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School: for some, a nightmare to even think about. For others, like yours truly, a prime opportunity to shove my extroversion down the throats of anyone within arm’s reach. That being said, from the time I found out what school even was, I couldn’t wait to go. The activities! The people! The socializing! It all sounded so fantastic to my three-year-old self. Unfortunately, though, my brother, only 18 months my senior, left me and went off to pre-school without me. I was so abandoned! I clung to my Grammy and Grampa, my babysitters, as my newfound playmates, and there’s video footage of me talking ceaselessly while my Grampa sits there and repeatedly says, “uh-huh..yep..” to prove it. It was sad for us all.
Why is this memory from over twenty years ago so fresh in my mind now? Well, my daughter, my dazzling little extrovert, has been left in the dust as her older brother has started pre-school. I feel your pain, little princess! Some days, she gets a little bummed, and from what she’s said, I can tell she’s itching to start school herself (you’ll regret this when you have to write that term paper your junior year of high school in my English class–lolz). To make matters a little easier on the poor kid, I’ve implemented some strategies to make her feel included.
You’ll more than likely start doing these for your younger children too because I’m clearly a genius.
- Feed her breakfast in the car. Yep, just like her school-aged brother, I let her scarf down a cold pop-tart on our commute to her babysitter’s house each morning. There’s something about the thrill of rushing to eat your sub-par breakfast before you arrive somewhere that just screams, school day! It thrills her, and she promptly requests her cold pop-tart each morning after she’s buckled into her car seat. (If anyone asks, yes, I’d like a car detailing gift card for Christmas).
- Let her pack a backpack. It doesn’t matter if it’s not a real backpack. My little one has adopted a Halloween Mickey Mouse trick-or-treat bag as her “backpack.” She puts lots of random shit in there: a toy truck, a doll, a pair of underwear, an acorn. It’s not what’s inside that counts, but the status of being a legit backpack-carrying big kid that really matters.
- Convince her that her babysitters are her school friends. I could tell that she was feeling a little blue when her brother told stories about his school friends, so I convinced her that her grandparents, who babysit her, are her school friends! (Hey, that’s what I had to do when I was a kid, too). So now she’ll tell me, “My friend Poppy fed me Brussels sprouts!” Or “My friend Poppy took me to the park.” His friends spoil her, so it’s even better than actual kid friends who mostly just cough on you.
- Give her homework. Her enthusiasm is at an all-time high for homework. She tried to take over her brother’s first at-home project, and I physically had to wrestle a glue stick out of her hand to prevent her from doing all of the work. Now, I give her random things to do and tell her it’s her homework: pick up your toys, it’s your homework! Color this picture; it’s your homework! Feed the dog; it’s your homework! It benefits me, okay?
- Play school. So the older brother now wants to be a teacher (and a police officer and a firefighter and also a fire hydrant [wait, what!?]), so we have to play school. He’ll hold up a book for his little sister and show her where the spine is and how to determine whether it’s a hard or soft cover book. He makes her practice her colors and practices counting and letters. It’s freaking adorable, and it’s also a nice break from all of the fist fighting — added bonus.
So that’s what I’m doing to help my little extrovert cope with her brother moving on to pre-school without her. Next year, she’ll be right there too, and to that, all I can say is this: To my middle chold’s teachers, I am so sorry in advance. At least she’s cute.