Dawn of a New Era: Pre-School

20140106-223756.jpgSunday evening, five to midnight, found me learning a new skill. I was attempting to write my son’s name in biro on tiny white spaces on the washing/brand labels in his clothing. I discovered:

* labels don’t stay put while you are writing on them
* trying to keep them in one place means your fingers are taking up 2/3 of the available space to write on
* most labels somehow magically prevent loops and up-strokes, allowing only a kind of katakana-capital-letter-hieroglyphic writing

I also put his name on a tired tupperware pot filled with three (3) mini rice cakes (apple flavour), one (1) dried apricot, a little pack of raisins and a broken Jacobs Water cracker. I learned another lesson when I examined the pot again in the morning: you don’t put dried fruit and crumbly crackers in the same pot as they amalgamate into a new and unappetising species overnight.

I filled in all the forms, and discovered – too late – that I should have photocopied his birth certificate. Which also meant finding his birth certificate. I decided this would just have to wait a few more days.

Then, I did the washing up.

Then I had run out of busy work and had to stop and realise: my son was going to start pre-school in the morning. Every morning. From now on until eternity.

I suddenly understood why I had been feeling so sad all day. Optimist that I am, up to that point I had only been looking at the advantages and benefits of having mornings free of increasingly articulate demands for snacks, Team Umizoomi and general undivided attention; free of trying to tactfully break up tiny-toddler-crushing hugs that are meant well but could cause serious injury, possibly death; free of constant denial for the need of a toilet trip, followed by yet another clean pair of trousers and another load of washing to put on; free of sudden rage, tears, remorse, saying sorry, then juice and hugs (and that is just me). In short, mornings when my confident, independent little girl can play and then (blissfully) nap, while I do freelance work, lesson prep and writing. It had all sounded so good up until then. But suddenly it hit me that these would also be mornings without sudden sneak attacks of affection, without puzzles and games with a little boy that gets these things now, without a window into his hilarious imagination, without a little voice at my elbow, offering to help me with the chores.

I smoothed his labelled clothes once more, added another few pairs of clean underpants to his George Pig backpack and went to bed. All night I had anxiety dreams in which I just could not leave the pre-school, or had said I would look after a friend’s child at the same school but lost him, and most importantly, in which I had forgotten to label an essential item of clothing.

At 6.45, the Boy woke up full of excitement, untroubled by visions of disaster. He was looking forward to school. Once we arrived he headed straight for the sand table and barely looked up when I said goodbye.

Happy feet, dancing in Happyland

Happy feet, dancing in Happyland

At home, time passed quickly. The Girl kicked off her “zhuzh” with a little cry of glee and ran from toy to toy, unable to decide which one to play with first now that no one was about to snatch them off her. In fact, she did an adorable little dance in the centre of the room, which I freely interpreted as her Happy Dance, to celebrate a brother-free morning. After a little play and a snack, I put her down for a (very) early nap and did a good hour of work. Before I knew it, it was time to collect the Boy again.

He was touchingly delighted to see us. He ran into my arms, then hugged and hugged his sister and gave her kisses. He had had a wonderful time but was pleased that we were back.

Tomorrow, we do the whole thing again. And the day after and the day after that.

The whole thing feels strange, like I have forgotten something – left my wallet at home, or my shoes in the car. The house is eerily quiet. The Numberjacks lie on the sofa, lifeless, just toys now. The TV is off.

So I sit at my laptop, doing work, sipping a hot cup of tea, and grieving. It’s only the morning, only a few hours that pass in a flash. And yet, I feel like I have lost my shadow.


15 responses

  1. Five mornings a week must be hard and a shock to your system! You may find The Girl is lost without him too. You will all soon adjust. Good luck!

    • The Boy is still excited on day two, but am bracing myself for a set back later when he realises this is it now and he will have to go every day…

  2. Especially loved the bit about the Girl dancing with joy. And you realize you now have some two years to get her Dutch up to scratch, without any Dinglish input from her brother ?

    • It’s quite exciting too, though. I am really curious to see who he makes friends with, for example. Toilet – argh! At the moment he needs a new pair of trousers after every toilet trip because he is always just that little bit too late. Hoping he is a little bit more on the ball for them today but not getting my hopes up.

  3. It is so strange when they go. Boo goes for 2 full days a week, and was back there for the first time today, after her being at home for over a month with us. It was odd. Little Man asked for her all day long. That said, I managed to get quite a bit of work done while he napped and it was nice to spend some time one-on-one with him, and Boo loved her day. Just a big change to get used to – I’m sure you will soon xx

  4. Oh, the first leap into the unknown and scary world of Not Being Able to Have Full Control Over Your Child’s Life! I have to say I only really felt this once my second and last child went to school and I no longer had him around for lunch. But then I didn’t have any freelance work and was bored silly so the free time was bliss for my brain. And you made me laugh re writing on labels – so been there! But just wait until they hit the playground at school – you really have no idea what is going on then. But it’ll all be fine, just fine. Don’t worry (that’s fresh coming from me!) Sx

  5. i remember that strange feeling – When my second son started preschool (and before my daughter was born) I felt totally naked from the moment i dropped him off. it felt so strange not having a little hand holding mine as i walked back to the car. On a practical note “Stamptastic” name stamps have literally saved me hours and hours for naming clothes and other items! Gosh that sounds like an advert for them – it’s not meant to be – I just remember the hassle of the biro well! xxx

    • What a good tip! Going to look that up. And that little hand in yours – that was one of the things i most looked forward to about being a parent. It is sad when the hand gets bigger and slips off to live a life of its own clutching a pen or a paintbrush…

  6. I’ve heard good things about Stamptastic too. The downside of using a pen is that it washes out after a couple of washes – but you don’t realise this until you’ve actually lost something! (Even worse when they get to school and all wear the same uniform).

  7. Pingback: Team Kingston does Stamptastic | Secrets of the Sandpit

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