It’s Time to Eat My Words: My Son is Going to Preschool

Yes, the mom who got her fifteen minutes of fame one year ago from an article she wrote entitled “Benign Neglect: A Case Against Preschool” is now sending her son to preschool.

Yes, I changed my mind.

I don’t often change my mind about anything. But it’s time to eat my words… a little bit. Time to shove that blog post partially in my mouth and partially chew it.

I wrote that blog post in August of 2013. It was selected by wordpress.com to be featured on their home page as a “freshly pressed” blog post. Suddenly, I had hundreds of likes and followers. Suddenly, a whole lot of people were listening to me – when I was simply trying to document my crazy parenting for my three small sons.

I stand by what I wrote. I still believe that parents and teachers should not push children too quickly. I still believe that play is serious and important work for toddlers and preschoolers. I still believe that memorization is not learning. I still believe in the necessity of free time for children. I still believe in ending the competition and the Mommy Wars. (I even started a Facebook group for like-minded mommas.) I have nothing to prove, and neither do my children.

However, I have decided to send my son to (a play-based and non-pushy) preschool for several mornings per week this year. Why? I said I didn’t quit my teaching career so that someone else could teach my son, and I meant it. But I also said that the only thing that would convince me to change my mind would be the twins coming up behind him.

three on fenceThe twins prevent us from having a normal life. It has become clear to me that my son needs something of his own. He needs time away from the babies. He has plenty of socialization with kids his age – playgroups, walking groups, swim lessons – but he needs time away from the world of the babies. He needs time away from the baby gates that hamper his independence. He needs time away from the twin fights.

I can’t give him everything that he needs right now. So much of our day-to-day life is consumed with surviving: meals, clean-up, poops, repeat. I am not finding time to teach him the things that I wanted to teach him. I am just not able to live up to the dreams I had in my head. I am a professional: I am trained specifically for his four-to-six year old age bracket… and yet, my teaching skills seem to be on a shelf that is just too high for me to reach right now. It breaks my heart.

I know this is the right thing for him. I still practice “benign neglect”, but now I have a case in favor of preschool. I’ll have to be “okayest” with that.

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What Happens When You Start Blogging

So, I guess blogging is like having a reality show: you are supposed to pretend the audience and cameras aren’t there, right? Like a Teen Mom who was struggling to repair her crappy car in the first season, but in the second season she has a brand new Jeep?  Except we aren’t supposed to know that she knows that she is famous now.

So I am supposed to pretend that I don’t notice that I have 199 followers now and almost 5000 views in the space of just two weeks? Well, screw that, I noticed. I started this blog for my kids. I have a bad memory, and something about twins and sleep deprivation compounds that problem. (Go figure.) I knew a couple people who were interested in reading what I had to say. Then WordPress hand-picked one of my blog posts to be featured on their Freshly Pressed homepage. They even sent me a non-form email about why they picked me! It was flattering.

The next day, my blog had blown up. Well, I don’t really know what a blog is supposed to do, because mine is the first one that I have read. But it seemed to me that going from 17 views a day to 741 views a day was a big deal.

I feel like a band who had a good first record and now has all this pressure to create an amazing “Sophomore Album”. Talk about writer’s block.

Ok, ok, it’s not writer’s block. I have plenty to say. The problem is that I think a lot harder about what to share about my kids when I have 199 followers and lots of strangers wandering in and out of my virtual life. My oldest son is just three years old. For every single thing I post, I have to ask myself if this will be okay for him at 13 years old, or 23 years old. I want to tell my story about being a mom, without compromising my sons’ stories. Their stories belong to them.

Why, then, would I even blog about my children if this is a problem? I guess I have discovered the reason people blog at all. It’s because knowing that so many people are out there, ready to read whatever drivel pours out of my head when they get an email notification that something poured out of my head, is a serious motivational push to keep writing. Yes, I am writing for my kids to read in the future… but who would ensure that it gets written in this Okayest Mom life? You. You would. If I know you are out there, waiting, and telling me that I have something worthwhile to say and a good style in which to say it, then maybe my thoughts will actually get recorded.

In other words, thanks. Thanks for pushing me to ignore my laundry and my floors and giving me a reason to record some dang family history for my kids before I forget it.