Monday, February 27, 2012

Fading first day of school blues

Week 5 of school and the first day blues are fading. We’re not out of the woods yet, but the path is smoother and the undergrowth is thinner and hides fewer dangers.

Much to our relief The Complicated One is making friends quickly. Last week after morning assembly I watched him walk back to class holding hands with a little girl (who he later told us he is going to marry!). They were the only ones holding hands – it looked terribly sweet.

He even quietly admits to enjoying many parts of the school day.

He loves doing little jobs - delivering the lunch orders from the canteen, couriering the school banking envelopes from classroom to front office, being bag police.

He’s fully into his readers, and taking up the challenge of reading a new book each night. He loves us filling out the diary that records what he’s read and what he liked about it, and getting a sticker.

There are a few kids who like him are already reading. But everyone’s different. While some kids are struggling with the curriculum, he’s still struggling with some of the social aspects.

He reckons recess and lunch are too long. Which we guess is related to the friends situation, which while much improved is still a source of some agitation for him.

Waiting in the playground for the music that signals morning assembly, he still won’t leave my lap, even though we’re often surrounded by a group of kids asking him to play.

Deep down we know that of course he’ll soon be running off without a backwards look. But we also know that he’s always taken longer than most to settle into new social situations.

It’s a matter of being patient. We’re just so relieved he’s not still crying himself to sleep, and that most mornings we can trundle off to school with little or no complaint.

Doesn’t mean he’s enjoying it, or it’s easy – but he’s coping.

We were warned by friends with kids who recently went through Kindy of the terrible rages that can occur after school. Tired and stressed kids who’ve been holding it together all day suddenly let themselves explode in the safety of their home.

We’ve had a few of these episodes. Often it’s a brief bit of yelling and crying over a small thing that he’d normally take in his stride.

So most afternoons it’s like walking on eggshells – don’t upset the crazy Kindy pupil in the corner!

It's just a matter of adjusting my medication and taking it in our stride.

Friday, February 3, 2012

First day of school blues

On the morning of his first day at school, The Complicated One retired to bed dressed in his uniform and shoes, pulled the blankets over his head, and said he wasn't going.

Clearly, the transition wasn't going to be easy.

By the time we got to school he was even more upset. The tears were flowing, and the other parents were looking at us across the playground.

After edging him toward his classroom ever so slowly we ended up dragging him inside. Force was required to the extent that we feared bruising his arms.

His teacher took him and closed the door. Presumably to keep him there.

Talk about a dramatic first day at school, for both child and parents.

The same thing happened on day two - tears, sobbing and pleas to stay at home - but without the dragging (I employed a steady push instead).

"I want to stay at home with you and mummy."

"I want to go back to (insert name of child care centre/pre-school)."

"I want it to be Saturday every day."

You get the idea. And it's only day two.

That it's rained steadily both days, at drop off and pick-up, hasn't exactly contributed to the cheery atmosphere.

He was happy when we picked him at the end of day one. The happiness lasted about three hours, until he started thinking about going to school the next day. Then he cried himself to sleep.

We had hoped for the best. Last year we all got through the three transition-to-school mornings with no tears or obvious emotional scars for child or parents. He happily went off on his own for the hour and a half sessions.

But clearly he draws the line at a day.

Three years ago the transition to childcare (two days a week) was a drama that lasted months. So deep down we knew school wasn't going to be any easier. Sure, he's more mature and had a lot more practice at separating, but school's a much bigger and scarier place (if you're that way inclined).

The Complicated One is a homebody. He needs to really know a place, and the people in it, before he relaxes and shows his true colours. Until then, he sits quietly and shyly with very wide eyes, and watches. He'll rarely volunteer information, even when he knows the answer, and he's frequently overlooked. But once settled, he's outgoing and articulate, and often takes charge.

Whereas The Big Fella just barges into new situations. At three and a half, he was almost volunteering to take the place of The Complicated One at school.

As we left the school grounds, the lollipop lady asked how we'd gotten on today. "Poorly - again," I replied.

"Is he a quiet one? An observer?" she asked.

I nodded.

"They always end up a prefect or school captain."

I know she was trying to cheer me up. But we'd gladly swap future responsibility for current happiness.