Today was E.’s first day of nursery school.
We woke up nice and early, so he had time to play after breakfast before we needed to get ready to go. I managed to convince him to sit on our front step and took some pictures while he made faces at me. Then we walked, hand-in-hand, to his school. He was so excited it only took us sixteen minutes to walk, so we had a few minutes to just sit on a bench and watch the trucks and streetcars go by before it was time to go inside.
He had a good day. He played with the trucks. He washed his hands when it was time to do so. He sat and listened during circle time. He ate and enjoyed morning and afternoon snack and lunch (especially lunch- there were chicken nuggets!). He loved being outside in their playground, so much so that the only time he ended up being really upset was when they had to come in to get ready for lunch and he wanted to stay outside.
I think he felt rushed for most of the day. He’s used to doing things at his own pace, and they do have to be a bit more regimented there. He would get upset when the teacher would start telling them “five more minutes” because he knew exactly what that meant, and he didn’t want to stop what he was doing. But once he had made the transition and was playing in a different room, or eating snack, or whatever, he was happy and settled again.
He didn’t manage to nap, but he was happy to lie on his little bed and cuddle his bunny and relax while the others slept.
When I put him to bed tonight he asked if he was going to school again tomorrow and was quite upset when I told him he’d be going on Friday. “Tomorrow is a Mummy and E. day,” I said. “We can go to the park.”
“No go to park,” he told me. “Want to go back to school.”
Definitely a good first day. We’ll see how it goes once we start leaving him there- I stayed there for the whole day today, except for nap time (when I came home to eat my own lunch and have a good cry), and the circle in the afternoon when I went into a different room. He was fine, but very happy to see me afterwards, and he was definitely keeping an eye on me all day to make sure I wasn’t about to disappear. But he was comfortable in the space, and he wasn’t glued to my side, so I think he’ll be able to adjust.
How I’m going to cope is another question.
It surprised me- how hard today was. I wasn’t expecting that- I figured since I had no intention of leaving him there it wouldn’t be an issue. But then at morning snack I was sitting well away from his table, and he was sitting up so politely and quietly and the adult was missing the fact that he wanted more snack because he was so quiet and the other kids were being much more forceful, and he just looked so little and so big at the same time. I thought my heart would break. I had to go into the other room to have a cry, and then when I came home briefly during nap time I just sat in my empty house and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed until it was time to go back.
I know, I KNOW that this is the right thing for him, and for us. I need to get my dissertation finished. Q. needs to be able to work full-time at his job again. E. is ready to interact with other children and meet new people and have new experiences. Logically, rationally, I know this.
But at morning snack time today my mama bear came out, and once again I was stunned by her ferocity and the strength of her devotion and love.
Suddenly it didn’t seem like a good idea anymore, not for E., not for me. I spent the rest of the day watching and wondering. Would they realize E. needed a diaper change if he didn’t tell them? Would they remember to put on his hat before he went outside? Would they find his bunny before nap time?
It is a wonderful environment. His teachers are kind and caring and incredibly loving. He will be happy there.
But they won’t look after him the way I do. They can’t- they have other children, other responsibilities, a daily routine that needs to be followed.
It’s going to sound stupid, but it’s as if I realized today, finally realized, for the first time, that someone else will be caring for E.
And it caught me off guard how much that realization hurt.
I want both, you see.
I want to have time to work on my dissertation AND I want to be at home with E.
I can’t do both.
I have to get this dissertation finished.
So nursery school it is.
I just hope it gets easier.