We didn’t have much luck with preschool when my kids were younger. My older daughter’s preschool shut down halfway through the year because the teacher/owner was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and had to quit. Since the other teacher didn’t want to take over, preschool came to an abrupt end. For years my daughter thought the school closed because the heater wasn’t working. I didn’t see any need to tell her the truth.

We loved that preschool.

I did not like my youngest daughter’s preschool teacher. Despite this, I played nice. Never said a bad word, never rolled my eyes, never a look of disdain, except maybe that one time. Just chat and smile, chat and smile. My daughter seemed fine and loved, loved, loved her friends in preschool so I didn’t see the harm in her staying.

I probably didn’t like the teacher much because within the first week or two after the preschool year started, she told me she didn’t think my daughter would survive kindergarten — she wouldn’t be ready. Um, say what?

“She’ll be fine,” I assured her. There was no reason to believe otherwise. She had never shown any signs of not being able to grasp tasks or anything like that. Reluctance yes, inability no.

“No,” she responded, “I really don’t think she’s going to be able to handle it.” She sounded very doomsday-ish.

First off, this is the very, very beginning of preschool, so why would you be so negative from the get go? Second, isn’t it kinda sorta your job to help get her ready? I could be wrong about that, but you have 9-10 months to contribute to her growth if you think she’s a catastrophe waiting to happen. How about we table this discussion for a bit and see if there are actual developmental/learning issues that crop up after you’ve known her for more than a week.

It wasn’t a behavior problem. At all. She elaborated by explaining that my daughter wouldn’t do any of the work until she, the teacher, did it for her. She may have caught a glimpse of my thoughtful, but not-terribly-impressed-with-you-right-now, expression.

Me: “Then don’t do it for her.”
Her: “But then she won’t do it.”
Me: “She will do it if you don’t do it for her. She’s more than capable.”
Her: “You mean she’s playing me?” Quite surprised at the notion.
Me: “Oh, yes,” I nodded. “Yes, she is.”

Haven’t you been doing this teaching little kids thing for DECADES? Surely others have tried the no work angle?

As soon as the teacher stopped hovering over her and doing the work for her, my daughter happily did all that was expected of her.

Our youngest was born to let others do everything for her. In fact, even now, if she doesn’t want to do something, she is more than willing to let anyone else in the world do whatever it is for her. It has been a source of great contention between us through the years, with me saying some version over and over and over of “I’m not doing it for you.”

Younger Her: “But you tie shoes so much better and faster than I do.”
Me: “Well then, I guess that means you need practice to get as good as me.”
Younger Her: Eye roll, stomp, huff and puff, exaggerated sigh.
Me: Deep, long breath.

She seems to have finally gotten the message.

A few years ago, I saw the preschool teacher at a swim meet. I didn’t say hi, even though she was standing right next to me with that deer-in-headlight look that seems to be her permanent expression. However, I did mention to my daughter she was there if she wanted to say hi. “Ugh, no,” she said with a whiff of disgust. “I didn’t like her at all.”

Wait. Whatttt?!?

I had no idea. Truly surprised. She was always so very excited to go on preschool days. The kid had never said a bad word about the teacher at any time. My girl said teacher lady wasn’t mean or anything and thought she was perhaps a bit dramatic — but overall, no real reason, she just didn’t like her. Which is weird, because our baby girl loved everyone in those days.

Well, how about that? It wasn’t just me.

Our girl finished her last day of her senior year in high school today. The graduation ceremony will be in a couple of weeks. She not only survived kindergarten, but has been a straight A student every quarter, every grade level since. Not bad for a potential kindergarten dropout.