Preschool - What's the Big Deal?

ponderings on preschool | life by bri

it seems every mama i meet asks if william is in preschool. my answer is always the same 'no we moved here in september so it was too late to enroll' but it always leaves me feeling lame and crappy. 

when did preschool become such a big deal? maybe i never paid too much attention or maybe it's because i was in daycare until i started kindergarten but it seems like it's gotten out of control. i can't figure out why preschool is so mainstream and important. i completely realize how socialization is important for a child's development. i know that leaning to follow directions from another grown-up is essential. working together with other kids toward a common goal is an experience little ones need. but, why does that have to come in the form of formal schooling at a price tag that rivals my monthly mortgage? 

maybe it's because i'm not ready to give up my baby. when we were living in california, i never had a babysitter. and on the rare occasion that we had family visiting and got an evening away, i was sick to my stomach the entire time. i've gotten better, for sure, since we've been in ohio. william and charlotte have spent whole nights away and i'm finally comfortable with it. but sending them to a strange place with a bunch of strangers to sit and learn all morning? that makes me so nauseous to even think about.

i may have talked about it here before, but william is not the most outgoing almost-four-year-old. he's comfortable in his own space and with his own people, but being in a new place without a parent is something he's not at all accustomed to and definitely wouldn't handle well. i know he'd get used to it and he would probably grow to love it but i know it would be so hard on him. i see so much of myself in william so i know how i would feel in those situations where i'm alone in a strange place. like my son, i'm getting better, but it's still terrifying. i don't much enjoy a lot of outward socializing. after about 30 minutes of talking and smiling i'm ready to get home, trade in my jeans for yoga pants and cuddle up on the couch. it leaves me totally drained. and i know william is the same way.

on top of the social anxiety and stress that i'm not crazy to put william (or myself) under, there's the structure of traditional schooling that puts me off a bit. when i learned that the place for preschool around here doesn't even have a playground or any outside time i was truly disappointed and a little worried. we spend most of our days playing outside and taking away that time makes me anxious.

i know preschool is only a few hours a day. or, in this case, a few hours 2 days a week. and put like that it sounds doable. but the act of dropping off my baby at his first day of school, prying his little arms off of my leg, watching him scream and cry for me as i walk away is not something i'm in a rush to do. 

i would LOVE to hear from some mamas who have skipped the traditional preschool route! or really any stories about preschool. seriously, please share!