This month marks a milestone for my family. My 3-year-old twin boys will be entering nursery at Beit Rabban Day School and this will be the first time they have ever separated from me. My husband and I decided that, not only will we send them to school every day, but we also would send them for a full day, which ends at 2pm. When I tell people our plans when asked if the boys will be attending school in the fall, I get two reactions. One is a wide-eyed, surprised look followed by: “Wow, that is a really long day for them. Are they ready for it?” The other reaction is a head nod and a wide smile followed by “Oh they will love school, are you ready for it?”
For the past three years, I have been the event planner for my boys. I filled their days with various activities, play dates and outings that work for my time schedule. Unless there was a specific class we were enrolled in, I usually take my time to organize and get everything ready for our day. However, in between all my organizing, my twins go through bouts of peace and harmonious playing to outright wrestling matches to dismantling their room just because it is the most hilarious thing ever. So, as much as I love being their event planner, I do know that the kids would greatly benefit from a reliable routine. Thus, we decided to send them to school every day for a full day for their sanity and mine.
So how do I begin to prepare my boys for a full day of school when they have never had a structured routine? Well, truthfully, the boys have had “classroom” experience in classes they attended throughout the year, at the JCC, Elliot’s Gym, Kidville, and Super Soccer Stars. They have certainly been exposed to story time, arts and crafts, music circle time, and free play within the class. They have met and stayed “friends” with different girls and boys they interacted with in their classes. A “real” school setting will hardly feel unfamiliar to them. Only problem is, I have always been in the classes with them. Many times I would step out of class and watch from the window just to see if they would notice I was missing. They didn’t. They only time they realized I was gone was when I would go back into the room. I feel confident that when they do go to school, separating from me won’t be a huge issue for them. They like to be active and busy and I know Beit Rabban will be a warm, nurturing environment for them to flourish.
The day we received an acceptance letter from Beit Rabban, we started prepping our boys for “real” school. We talked about what school is and the different things they would learn. We explained that Mommy would not be with them at school, but would be right there to pick them up and hear all about their day. We read books about school and made up stories about what their school day would be like. They chose Elmo and Big Bird backpacks and sometimes walk around the house filling them with toys and saying “Bye Mommy, I’m going to school now.” Beit Rabban is only 10 blocks from my apartment so we frequently pass by the building and wave to “our new school.”
I recently received a letter from their school stating that it has a nut-free policy so all food brought in must be nut-free. My kids love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pretty much eat them almost every day for lunch. I started thinking of alternatives to get them prepared to be around children with nut allergies. Fortunately, I found Sunbutter in the supermarket—it’s made of sunflower seeds and tastes quite similar to peanut butter. It has been a good replacement and my kids don’t even notice the difference.
Now, as far as whether I am ready for my kids to be separated from me for a full day- well, it is bittersweet. We are the three musketeers. Gone will be my days of easing into the morning, cuddling for as long as I like, and just hanging out with my little buddies. I am starting to tear up as I write this- my boys have grown up and I have had the absolute pleasure of watching them grow every day. But I also see how hungry they are to learn and read and be around kids their own age. I know they will be stars in school and will love their new “home.”
So, when I respond to the question of whether I’m ready for my boys to be in school, the answer is “yes” and “no.” But ready or not, chapter one is about to begin.
Rhonda Rose is a stay at home mom to twin 3- year-old boys, Sammy and Marcus. In her pre-children years, Rhonda worked as an account executive in various advertising agencies and in the non-profit sector. Rhonda is a participant in the Parent To Parent initiative of The Jewish Education Project, which trains and empowers Jewish day school parents to share their experiences and personal reflections on social media.