Lucy the Brave

Last Monday, Lucy started a new Montessori school. It's more like real school, as opposed to the Montessori-leanining daycare she's been attending for the past year and a half. We loved her old school, but we were ready for her to move to something a little more structured, with smaller ratios and more instruction.

It felt like she was ready too, because she'd begun to have problems at the old school. On her last Thursday there (which ended up being her last day because she got sick), she BIT a kid because he wouldn't hold her hand like she'd asked him too. Her teacher explained that Lucy had always been bossy, but now that the other kids were getting to be more developed, they didn't like it. Lucy defended herself by saying that she asked him nicely and she had only bitten his shirt.

And so she escaped being a pariah by mere days. This fresh start has big, cheery classrooms (inside a seemingly abandoned, 60s-era strip mall). It has Spanish, gymnastics, karate and tennis. It has COMPUTERS (not unlike the ones I used to learn to program BASIC when I was nine, but still, computers). It has a school bus.

Lu started the week with great anticipation and a successful first day. But by Wednesday, she was scared of taking a nap. By Thursday, she was fretting and losing sleep over going to school at all. The kid had insomnia. She wanted me to rock her in the green chair and "just talk about school, okay?" I tried to ask questions and focus on the positive, but all she could tell me was that she didn't want to go to school, she didn't want to take a nap, and she didn't like the friends at the new school. She didn't want to talk about school, just to talk her way out of going. Her anxiety was heartbreaking.

Friday morning was hell. Our only comfort was that Mrs. Robinson, her gentle genius teacher, was able to calm her, and she made it through lunch. Saturday, she woke up happy and then she "I don't want to go to school!!!" Not Saturday, Sunday, Monday, never. She'd stay home by herself with her guys and Duck. "I won't be lonely, okay?"

Then Saturday night, she and Granny had a slumber party. Being away must have helped her get some perspective on the whole school thing. By Sunday, she was telling us she wanted to go to school and take a nap. She woke up this morning and said again that she wanted to go to school and take a nap. She said she didn't need to bring a Duck or anyone because she was really big. I told her she should have options: maybe we should take someone just in case. She decided on Baby Rosie.

"Babe, are you sure you don't want to take Duck?"
"I just want Baby Rosie. Duck and Stripe can stay in the car."
"But won't Baby Rosie be lonely? You should take Duck to keep her company."
"Then Stripe will be lonely in the car."
"I will take Stripe in the office with me."
"Duck and Stripe can be company at your office and I will be company with Baby Rosie."
"And when I get to school, I'll have Baby Rosie and I'll wear a big smiley face, because Mrs. Robinson wants to see a smiley face."

And she did. She said "Bye, Mom" and asked for hugs and kisses over and over again, with manic forced happiness masking her tears. I am not sure if she did it for my sake or her own, but watching her made me proud and sad. I realized why she wanted to leave Duck behind: it's hard to keep a stiff upper lip when you're sucking your thumb.