Can we please rewind? I want to undo the last 24…48…76 hours please (I have forgotten how to add).
I want to go back to a time – an age of innocence, before I walked out that preschool gate, carrying a baby, and leaving a screaming child. I want to go back and do it all again. Differently. Please please.
I can’t, can I?
They told me this is the right thing to do. Clean break. Don’t hang around. Don’t hesitate. Just go. I dithered, torn between a strong belief in what is right for my child, and a sense of courtesy.
Would you believe courtesy won out?
I put being polite over the wellbeing of my child.
It wasn’t until 3 o’clock the next morning that my head cleared, and I worked out that what happened was not right. I was spineless, and I want to go back and do it all again.
This is how it went…
My daughter loved every minute of preschool. She came home singing and dancing. I marvelled at her ease. How does she do it? We waited until the time was right, and evidently it was.
Then, to bond with the preschool community, I dragged two overtired children to the evening BBQ/disco. My daughter hovered at the periphery, for the first time, uncertain. She was only 3. Some of these kids were 5. They ran around, playing together. She sucked her little finger.
We didn’t talk about it, until the morning of her preschool day.
“I don’t want to go to preschool”, she said. I was surprised. When I dug deeper, she said she was worried about all the big kids running around. That’s OK. She’s also worried about chickens half a mile off. I understand.
We made the mistake of saying she could go and see what it was like, and if she didn’t like it, she could come home. The mistake was the latter part of that statement. She called our bluff, and we brought her home.
I was sad she was missing out on all the fun.
The preschool teachers were quick to clarify our wrong-doings. Clean break, separation, etc. If we’d stayed another hour, her response would have been the same. We just needed to leave her, and trust it would all be OK.
The following week, the sequence played out in the same way. I don’t want to go, let’s just go see, get there, I want to go home.
I stayed with her while she played with a friend. At some point, I needed to check if baby was awake, and explained to her I would be back in a moment. She was cool with that.
In my two minute absence, though, she freaked out, and ran around screaming, looking for me. I was there, with baby, reassuring her that I wouldn’t go without saying good bye, but by that time, two carers had us cornered. I had to make a clean break, they were saying. This is separation, they were saying. If I stay longer, the same thing will happen an hour later, they were saying.
They had me walking out the gate.
“Hang on,” I said. “I don’t want to go yet. I just want to wait until she is calm again.” Knowing my daughter, I knew that she just needed a moment, and would give me permission to go when she was ready. If not, I would just take her home, as before.
“You need to go, we will call you. She will be OK, and if she’s not, we will let you know.”
Scared of confrontation, doubting my confidence, too polite for my own good – I don’t know what exactly my motivation was, but there I was on one side of the gate and she, screaming hysterically, was on the other. I could hear the screams up the road, where I parked to call my husband.
“What the hell have I just done?”
I called the carers. “She’s OK,” they said. “Just sobbing quietly. Oh, now she is singing with the others. She’s fine.”
After the trauma had already happened, what could I do? I left.
Yesterday, I saw a lot of anger and sadness in her. Don’t worry, I am not imagining things. I am hyper vigilant about not being one of those overly neurotic mothers. But it was there. Anger. Sadness. And I don’t blame her. I would feel pretty pissed off too, if it was me, left on the other side of the gate.
I have studied psychology. I understand the terminology. Separation anxiety etc. But I don’t think it needs to be that way. Unlike many mothers, I didn’t have to go to work. I work from home, and my work is flexible. I would have stayed another hour, happily.
Whatever the status quo, I am upset I let myself be led down a path I never wanted to go. And I definitely didn’t want that for my child.
I can’t rewind. But I guess I can help heal that wound. And I can try and make amends. We can do it better, next time. And if we can’t, we’ll try preschool again when we are ready.
And I can learn from this. I can learn to get a spine, and practice what I preach, and put two feet firmly on the ground.
Whatever you are to me blog, I am glad you are there. This experience has haunted me all week, and now it is out. Blurgh. Sorry world, you can have it. I don’t want it caught in my chest. Thanks blog.
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