“I don’t want to go to New School. I want to go to Old School!” Gleek sobbed while curled up in my lap. We are three weeks away from the beginning of school, and Gleek’s fears about her new academic program boiled over. She listed all the friends she will miss. She talked of how stressed she feels. “I don’t want to go to school!” she cried. All of the things she was leaving behind were concrete and easily visualized. All of the things ahead were vague, uncertain, and therefore fearful.
I held her tight and let her cry. I did my crying and fretting last Spring when we made the decision to switch her to a new school and into a gifted program. It still feels like the right decision, but Gleek’s fears have a solid basis in reality. The switch is going to be hard. The work will be much more demanding than what she has been doing. Adjustment is going to be difficult. It is possible that four months from now we’ll be shifting and doing something else. I held my crying girl and knew I had the power to solve her fears. I could switch her back to Old School at any time. I won’t do it until we’ve given this plan a solid try. We need the information that attempting this will give us.
What I expect to happen is that Gleek will pull out of this afternoon’s emotional low. She will be fine for the next few weeks. She will be scared and worried on the first day of school. Then things will be new and interesting. Gleek thrives on things that are new and interesting. There will be more tears and worries. I will hold her and listen just as I did today. When the litany of fears begins to repeat I will find a distraction for her, just as I did today.