It’s no secret that 1 out of 3 of my children is rockin’ the neurosis here and there. She gets it from me, she said proudly.
It started at birth. The world just frightened her. As a toddler life was difficult for her. I’m not joking when I tell you that a mere clearing of the throat would send her under the table in a crying fit of fear. A sneeze was catastrophic and I’m not making this shit up. The words therapy and well… therapy were tossed around.
Preschool went surprisingly well for the first few weeks with Amy. I’d drop her off and she would wave and race off to build with her best friend of the day. And then came Meet the Fireman day and all hell broke loose. Amy flipped right the fuck out. I don’t know what she envisioned, and it wasn’t like she’d never seen a firetruck or fireman before. Her imagination must have gone wild – not unlike the time I refused to go to the beach because I thought the lifeguard was going to be green and have webbed fingers and toes. Anyway, after Meet the Fireman day Amy refused to attend pre-school. I had to sit with her in class for a week and then sit outside the classroom door for another few days before I “went to the bathroom” and only returned in time to pick her up. And don’t even get me started on how I could not be out of her sight the other 21 1/2 hours of the day.
So, with that in mind, imagine how AWESOME I felt when I picked Olivia up from pre-school the other day and Mrs. Oldlady pulled me aside and said, “We had a firedrill today and Renee freaked out.” That. RULEZ! She talked about it on the ride home. Imagine if you will the most dramatic three year old voice saying, “We had a fire grill today and there was fire. [there wasn’t] Coming out the grill!!! [there wasn’t] And a bell that I did not like!!! And then we went outside to be safe and the swings aren’t even built yet!!! Because we had a fire grill!!!!” And then imagine her repeating it at least 3 thousand more times before we completed the two minute drive home. And then imagine her answering the phone while I was in the bathroom and riveting the roof repairman with it while he responded with the appropriate, “Oh no!” and “That’s terrible!” and “Is your mommy there? Please?”
On and on it went and went despite my patient reiteration that fire grills are good things! They’re wasn’t a real fire, they were pretending so that they could practice being safe! And oh my goodness, yes! Fire grills can be a little scary and that fire bell isway too loud. She went to bed talking about it and she woke up talking about it and then she said, “Yeah. I’m done with preschool.” “No you’re not,” I said cheerfully, as I got her dressed. “Preschool is fun!!” “Nope,” she countered, toeing off her pink pretty princess running shoes that light up!!! as fast as I could put them on. “I all done. But thank you. I’ll stay home with you.” I ignored her, promised her there would be no fire grill today and that they’d put the bell away, promised her a sundae from McCrappyfood, then strapped her in the van despite her vocal protests. “No, thank you,” she said over and over the closer we got to school. “I’m okay. I don’t need school.”
Pleading turned to crying and crying turned to screaming, and the screaming turned to grabbing whatever she could to keep Mrs. Oldlady from dragging her from the van. “Say goodbye to mommy, Renee,” Mrs. Oldlady grunted as she bobbed and weaved to avoid Renee’s feet. It took two women to get her out of the van. “I will miiiissssssss yyyeeeeeeewwwwwwwwww!” she called as they carried her horizontal body into the building.
I worried those few hours she was in school. Was she crying? Should I have stayed? Were these anxiety issues nature or nurture? Was she miserable? Would she start sleeping in my room again? Were my 2 1/2 hours of carefree mommy time about to come to an abrupt end?!