When DS was three we hit a rough patch at nursery.
My smiley boy who loved nurserywas no more. When I dropped him off at the door we had the works; clinging, wailing, tears, snot, pleading- well as much as a non verbal 3 year old can plead. Mostly it was just ‘mummmeeee nooooo’ accompanied by pouting and crying but it definitely counted as pleading. But mainly it was sadness. Sometimes it started as we reached the road to the nursery, before we’d even got out of the car.
Once I’d extracted myself from his grasp, and handed him over to one of his ladies for cuddles and calming, I’d sit in the car for 5 minutes or so and wait until I could no longer hear him screaming. Five minutes after that I’d ring and get an update and he’d always be just fine. To top things off, when I went to pick him up at night he didn’t want to go home and would always hide from me. I would try and be cheerful and good humoured about this; sometimes I was more successful than others.
Gradually the tears got less and less, until one day he rang through the door with a cheery ‘Bye bye mummy’ and I had to chase after him for a cuddle and a kiss.
After that he was fine at drop off, but we still always had ‘hiding’ at pickup.
Now, over two years on, he’s started school. This is the big time.
He was surprisingly fine during the induction phase where he was whisked through the school’s front door every morning. We didn’t even have the hint of tears; every morning he watched out for the blue card that signified his class, grabbed his bag and headed into school without a backwards glance. He was supremely confident.
But since he’s been doing full days, and I’ve been dropping him off in the playground with his sister, he’s been wavering. The tears started about a week and a half before half term. He started sniffing as we walked up the driveway and said the words every parent dreads. ‘Mummy, I don’t want to go to school. I want to stay home with you.’
I gave him kisses and cuddles, and the teachers at the gate gave him a special job of standing beside them and ‘helping’. He cried as I walked away. His language is so much better than they were two years ago and his pleas of ‘mummy, come back’ were so clear. I felt worse than I had when he was younger but when I talked to his teacher she always said he’d had a good day, and he always seemed cheerful and positive about his day at pick up time.
This went on for every day until half term. He started saying he didn’t want to go to school when he got up in the morning and cried louder in the mornings. Then came half term and a week’s respite.
On Monday morning, after half term, he said that school was boring as we walked up the drive, and he did cry a bit as I walked away. It may have been my imagination but I didn’t think it was as bad as it had been.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, we had more tears and the teachers had to work hard to engage him while I escaped.
On Thursday, he seemed calmer and it helped when he met up with a little boy from his class on the way into the playground. He stood by the Head and talked to her while I left. For the first time in two weeks, he didn’t cry.
This morning it was mufti day for all 4 children. This is an event slightly below the threat of a nuclear holocaust in terms of stress for our household, so I can’t claim my calm demeanor was rubbing off on the kids. DS seemed happy enough as we walked up the drive, and went through into the playground quite happily. I left him standing at the gate, waving me good bye and when I went back later to help move the mufti day donations he had disappeared from the teacher’s side and was running around happily with his friends.
Today, after school, he told me he had no more tears for school.
And then he went and hid in the living room. Not very successfully but happily. And that’s what counts, isn’t it?