I am kicking myself! I should/could have realized this sooner.
I have now spoken to two of Ari's three teachers about our mornings. One of them is a mother. The other day, B, the teacher, told me she asked Ari if she liked school and Ari said yes. B suggested that it might all be about separation, that if we spent the whole day with Ari in school, she probably would not complain about going to school in the morning. This conversation happened on Wednesday.
Thursday morning was work sharing. This is where the parents have the opportunity to spend the first half hour with the child in the classroom. This happens every other Thursday. We usually get through three activities. I very much look forward to work sharing days!
Wednesday afternoon, I realized that work sharing would let us test B's hypothesis. Thursday morning, before Ari had time to go through her morning ritual of saying she did not want to go to school, I told her that we would be working with her in her classroom that morning. She was beaming! She was so excited! She did not complain about going to school once.
B was dead on. And so was Daddy. He had mentioned this as a possibility a few weeks back, but, somehow, it did not click for me. I think it was because he talked about us being fun, not about separation. It's all about the key words, I guess!
So what to do now? It will be a learning process, like everything else. Here is what I am thinking so far:
I told her she can tell me when she would like mommy time or hugs. She is doing that.
I am making a point of spending more time with her after school. Often, she wants some time to just sit and watch TV. Frankly, I am not a fan of sitting down to watch Dora, but I think I might just suck it up and try. It would give us time to hug and cuddle.
I am spending more time playing silly games and finding things to talk about.
When the morning ritual comes up, I can be empathetic about the fact that she might be missing us and wishing we were there. We can dialog about how we can spend time together before school, after school, and how I can try to get to school earlier so we can spend some time together at the playground or getting her artwork from her folder. Every Friday the teachers put her artwork in a mailbox at school for us. But Ari really enjoys giving us the artwork herself. If I can get to school 15 minutes earlier and it will, in turn, make my child happier and my mornings more pleasant, I'll do it! I might not be able to do it every day, but I can try.
Assuming that Ari's concern is separation, do you have any other thoughts or suggestions?