Local Preschool: Initial Freakout

Jubilee had her first day of local preschool today. Perhaps I will write later about that (it went well!), but this one is dedicated to the panic I first felt a couple weeks ago when the imminence of this day hit me like a swift punch to the gut (or heart, more like).

Suffice it to say, I was freaking out.

Suddenly all the ins and outs of sending my baby girl into her (cross-cultural) world descended upon me along with a whole lot of anxiety.

When I took some time to examine where all this anxiety was coming from, my list looked something like this (along with the accompanying mom-guilt questions):

  • Jubilee doesn’t know (very much) Chinese.
    • It might be extremely overwhelming and downright scary for her to suddenly be in an environment where she suddenly cannot communicate (and without mom to translate for her).
      • Why haven’t we prioritized speaking Chinese in our home more? I have been relying on preschool being the time she really dives into learning, but now I’m wishing I’d at least equipped her with more of the basics of survival: I’m not even sure she knows how to ask for help or water or tell someone she has to go potty! TCK-Mom-Fail.
  • Jubilee can easily become on the more hostile side when she’s feeling overwhelmed or scared.
    • She’s making good progress with using her words (IN ENGLISH!) when conflicts arise with adults or friends, but…
      • I haven’t equipped her with the words she’ll need to navigate those issues in Chinese. So she will probably revert to the universal language of fists and tantrumsTCK-Mom-Fail.
  • Safety. Safety. Safety.
    • I know this one is probably a universal momma fear, but a different culture/language exacerbate it for me. A good by-product of all the wretched things that happen to children in the States is that policies are stated pretty explicitly. Things like: To the best of our abilities, we are going to keep your child from being abducted, from escaping the premises, or from being molested. I feel sure that every local preschool has those intentions, but boy, it’d be nice to hear it and to see it in writing along with a long list of policies and procedures that keep works accountable to those things.
    • And again with language. One thing we have practiced a lot is how to say “no” or “don’t want” in Chinese . . .
      • but would she remember that when she really needed it? could she ask for help if there was someone who was unsafe?

That’s the list of (mostly) cross-cultural fears for my little Third Culture Kid. But when I examine my deepest fears, I sense that those things are much more universal. Yes, cultural and language differences exacerbate them to various extents, but at their core, they’re the same fears that I imagine most parents feel:

  • Will she be seen and appreciated for who she is (not just being the foreign girl)? Will she be treated with kindness and patience and respect? Will she be safe? What will happen to this tiny person I’m responsible for while I’m not with her?

And SPEAKING of not being with her, there is the knowledge that this is her first step towards becoming her own person, with her own life that I am (to a small extent at this point) separate from.

[Cue weeping]

At this point in my processing, and after an “emergency” prayer session with Aubrey, I felt the Lord releasing the hold some of these fears had so quickly gained over my heart.

Jubilee is, after, first and foremost in the care of the God who sees, knows, and cherishes her far more perfectly than I can — and that same God is the One who is sovereign over all things (ALL THINGS) and promises He can work all things (ALL THINGS) for good. That has to be the starting place and what reminds me to seek His wisdom first, since He knows what’s truly best for her in fuller, truer ways that I can.

The primary reason we want to send Jubilee to local preschool at this age is so that she can really learn the language of the place we live in: so while I can do my best to shield Jubilee from unnecessary culture stress and help her navigate all that’s unavoidable, I have to trust that, at least in the long run (if not also right now!), this is helping her to live well and thrive here. We’d love her to be able to build relationships with local friends in their language — not to mention, all the things that stress me out about her not knowing the language now will be alleviated when she does.

Half of the other stuff was more about me than Jubilee (I haven’t taught her enough, done enough, prepared enough, blah blah blah) and that stuff just doesn’t matter right now. God has given me a strong, resilient, flexible, sassy little girl; He is going to shepherd and shape her into the woman He dreams for her to become; I am going to do my best to love and follow Him and pray that becomes utterly contagious.

It will be an adventure, that is for sure. Like all adventure, it is sure to be wrought with both hardship and joy. But one of the themes of my adult life is not to make decisions based on fear. So further up and further in we go!

first day of school collage
A preview of the first day.

One Reply to “Local Preschool: Initial Freakout”

  1. Thank you Laura for sharing your thoughts! I love reading and hearing your voice clearly through this blog! This helps a lot with knowing how I can pray for you, Aubrey, Jubi, and the cutie on the way. Love you greatly & will be praying that these first few weeks of momentary separation will strengthen your relationship with each other and with Dad.


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