” I have another Sluiter Nation Recruit to introduce you to.

Today I bring you one of my favorite Canadians…Robin of Farewell, Stranger.

Robin has long been a special blogger to me.  She and I bonded over our shared struggle with PPD, and this past August I was so blessed to be able to hug her in person.  She is one whom I did not get enough time with when I met her.  I wanted so badly to sit across from her and have a quiet cup of coffee and just chat.  Unfortunately, with all the loud, busyness of the conference…and my weird anti-social-ness due to being sick pregnant and on the verge of antenatal depression, I just didn’t get to properly connect with all the people I wanted to.

Some day I hope to get a second chance at that.

But today she is here.  In my little corner of the internet.  And she is sharing a worry I understand too well…the one about whether or not our child(ren) will belong.

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be.long [bih-lawng, –long]

verb (used without object)

To have the proper qualifications, especially social qualifications, to be a member of a group. You don’t belong in this club.

 

As I write, my son is at his first day at his new preschool. In March. He didn’t seem nervous as he left with his dad to go the few blocks to the school, but I certainly was.

We moved to a new city in November, so he’s been out of school for three months. He was only in preschool for three months in our old city, but one of the boys in his class was one of his best buds so for some reason that seemed less like sending him out into the great unknown. Here, he knows no one. Doesn’t know any of the other kids and of course doesn’t know the teachers.

And you know what? He seems totally unfazed by this.

We went to visit the school a few weeks ago in an attempt to get him a spot in the four-year-old class this fall. (While there, we talked to one of the teachers who mentioned that they had an opening coming up for the current year, so she dug up the waiting list and there we were. We had to wait a few weeks, but at least he’ll get to finish this year.) He understood that we were visiting a new preschool and it didn’t take him long to be comfortable in that environment. The bucket of Lego pretty much sealed the deal.

We talked to the teachers and looked at the facility and the programming. It all seemed fine, and the location is really convenient, but how is a mom to know if her child will do well there?

When I talked to him this morning about going to his new school, I was expecting him to be nervous. Because that’s what mothers do, isn’t it? We project our nervousness onto our kids, who, in many situations, wouldn’t think there’s anything to be nervous about. Especially when there’s Lego involved.

I don’t actually have any reason to worry about Connor. He’s quite outgoing and he likes playing with other kids. He doesn’t care if he knows them, and as long as they don’t push him he generally comes home with little to complain about. (And if they do it’s a good opportunity to remind him that he’s been known to push a child or two here and there and to remind him what it feels like to be pushed.)

His social skills are pretty good and he’s quite good about sharing. He’s got an incredibly kind heart, and seeing him try to include others makes my mama heart swell with pride and love for him.

He’s not nervous and probably has no reason to be. So why am I? Because, like all mothers, I want good things for my child. I want him to learn and have fun, but most of all – especially at this age when it’s less about the lessons and more about the socialization – I want him to belong.

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Thank you so much, Robin, for being here today.

So, friends, have you been there?  Have you worried about your kid(s) belonging to a new group or fitting in in a new situation?

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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. Robin, I worry all the time, probably too much, about whether my toddler will belong, fit in. He’s always been his own person and he’s naturally cautious and wary of new situations and people. We’ll probably send him to preschool when he’s 3, and it makes me nervous, more so than he will be, quite likely.

    It’s totally natural to want them to belong – we just want them to be happy. And from the sounds of it, Connor sounds like he will totally be happy 🙂

    • I think it’s totally normal for us to be more nervous than they are. I hope your monkey will do well. I’m always amazed at how adaptable they are.

  2. I think part of the mommy job description is to worry. We worry they aren’t eating enough as infants. We worry if they aren’t hitting certain milestones. We worry when they start school. And according to my own mother, that worrying never stops even after they’re all grown up.

    With each of my 3 kids, I’ve sent them off to preschool and then elementary school and every year, I’m more nervous than they are on the first day. While I sit there clutching a Kleenex, fighting back the anxious tears, they always just walk off with a wave barely giving me a second glance.

    Now? I find I’m worrying more about how they fit in that they’re in middle & high school. Teenagers can be so very mean. And no mom wants that for her baby.

    • Oh, I can’t bear to think about when he’s a teenager. A couple of weeks after he started he told me out of the blue that he had no friends. And of course he didn’t yet, but he was convinced he wouldn’t make any. So sad, and it would be worse if he were teased or bullied.

  3. oh Robin..first I’m so excited to see you here as a part of the nation.

    and as moms, YES, we all worry, we worry that our kids will be told they don’t belong or they will feel that from their peers. I worry about my boys leaving the place they’ve been since they were 6 months old and going into Kindergarten with kids they don’t know, at a Catholic school that will look so much different than the diverse place they are coming from. Sure, I worry and I fret and I stay up and THINK and need Xanax, 😉 but in the end, I just have to trust that they are going to be ok..and if I’m ever not sure..I’ll come here and ask for support, just like you can ALWAYS do with me. xoxo

  4. Been there a few times. With my oldest I was more worried about whether she’d keep her clothes on at preschool. She did. Shoes, not so much! The others I was more worried about them fitting in and not being scared. They were fine! All 3 of my kids moved to new communities and schools as they got older, and that was much tougher. My oldest moved mid-way through her middle school years. SHE was fine, but the girls were mean and nasty, and that broke my heart. She figured it out though and refused to allow me to intervene. She then went to private school the following year and had to settle in again, but she did great. My son moved as a freshman in high school after his dad had a serious stroke so he moved to live with me. He likes everyone, everyone likes him. Of course, it helped that we built a skateboard ramp in our backyard. He was the popular kid :). My youngest just moved this year in 6th grade. Went from private school of 15 in her whole grade to 3 full classrooms of 6th graders. No problem and she didn’t know a soul at the school!! I’m amazed at all 3 of my kids for their resiliency and adaptability. Did I worry? You betcha. Did it prove to be a waste of time? Yep! But, it’s what we do when our kids are venturing into a new environment.

  5. YES. Yes. Absolutely. My daughter starts K in August and hasn’t ever been to school. I think I am going to be ill about it. Honestly my stomach is clenching up right now. But she is excited and ready to start already. And I want to cry.

    What a beautifully written post on mommy moments. Thank you for reminding me (us) we’re all in this together.

    Robin, I puffy heart you. And Katie, you, too. Hope you’re doing well, mama!

  6. Yes, yes, and yes. I can so relate to this. Just this year my two oldest switched schools. From public to private… I still worry, but the two of them adjusted swimmingly. Next one up is my little one… I don’t even want to think about putting her in preschool…ugh. I’m so glad all went well for your son and hopefully, you can worry a little less now.

  7. I have to confess I don’t worry about my 3 kids in pre-school belonging because they are so confident and love it. I worry about me belonging all the time. It’s so easy for my kids to make friends but it I’d s struggle for me.

    I do worry about Sophia starting kindergarten in fall a little, big she is already so excited I think I have no need to have concern.

    Your little guy will do great!

  8. We’re going to be changing daycare in the next few months and I’m all upset about him changing places, leaving his friends, and do we use a center by our house or do we go with one near where he is now, but he’ll have to move again later? Ugh. But I know he’ll be just fine. He probably won’t care. Or he’ll be even happier. But still … I worry that he won’t fit in, won’t have friends, or will be sad there. Sigh.

    • It’s so hard not to worry about them. When we moved I agonized over him leaving his friends (and yes, at times it has been sad) but overall it doesn’t seem like nearly as big a transition as I worried it would be. Hope yours does well too!

  9. I think I worry because I feel like I never belong and that I will inadvertently pass on my poor friend making skills to my son

  10. I bet he did awesome, Robin. But I totally get where you are coming from. It’s hard to watch our kids put themselves out there. Really, really hard.

    • Yep, he did well and it’s been good for him to be back in school and all the things that come with it. But you’re so right – I never imagined how hard it would be to watch them have to do this stuff.

  11. Oh, I worry all the time about this. Abbey is really shy, and I worry that she won’t get to shine in public situations the way I see her shine at home. Dylan is a little more easygoing, and I worry about HIM that he will just go with the flow a little too much. I guess I am just a worrier 🙁