How did it go? Thank you to each and every one of you who asked that question over this past week – there have been more of you than I could possibly thank individually. Charly starting nursery school was a very big and very scary thing in our world, even though it is only 3 days a week for the morning, and the support and love from you all was amazing. And I am so glad that my sharing helped you feel less alone.
So, how did it go? Better and worse than expected.
We have been telling Charly that she will be going to school to play with the other children while mommy goes to meetings and she has been excited for it. I have also been preparing her for the fact that there will be other children crying and how to try comfort them and, a particular worry for me, that the toys at school belong to the teacher and not to her so she can’t be yelling “mine” about everything because it actually isn’t.
We arrived a couple of minutes late much to my distress; nerves and last minute changing of her outfit and having to mark the new things thanks to the bizarre weather. Charly was happy and excited to go to school and play with the other kids.
Walking into that room was intense; there were hysterically crying little children everywhere, the noise and the heartbreak was overwhelming. Charly went quiet (for the first time ever), but wasn’t particularly upset; she sat and played with some playdough and found a phone to play with in a corner while I sorted out the admin of leaving my baby, while trying not to scoop up hysterical babies. They were let out into the playground just before we left, so when I told her granny and I had to go to our meeting now, she kissed us goodbye with no fuss and kept on playing.
Heading to the secretary to settle some money things, I kept trying to spot Charly on the computer monitors behind her as she talked. As we headed to the car, I stopped to watch her play. She was happily climbing on what seemed to be an incredibly high jungle gym all alone, and the teachers and carers were all busy with the still crying babies. I literally nearly screamed as she front dropped off what looked like a 2 meter drop, but luckily had a platform right below her that wasn’t visible from my angle. The scream was caught in my throat and my heart was racing and the temptation to run right back there and take her home was huge. A teacher appeared out of nowhere and helped her down and stayed with her and up Miss C went again, but with eyes on her and arms to catch her, I managed to rush away to my car with my mom.
I know Charly is ahead of other kids her age developmentally; she looks older, speaks in sentences, understands reasoning, and all that stuff; but it never really hit home until I was in that classroom looking around at how many of the other children in that room were babies. And they all turn two in the next month or so, all the same age as her, but babies. Little and still so much more baby than toddler. I am so relieved that Charly wasn’t phased by the hysteria, but I was. I felt sick for the poor mommies that had to leave their little babies screaming for them. I was more upset about that than about leaving my happily playing little girl, who has clearly spoken to me and showed that she knew I was coming back after my “meeting”.
To assuage some of the guilt and anxiety of leaving her, we went and bought some goodies for her birthday party and got home around 10:30. Just after we got home I started getting seriously anxious and panicky; I knew it was approaching 11 which is when Charly comes looking for me wherever she is or I am and gives me a cuddle in anticipation of naptime between 11:30 and 12.
I just started telling Brett that on Whatsapp and my phone rang. The spike of panic I felt when I saw the school name on my screen was something I’ve never experienced before. After watching her jump off that jungle gym this morning, my first thought was she had broken a limb or was bleeding or maimed or worse – great thought processes mommy.
The very sweet teacher just said that, as promised, they were calling because she was crying and they couldn’t calm her. It had come out of nowhere after she had played a happily all morning and they thought it best I come get her before the tears overshadowed the fun she had had in the morning. Needless to say I was in my car before she even finished talking. I was shaking so badly I probably shouldn’t have been driving, my throat was closed and I had tunnel vision. I am so incredibly relieved that I only live a few minutes from the school and that I don’t work in an office far from her. My thoughts repeatedly returned to those crying babies of the morning and their mommies.
I virtually ran to her classroom and found her frantically yanking on her bag and saying “I go home now”. It felt like the babies who were crying that morning were the same ones wailing when I returned. As soon as I scooped C up she snuggled into that part of me that has seemingly moulded to her shape, and the tears stopped. She waved goodbye to everybody, saying thank you and even a “love you teeyooo (too)” to the one teacher and off we ran.
As we left we heard the massively loud construction noise and she started shaking and freaking out about the naughty uncle who was making all the noise. She hates big machine noises and even has a low tolerance for vacuum cleaners and leaf blowers, so that could definitely have triggered the tears at 11.
I had bought her a special new Minnie Mouse juice cup and a clubhouse lunchbox that morning, so giving her ice cold water in her new cup settled her in the car. We sat with her and chatted, giving her lunch out of her new lunchbox, but other than saying the scary uncle and his noise made her cry, she refused to say anything about school. She actually avoided talking about it or answering any questions about it all day which was unnerving.
She napped from 1:30 to 2:45 and woke up screaming that she didn’t want to go back because of the scary uncle and it took me about half an hour to calm her and reassure her that she wasn’t going anywhere.
At 3:30 I called the teacher to find out how the rest of the morning had gone and she said she had been just about to call me. She said Charly had played beautifully all morning, loved playing in the sandpit and chatted away non-stop to the teachers and the other children. I loved that she commented on how polite C is. She is, but it doesn’t always tie in with her actions – she is likely to say excuse me while trying to shove you out the way, or to say no thank you when she doesn’t want to do what you ask her to.
Overall it had been a great day and they were impressed with how well she managed. The trouble really started when they went back inside after playtime and all the other babies started crying again and were given their dummies. I hadn’t packed hers. Worst. Mommy. Ever. But, in my defense, she doesn’t usually leave the house with a dummy because it is a sleep thing, not an all day thing; and I thought they weren’t allowed to bring them either. Still. Worst mom ever when your baby starts pulling her bag apart looking for her dummy because everybody but her has one. My heart was shattered to hear that. The teacher asked that I bring Charly back on the Thursday, even though her usual days are Monday to Wednesday, to give her and I a bit more time to settle.
She had played fine the rest of the day at home and when we had our bathtime I finally got her to talk about the day. The main theme was upsettingly still the scary uncle, but she did say she liked the teachers and played with the children. She didn’t like that the children were crying so much and they didn’t stop even if she talked to them, she said the teacher had lots of toys and she liked climbing on the jungle gym and playing in the sandpit. But she kept coming back to how loud the uncle was and the children were.
She wouldn’t eat dinner and she wouldn’t go to sleep. We lay in the dark from around 7:30 until just after 9 she said she was so hungry her tummy was sore, so daddy brought her a toasted cheese sandwich which she devoured SLOWLY in bed. In the end she fell asleep after 10pm!
I was dreading day 2, but it went surprisingly smoothly. No tears at drop off, she went and sat down with the teacher who was reading a story, and kissed us goodbye distractedly. Still not tears when we collected at 12, she was playing happily with the other kids. The teacher did “concede” that she did indeed (as warned) have serious issues sharing and threw some top shelf tantrums; but otherwise she was fine.
Today was the scariest of all. My mom had been with me last week for drop offs; this morning it was just Charly and I. She was happy and chirpy getting strapped in and on the way to school. When she arrived she had some slow leaky sad tears, but it turned out it was because she wanted to play outside instead of being in the classroom, and she still kissed me goodbye and didn’t cry for me or cling or anything. There were tears when I arrived too which really freaked me out; but it turns out it was again because of her “mine” issues. The teacher said of anyone went near her bag on the hook or her water cup or the chair she was sitting on, it resulted in foot stomping tears and shouting (I have just finished a whole post written on this a little while ago – coming soon). She says it is normal behaviour especially when faced with so many children. The fact that it has been mentioned more than once in the 3 days she has been there makes me think it is a little less common in the little ones though.
Charly was exhausted when she got home today, uninterested in food and fell asleep near instantly on lying down. She was mostly very chipper and chatty and told us about her day and colouring a birdie and pasting it and she repeated “the wolf huffs and puffs and blows the house down” a few times; which she finds funny and which she had to have learnt at school because we actually don’t have three little pigs. She also told us how she played with water and got wet and played with the dollies. She seems happy and excited and like she had a good day in spite of the tears.
So that’s the story so far; ups and downs, but mostly ups. My little girl officially goes to school you guys!
How was your little one’s first week? How are you coping?
Sending all the love xx