published Monday, September 17th, 2012

Grand Thoughts: Starting school a change for the entire family

My oldest granddaughter started kindergarten this year. Tilleigh, 5, attended a preschool program several days a week for the last two years. Moving up to kindergarten was a big step.

I'm glad to report she is loving it.

Her sister, Evie, 2, however, has not made the same easy adjustment to preschool. She is going two days a week, cutting in half the time she spends with my 83-year-old mother.

Evie's first few days at school were miserable. She cried from the moment she was dropped off in the morning until my daughter picked her up in the afternoon. (I will forever be thankful for patient teachers.)

"You wouldn't have been able to do it," my daughter told me over the phone after leaving Evie at school for the first time. "She was screaming louder than I've ever heard."

I felt sick. I could visualize her face turning blood red, tears from those heart-melting blue eyes streaming down her cherub cheeks. She must have felt totally abandoned.

Well, heck, why wouldn't she scream? She was handed over to someone she doesn't know in an unfamiliar setting. What is a 2-year-old supposed to think?

This is a child who has never been with someone who doesn't love her. She goes from the loving arms of her mother to my adoring arms to the "you make my life worth living" arms of my mother. She doesn't go 15 minutes without being kissed or told "I love you."

And now she's with someone she doesn't know?

I'd cry, too. In fact, I'd scream. All day.

Thinking back to my own introduction to kindergarten, I did cry. I remember my father taking me to my classroom and me holding onto his leg as he tried to leave. I remember seeing the concern on his face but couldn't understand why he was leaving me. I had to be pried off -- a dramatic scene that ruined my father's day and got my teacher's day off to a bad start.

Fortunately, my cousin was also at the same preschool. My teacher realized I would stop crying if I saw my cousin. To make it easier on everyone, my cousin was moved to my class. It worked.

It wasn't long, though, until I started making new friends and began enjoying school.

I am thrilled that Tilleigh likes her new school and her teacher. It's a very important milestone in a child's life.

Evie is now into her fourth week of preschool and is becoming less traumatized. In fact, my daughter arrived a little early to pick her up one day last week and saw Evie enjoying herself in a group activity. She was laughing.

Thank goodness.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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