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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Preschool? Please!


When most women find out they are expecting they have one date in mind; the due date. But not me! I had my sights set on September 1st. Why? Because that's the cutoff date for children in the State of Illinios. Kids must be 3 years of age on or before September 1st in order to go to school.

You see it was 2004 and I was expecting my 4th and 5th child simultaneously. Twins. And I planned to do everything in my maternal power to make sure they were born before September 1st.

I'll never forget the day I was in the sonographer's room watching her face as she watched the screen. She rolled the wand this way across my belly. She rolled the wand that way. Her face scrunched up and her eyes got squinty. I could tell immediately that something was up. She excused herself to go get the doctor who took his turn with the wand. He promptly turned to me and proclaimed, "Congratulations! You're having twins!"

Did he really just offer me congratulations? This wasn't sounding like good news to me! He of course, was thrilled as my fruitful womb continued to financially support his family.

I'm not proud to admit what happened next. I came up off of that exam table and pointed my finger at the good news doctor while a slur of random, completely inappropriate accusations flowed freely from my lips. I'm pretty sure I blamed the doctor for my condition saying "This is all your fault!" and demanding he suggest how we were going to pay for college tuition and 2 weddings. I think I even said something about the demands of nursing and dairy cows.

He took it all in stride, bless his heart. He assured me my condition was not of his making and he gave me a card for my next appointment and on the back side he scribbled the number to a psychiatrist.

Ok, that's not true but the nurse did ask if she should call someone to come talk to me. Seeing rubber rooms on my horizon if I didn't pull it together, I gathered every shred of dignity I had left, which was essentially none, and left the exam room.

But I never let go of that magical date. September 1.

All early childhood professionals agree that the most imperative time in children's growth and development happens in the earliest years of life. And while I agree with that statement I admit I had ulterior motives in sending my little twins off to preschool.

Sure there is a ton kids learn from the socialization of a preschool setting. Of course they learned important life skills like waiting their turn, sharing toys, listening to and following directions. Preschool is also a fantastic place for children to practice those often despised messy play activities like play dough, cutting with scissors and drawing with markers of which my children had minimal experience.

Before you judge me you must remember I had twins. Why would any mother in her right mind give two toddlers markers? Or play dough or scissors? Can you imagine the destruction twins could cause with such weapons, er, I mean tools? If they went unsupervised for a nano-second my entire house could have gone up in smoke.

Truth is I wasn't quite that manical but the mess the two of them made did get on my nerves. I woefully admit I preferred the two of them have such learning experiences in the confines of a classroom where someone else had to deal with the ensuing mess. My dining room table thanked me personally for that decision.

So in short, it turns out preschool was a win-win for the three of us. The twins, who were born eight days before the cutoff, went bounding off to preschool with oversized book bags waiting to experience all the wonderful art crafts preschool had to offer. I dropped them off with a hug and a smile and headed immediately back to bed. I was sort of sleep deprived for 3 solid years. Cut me some slack will ya?

Because our young children learn by doing, playing with new toys and new friends and yes, even new finger paints causes a wonderful neuronic connection to form in their brains. Therefore I am, and continue to be an advocate of quality preschool programming. Not all mothers need preschool like I did. I recognize some begrudgingly send their wee ones off worried about the care they'll receive outside of mama's arms of nurture, but let me assure you preschools can be wonderful places for children. Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so! That's why!



Stephanie is a Parent Educator for the Monmouth-Roseville School District and is accepting appointments to enroll children in the prekindergarten program at Lincoln School. Call (309)734-2222 to schedule an appointment.



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